How does Shadow Complex perform on current gen consoles and PC?
One of the greatest XBLA games of all time, Shadow Complex has now made its way on the PS4 and Xbox One, along with the PC version. For those who are unaware, Shadow Complex features classic side-scrolling action and was presented in 2.5D format although the game’s world was rendered in full 3D. The game was met with critical acclaim and is generally considered among the top 10 Xbox 360 games.
However, it’s been seven long years since the original released on the Xbox 360. How much has changed since the original launched? Let us find out.
To begin with the remastered version still runs on Unreal Engine 3 however it uses an updated version of the older build. Furthermore, you will notice the remastered version of the game has lost its classic dirty and grainy look. Instead it’s now replaced with vivid colors. We are not sure whether we are fans of this palette change and to be honest we prefer the original look. But again, this is subjective so some fans may like the new look. Moving on, some of the volumetric effects such as the fog as seen in the opening helicopter scene has been removed in the remastered version. Why exactly this was removed is unknown at this point but this is again one of those reasons why we prefer the original look.
The color palette change is also accompanied by lighting changes. Some of the areas which were dimly lit in the original game are now clearly lit thanks to the dynamic lighting employed by the remaster. The cutscenes have also undergone minor changes. In the Xbox 360 build one can clearly observe compression artefacts; the remastered version however looks much better and sharper. Character models have also undergone slight changes. The level of detail on the faces is slightly better in the remastered version and their armor looks much better in the latest build.
However, it seems that the depth of field effect has been removed in some places and some levels lack ambient occlusion compared to the original. Due to this there is a general level of flatness in some areas.
Talking about the console versions, there isn’t much to choose from on the PS4 and Xbox One. They employ the same quality of texture filtering, feature the same core assets and have identical performance and resolution parameters (1080p). The PC version on the other hand has been optimized rather well and the recommended requirements are pretty low. The developer recommend a Nvidia GT 540 1GB/AMD 5550 1GB GPU and Intel i5/AMD A4 CPU, so it goes without saying that most PCs won’t have any issues maxing this game out at 1080p and 60fps. Graphical settings are quite limited. You can change the texture quality, opt for a better AA solution and Enable DX11 (which you should). We tested the game on our trusted Nvidia GTX 970 and i5 4690k and had absolutely no issues in running the game at a full 1080p resolution and 60fps.
Compared to the console versions, the PC build features slightly better anti-aliasing and texture quality. Although you would have to really zoom in and run them side by side to observe the differences.
So where do we stand regarding Shadow Complex Remastered? Well, to be honest we have a rather mix feeling towards the work that has gone into the remaster. Yes, the resolution and frame rate has been improved along with updates to volumetric and alpha effects but if we were to be honest with you, if you have already played through the original game, there is no reason to pick this up again. There isn’t much here besides the better frame rate and better resolution. Furthermore, the game is already backwards compatible on the Xbox One, so existing owners who already have the Xbox 360 version have one more reason to not pick this up. However for everyone else, you owe yourself to play through this once and it goes without saying the remastered version is the way to go, provided you are not a fan of the original dirty look.
It will also be interesting to see what Chair Entertainment is doing with the Shadow Complex IP. They are certainly interested in developing a sequel in the form of Shadow Complex 2 but whether it will actually happen is something that remains to be seen. We hope that working on the new consoles have given Chair Entertainment a launch pad for a potential sequel which will hopefully run on Unreal Engine 4.