Shadowgrounds Review

In Shadowgrounds you play a mechanic stationed at a base on Ganymede who soon finds himself trapped in the base when nasty aliens decide to take over. A deserted and isolated space station with power issues and overrun with vicious aliens bent on slaughtering a lone but well-armed hero? Yes, you certainly have heard this story before and many times at that, so if youíre one of those gamers that need to have a deep and engaging storyline to go along with your games you wonít find it here. What you will find is a game thatís a throwback to an earlier era when action gaming meant a top-down view of the action and plenty of attackers to fight off.

Alien bloodbath on Ganymede.
Shadowgrounds takes advantage of its setting to try and build tension and a scary atmosphere into the game. As you move through different areas of the base youíll find that most of it suffers from power issues and that your best source of light is your own flashlight. To further add to the creepy feel of the game, the light sources all cast long shadows and in the case of your flashlight these shadows move as you do. The effect of this is to make you feel that each moving shadow is a potential alien beast waiting to leap out at you. When the alien monsters do come they leap out at you in packs, which leads to frantic bursts of action as you try to fend off creatures with the singular purpose of tearing you apart. While it certainly gets credit for trying to be creepy, Shadowgrounds doesnít entirely succeed primarily due to its top-down view of the action. Dark rooms with moving shadows and aliens that pop out of the woodwork can make for some tense first-person action, but it loses something when you view the action from above. You feel more like you are an observer than a part of the action and this change in viewpoint drains a lot of the tension out of the situation. The game probably would have been better served by a steadier stream of action than by its attempt to make you jump every time you see a scary shadow.

When the action hits it hits hard and youíll often find yourself swarmed by an alien menagerie that runs the gamut from space spiders to space demons. Your enemies will come at you with a variety of attacks and part of the challenge is to make sure that you use the right weapon for the job. Luckily for you youíll have a good variety of weapons at your disposal from pistols to rocket launchers and flamethrowers. Some aliens will drop weapons upgrades when killed and you can use these to add additional capabilities to your weapons. The upgrades are pretty much standard fare of your increased firepower or multiple shot variety and it would have been nice had a bit more imagination been put into the weapons in such a weapons-centric game.

The gameplay has you completing objectives along your path from one alien bloodbath to the next, but these are your standard run-of-the-mill missions that have you flipping switches and the like. Shadowgrounds is really carried by its action sequences, and as a one-trick-pony it wonít be able to hold your interest for long gameplay sessions. The game is best enjoyed in the same manner as it delivers its action Ė in short doses. As a budget title itís not bad as a mindless alien-blasting diversion or a walk down memory lane for older gamers who grew up in the top-down view era. If youíre looking for deep immersive gameplay you wonít find it here, but it fits the bill when youíre in the mood for some quick and easy action.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 70%.  A back to the future diversion for those looking for some old school alien-blasting action.


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