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Shadowgrounds is a shoot 'em up for Microsoft Windows, developed by Frozenbyte. It was released on November 11, 2005 in stores in Finland and Germany, and in Spring 2006 in the rest of Europe and North America. As well as being available through retail stores, the game began being distributed on Valve Software's Steam on May 8, 2006. The game is also available on Gametap as of January 31, 2008. A sequel, Shadowgrounds Survivor, was released in 2007. The game was later ported by IGIOS and published to Linux by Linux Game Publishing, with the Linux version being released on September 16, 2009.
The game takes place on a space colony on Ganymede. Players take the role of Wesley Tyler, who begins as a mechanic tasked with the repair of various systems. After the arrival of the aliens, the player performs a variety of quests until meeting up with the captain, who tells the player to contact nearby planets and ships for help, then to escape. The player then rescues the captain of a downed rescue ship, and is then tasked with destroying the alien mothership. Upon reaching the center of the ship, the player is approached by aliens who inform the player of the dangers the energy source that the player has been utilizing throughout the game.
The game is a fast-paced top-down shooter reminiscent of the Alien Breed series. Like the earlier Finnish game Death Rally, Shadowgrounds presents an anachronistic concept with modern resources. The plot of a monster attack on a space colony exists only as a thin justification for the action, monsters are plentiful and weapons large.
Shadowgrounds uses light and darkness as vital components of gameplay and atmosphere, hence the name. The game is largely dark, and the hero carries a motion scanner and a flashlight with a regenerating but limited power supply (a common gaming trope). There are ten weapons, all with three possible upgrades. Medpacks, weapons and ammunition are found in stores and near dead soldiers.
Players explore indoor and outdoor facilities in order to complete a usually linear series of tasks (usually of the "FedEx" or "get to Point B" varieties, though other tasks include disarming force fields, enabling a radio transmitter, or fixing various broken machinery), while clearing the area of a chain of progressively more powerful creatures. Occasionally, other NPCs fight alongside the player, but, especially in the case of characters central to the plot, they are invulnerable and can be left to kill while the player recharges his flashlight or hunts for items.
In order to enable upgrades the weapons, players collect upgrade pieces from killing monsters. Players can also pick up weapons and ammunition and health packs and destroy a large amount of crates (another cliché of the genre). Finally, similar to Doom 3, there are PDAs and computer terminals scattered through the maps that serve to loosely advance the plot with some optional exposition.
There are a number of vehicles shown both in cutscenes and on the various maps, including an alien ship and an earth mover; however, none of these are player-drivable, and the game will switch to non-interactive cutscene if a task involves a vehicle.
Cooperative gameplay, which was added late in development as a bonus for fans, is available within the single-player story. Cooperatively, one player controls Tyler via the keyboard and mouse, and one to three more can play as unnamed characters, using gamepads attached to the same computer. There is no Internet or LAN support.
There are a few other gameplay differences between the single-player and coopertive modes. The respawns that are available in single player mode are still a facet of the game; however, each time any player of the team dies, all players are respawned at a safe location, and one respawn from the respawn pool is used. Similarly, weapons collected are made available to all players, and upgrade parts are shared (ammunition, however, is not distributed).
Alongside its "throwaway" story, Shadowgrounds was criticized for its unsuitable respawn point saving system. Saves are made at the start of each level, and from then on until the start of the next the player must survive on a limited number of lives and respawn points. The original game was one of short levels and no mid-game saves, but as later environments became larger, the respawn system was hastily added in the hope of avoiding tedious re-treading by players. "It's one of those mistakes that we made simply due to lack of experience", stated Joel Kinnunen, one of Shadowgrounds's writers, and PR rep for Frozenbyte, in a post on the game's official forums [. ]
Frozenbyte has released extensive documentation on how to make modifications on the Shadowgrounds engine, as well as how to make custom maps and scenarios. While the first version of the official Level Editor, released on 29 June 2006, was only for retail versions of the game, users who purchased the game via Steam received access to the editor on 13 July 2006. With that release, all of the filesystem for the Editor was moved onto the Steam platform.
There currently is only one officially recognized third-party modification in development, entitled Shadowgrounds: Baxter's Sacrifice. However, the mod is suspected dead.Template:Http://www.moddb.com/mods/shadowgrounds-baxters-sacrifice/images
- Shadowgrounds Official website
- Shadowgrounds Survivor Official website
- Frozenbyte's Official website
- IGIOS Ltd Official website (Linux porting)
- Linux Game Publishing Official website (Linux publishing)