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It's David Blaine. It's Halo 2's multiplayer map Ivory Tower. And it's, er, dwarfs...

Multiplayer. That is coding team FASA's eggs and that is their sole, lonely, solitary basket. Because this, their E3-announced shooter Shadowrun, will not have a Campaign, Story or even single player mode, unless you count a few 'bot battles and a tutorial. Which we don't.

That being said, jettisoning a singleplayer game in favour of multiplayer only might not be the worst decision in the world when you consider the amount of balancing ahead of them: magic versus weaponry; Vista-powered PC versus Xbox 360; humans versus elf; troll versus dwarf; mouse versus pad; and framerate versus detail. As if to prove how difficult the title has been already, there are still only two versions of Capture The Flag on offer!


But while the mechanics of shooters are - for the most part - exactly the same as every other fast-paced multiplayer blast, it's the aforementioned blending and the balancing that the developers hope will the difference in Shadowrun.

So, the much-talked about teleport power can be used by any human to flick around a foe in mid-shotgun shell-exchange, but a dwarf could also use it to pass through a wall to appear behind a troll and cleave his armoured noggin with a huge katana. Combination and innovation are key, so a glider and a sniper rifle can be formidable but a chaingun and the ability to turn yourself into a smog-cloud can be better.

To prevent things becoming familiar, tactics and teamwork are brought into play by co-op skills and complimentary powers, with players able to resurrect downed pals. And since you don't spawn until the next frantic round and reappear
shorn of all your between-battle bought weaponry and magic, survival and kills are both currency you need to be flush in. While the Halo-style shooting system seems to level out some of the inequities of mouse versus pad control, we are still waiting to see if a shared battlefield and and the presence of only two round-based modes won't leave 360 gamers gunned down like noobs by PCer.

The verdict

Looking sparse both onscreen and on the options menu, Shadowrun really needs to impress with more than core combat. However the races, skills and magic system are a solid base and if the team element builds the combat beyond the merely frantic, it could still deliver.

Xbox 360