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 411mania » Games » Reviews

Shadowrun: Dragonfall (PC) Review
Posted by Marc Morrison on 03.07.2014

 photo Title_zps8c395b9d.jpg

Game: Shadowrun Returns
Genre: Strategy RPG
Players: 1
Developer: Harebrained Schemes
Publisher: Harebrained Schemes

Last year I reviewed Shadowrun: Returns here which you can read if you want. In simple terms, Dragonfall returns plays almost exactly like the original game. Being an expansion, the game is almost 95% the same as the prior one. In fact, you could stack up both this, and Returns (Dead Manís Switch) campaigns side by side, you probably couldnít tell them apart. Thatís not exactly a bad thing, since I moderately enjoyed Shadowrun: Returns. However some problems crop up in this game that can slightly ruin the experience.

Like I said, almost everything about Dragonfall is the same as Returns. You create a character, pick his or her traits, specialization, and go from there. The game starts you off breaking into a mansion with a team of other Runners. The mission goes bad, one of them is killed, and it becomes your quest to find out what happened and who is responsible.

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The team mechanic is something new to this game. In Returns, you had people at the bar you were friends with, but very few of them went on missions with you. They were just NPCís to talk to and find info about the world. If you did want a team, you could just hire mercenaries to fit into a role and go from there.

In Dragonfall, your team is important and actually matters. You can just hire mercenaries and such to fill rles, but your team starts off fairly well. It includes a punk rock shaman (Dietrich), a heavily cybernetic medic (Glory), a female soldier orc with a chip on her shoulder (Eiger) and a few others you acquire later on. These roles mostly fill out the basic party gameplay and youíll roll with them for most of the game, or at least I did. You donít have to pay them to take on missions (unlike the mercís) so you can use the extra money to buy stuff for yourself to help you in the game.

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Along with taking them on missions, you can interact with them back at the base. Itís not earth-shattering dialog, but when you talk to them, it helps to make them seem more important to the overall plot of the game, and can help you understand them better. Think of it like how you would handle Mass Effect or Dragon Age followers.

The other change in this game is your basic base overall. In Returns, you had the bar as your only real open-world hub. But it literally consisted of only about 6 rooms (3 on one floor, 3 in the basement). This kind of gave the game a claustrophobic sense, since you werenít interacting much in the world. The map in Dragonfall is much more ďopenĒ in a sense. There is more stuff to do, people to talk to, things to see, but itís still just a fenced off area where you can do your business.

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I did find something kind of odd in this game, compared to Returns: the absence of Decking (hacking) as a whole. Decking is when you plug into a computer and enter a Tron-esque virtual world where you fight computer programs and hack doors and what not. The first game made a fairly big deal out of it, throwing you into doing it quite often. This game has almost none of it. Itís not until about the half-way point in the game where you have the chance to do it at all. The end game has some more decking opportunities, but it felt really weird overall.

 photo Decking_zps7d6ae83b.jpg

Thankfully, one area of improvement this game has over original Shadorun (which was something I didnít like) is a more robust save system. In the original game, you could only really save either in the bar, or right before you actually did a mission (if you were on the street). You couldnít save mid-mission, so you had to really commit if you were going to do one. The expansion (which they also rolled into the original game) lets you save almost anywhere you want. There are still a few instances where you canít save, usually before critical conversations with key characters, but you can still save around 90-95% anywhere you want in the game.

One area that is problematic though is the difficulty spikes in the game. Most of the game is honestly pretty easy, I would get hit a few times, but could usually rally and pull through the mission with only a few scrapes. The most enemies you tend to fight in any given mission is around 15 or so, maybe 20 for a harder mission. Late in the game you have to infiltrate a buildingís basement to do a task. This is one instance where the difficulty jumped, when around 30 guys showed up, half of them being robots who could take a beating. This was harder than anything else prior in the game. The last mission hits a huge difficulty spike also. Iíll admit that I actually had to use a trainer in order to get through one area, the enemies were just non-stop (especially the fireball throwing kind) and I died 4 times while trying to do it normally (the only times I died). You literally come across about 50 enemies, as well as the big mini-gun sporting boss. Good luck surviving that fight, if you make it that far.

The other problem that they didnít really fix is how the UI/inventory system is designed. Itís still kind of a mess. Itís easier to navigate now because I know what to do, but it is still unintuitive as all hell. This is related to another issue Ė you canít change your party memberís inventory, even if you have better weapons or gear for them. You can give them a few supply items, but they always have certain items that you wonít be able to swap out.

Honestly, the audio and visuals are just about the same, so no need going into detail. The one thing I noticed (like with the last one) is that the perspective can get in the way sometimes. It can be very hard to line up to a cover point due to the isometric view. You may get used to it, but it still occasionally gave me problems late in the game.

  • Gameplay is virtually untouched from the previous edition
  • New save system lets you explore and gives you flexibility in not screwing up
  • Having a crew makes the world feel more alive and interconnected.

  • Huge difficulty spikes in the game
  • You canít swap out your crew members equipment
  • The isometric camera gets in the way of finding good cover

    The 411

    Shadowrun: Dragonfall is a good enough expanded campaign for the Shadowrun game. It expands on a few specific things, but it is similar enough in most aspects to not even be noticed. If you liked the original Shadowrun return, this game is well worth a look. If you didnít like Returns, this campaign wonít likely change your mind any. Still, it sets out its own goals and completes them well enough.

    Graphics8.0Exactly the same as in Returns. There is some good lighting effects going on, but thatís it. The detail is still the key to the world. 
    Gameplay7.0Itís honestly 99% of the same gameplay as before. However the difficulty stuff can be rage-inducing since you wonít be able to finish the game. 
    Sound8.5By this point, the music was a little repetitive. I think they recycled most of it from the first game. The city sound effects are still good, though. 
    Lasting Appeal8.0An improvement from the past game, there is more choice in this campaign. Plus, Steam Workshop stuff can keep you busy for a while. 
    Fun Factor 8.0If not for the end part, I had the same amount of enjoyment from Returns. The last part though is deeply annoying and left a bad taste in my mouth. 
    Overall7.9   [ Good ]  legend


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