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It's the license that's not just for fans. It's for everyone else instead

Multiplayer often gets in the way more than everything. Take The Darkness, for example. Darkness's multiplayer is alright, but even Starbreeze admit that it's just a tacked-on extra. Just because people 'expect' a multiplayer option more than anything.

Yet, considering that the only real flaw we can find with The Darkness so far its rumoured short run-through time, perhaps it would have been development time better spent adding some extra levels? Despite some games being able to rub their stomach and pat their head at the same time (Goldeneye, Halo 2, take a bow), more often one part of the game or the other suffers. That's why we say multiplayer often gets in the way.

But FASA Interactive have us in a 180 degree spin, because the reason that its multiplayer mode is such incredible fun is that there's no single-player option weighing it down. Every single gameplay mechanic is optimised for multiplayer, and although it might look a bit... well, bluuurgggh in these screenshots, once you've tackled Shadowrun pad-in-hand, it makes sense. Just as Bungie, who love it.

Fans of the 87-sided die game haven't been that impressed with FASA turning Shadowrun into an FPS, but near enough everyone else has, including the Halo guys, a group of people who certainly know their 'beans' when it comes to the FPS multiplayer.

A kinda magic
Shadowrun's gameplay reminds us of Valve's Counterstrike. You're grouped into teams of up to eight players (which can be fleshed out with bots, if you're a bit lonely). Before each round, you're given the chance to upgrade yourself. There are essentially two different types of upgrade to choose from - technology, which encompasses anything remotely technical, ranging from improved targeting aids for your weapons to a super-sweet glider than enables you to fly very short distances; then there are the magic spells. These are pretty creative and allow you to bend the rules of the battle as is your whim, with teleporting and health regeneration just some of the potential treats available to you before games.

You're not a cyberkid in a sweet shop though; there are two limiting factors which force you to choose your weaponry tactically. Firstly, how much you have to spend is dependant on your success in play; secondly, there's only a certain quota of magic you can use - the more technology you equip, the less magical essence is available to you, so it's important to strike the right balance.

The big 'thing' about Shadowrun is, of course, that it'll be the first game that allows you to play against PC gamers (with their aiming ability deliberately crippled to offset the reaction time benefits of using a mouse). Thankfully, it's not the only 'thing'. First impressions indicate that this will be a nifty little shooter in its own right.