REVIEW – SHADOWRUN: HONG KONG

HongKongDR

Harebrained Schemes | PC | Available Now

The darkness is your ally. The ¥ (nuyen) is the point. Are you ready to run with the shadows, chummer?

SHADOWRUN: HK is the third iteration of the SHADOWRUN RETURNS Series. While SHADOWRUN RETURNS tried to play off the popular SNES game with the return of series popular Jake Armitage, their expansion DRAGONFALL seemed to play off its own tune. Give you a different taste, different city. But each of the three games are very different in how they feel overall.

(For the sake of simplicity, RETURNS is now SR, DRAGONFALL is now DF and HONG KONG is HK)

SR was a very interesting introduction – good story, a hell of a lot of nostalgia (I never get tired of listening to Double Cross – gets my SNES blood boiling) mixed in with some easy-to-figure-out combat mechanics.

This is the Double Cross song, from Shadowrun Returns and the SNES Shadowrun fame – such a blood-pumping song!

DF, on the other hand, kind of felt like a fan-made game. The characters were less interesting to me, and it was more of the same, really.

HK, which had quite a budget behind it, brought out some new aspects which was really interesting. Fonts were cleaned up, graphics were cleaned, the orange was a little overwhelming… but overall it was a very enjoyable experience.

So, let’s set the stage. You’re a punk off the street who grew up with a troll friend, Duncan Wu. You were taken in by a man named Raymond Black at a young age, who raised you like a father. For reasons unknown, you take off and years later, Raymond contacts you asking you to meet him in Hong Kong, along with Duncan. You arrive just outside the meeting point, meet up with Duncan and his Lone Star partner, Carter, and the stage is set.

HongKongP1

The gameplay in HK is pretty close, if not downright identical, to SR. The interface is cleaned up a little, and the whole presentation of the game just feels like a nicer, polished SR.

Combat follows the same style of its previous iterations: turn based tactical combat – cover, shoot, rig, deck, etc. If you played SR, you’ll recognize a lot of what you’re seeing here.

What took a massive change, and I think for the better, is the decking aspect of the game. While it does share some similarities to the original style, it’s interesting how much it changed overall. You now float when you walk, and there are tracers floating around. You can maneuver through these tracers and actually sneak through cyberspace without setting off an alarm. Once the alarm level strikes, offensive programs spawn to attack you. Also, most things are blocked off by giant gates. You can choose to FORCE them open, or you can play a game of wits.

HongKongP2This is the new Blocker IP Interface.

The game is played by pushing start, followed by seven rounds of Simon Says. Numbers pop up (1312 for example) and you repeat the sequence. Each dot corresponds to a segment of the code you’re trying to unlock.

Once you crack all 7, it moves you to the right-hand side of the hack where a bunch of different passwords appear, along with the password at the top periodically showing you hints as to what the password is. You have to match it to unlock the door.

Oh, and did I mention this whole thing has a time limit? Yeah. You get more time the faster you work, and certain decks can help add more time to your overall job. If you succeed, you get in scot free. You fail, and they add +20 to your Trace. If you decide to force it, it’s an automatic +50. Not a bad choice, overall, especially if you can work your magic in cyberspace.

The story in HK is interesting and plays out very well overall. Each of your five crew members – Duncan, Is0bel, Gobbet, Racter and Gaichu, are very interesting and very different overall. I didn’t know this in advance, and learned this much later in the game, but Gaichu is unlocked during the SERIAL KILLER mission. I didn’t know this, and proceeded to go do a bunch of other missions, and only had him for the final mission… which kinda sucked – he’s super interesting and… let’s face it, he’s a dreking samurai ghoul. Who the hell wouldn’t want him? So, if you want him, do that mission early on!

All of the characters having interesting personalities (Gobbet is fucking hilarious) and massive depth to their characters with plot twists and everything. You can spend hours getting lost in just talking to your friends.

Also, as a Charismatic Elf, I was able to nearly talk my way through like, 70% of the game. Having the option to bullshit over bullets was SO nice – felt very awesome to have that option, and some of the reactions were just so good.

I can’t think of a whole lot to nitpick about HK – the gameplay was solid, the length was good, the story and characters are interesting… if I had to complain about anything, it’d be that aside from the clean-up, new campaign and enhanced cyberspace, HK is essentially SR all over again. A little more variety in the types of armor and weapons we could get would be nice, especially since we were in a new part of the world – Asian style Predators n stuff would have been fun.

Still, only minor nitpicks for an awesome game. SHADOWRUN: HONG KONG is definitely worth your time, chummers, and that’s no bulldrek.

PROS:

Interesting Story

Engaging Characters

Upgraded Cyberspace

CONS:

Just a little too much SR recycling – more variety

VERDICT

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