Shadowgrounds Survivor Review (PC)

Following on from the success of their first game, underground developer Forzenbyte has returned with a spin-off. Titled Shadowgrounds: Survivor, this game isn’t a direct sequel, but takes place more or less parallel to the original game. This time the player gets to control three new characters and experience their story and how they deal with the attack on Ganymede.

A subtle mix of Starship Troopers and Aliens, the story of Shadowgrounds takes place on one of humanities earliest colonies located on one of the many moons of Jupiter. In the original game, the story starts right before the sudden attack, and develops to reveal who the enemy is, and where they came from.

Clean up on aisle 3…
The enhanced graphics have allowed for some new levels.

Where the first game relied on suspense and mystery to fuel the story, this instalment kind of assumes you already know it. There’s not much back story to the new playable characters, whose nicknames of “Marine”, “Napalm” and “Sniper” are as deep as they are obvious. However, this is compensated by the fact that a lot of previous game’s mood and atmosphere has also been included, making the experience quite intense at times. Fans of the first game would still enjoy this title, as many of the same features and themes reappear for this instalment. Survivor also carries on the ‘top-down’ third-person-shooter-ethic, and so many of the controls are the same.

The graphics have been enhanced, and several new locations have been included as a consequence. As a parallel story, you will battle through levels both familiar and unfamiliar as you fight for survival. A new ‘Survival’ mode has also been added, where you simply see how long you can last against wave after wave of enemies.

Combat is pretty much the same as always: a test of how effectively you can run backwards whilst shooting. The nature of most of the enemies and their AI behaviour means that they will close in on you quickly, and from several directions. Waving the mouse pointer around wildly will quickly prove futile, so the only option you have is to run backwards, keeping them in front of you so you can kill them. It’s simple enough to do, once you get used to it, but it seems a bit silly considering how far FPS’s have progressed over the years.

Anyone else thinking Tyranids?
Someone loves the smell of gasoline in the morning…

Never-the-less, Survivor is meant to be mix of modern technology and old-school gaming, especially with this title, as the story is pretty much coincidental to the game play. Like the old arcade games where you just did level after level until you won, Survivor echoes that lost age by ensuring that you simply shoot your way to the end. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially considering Shadowgrounds is an ‘underground’ development.

Unfortunately, this game suffers from a slight case of later-stage ‘laziness’. As your character progresses and you get access to the higher upgrades, killing the aliens becomes almost too easy. Coupled with a slightly too easy default difficulty setting, and the game could be over before you realise. This is especially true when you reach one of the two levels where you can control a mech – another new addition to this game. It’s quite easy to simply power through the two levels, stopping to kill some aliens if they get too numerous in number.

The three characters all hook up eventually.
Probably your most common enemy, I have no idea what they’re called mind…

The game is also notorious for crashing on random occasions. Frozenbyte have been working on fixing the issue ever since the release, but the game is still prone to the odd meltdown. This is linked to another odd flaw: the absence of a ‘save’ button. Should the game crash or you need to quit for whatever reason, you’ll have to start from the beginning. It’s not really that consequential since the levels are thankfully rather short, but it’s still a glaring omission at times, especially when you really would like to be able to save.

All in all, Shadowgrounds: Survivor is a game for fans, casual gamers, and for gamers who miss the old ‘simple’ style of the arcade era. Newcomers may be a little put off with the ‘enter-in-the-middle-of-a-story’ feeling, but if you just ignore the story completely, then what you are left with is a perfectly enjoyable third-person shooter. The added survival mode, along with the other standard co-op and features means that this is a game that can be replayed several times, especially with friends.

Top Game Moment: They say the way to a man’s heart is through his mech…



By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jul 01, 2008
The first one was a cross between Fallout and Doom3, and a surprisingly very good game. A one-off really, and only ten bucks I'd stick to it.
By liamb589 (SI Newbie) on Oct 14, 2008
this looks like a good game