ImaJAN Media Network
MeltedJoystick Home
   Games  Members
Search +
Searching... Close  
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
  
 
  Login Using Facebook
Twitter
 
     

Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (356)

view profile + 
 
Heroes of the Monkey Ta... 4/5
Lands of Lore III 2.5/5
Lands of Lore II: Guard... 1/5
Lands of Lore: Throne o... 2/5
Rage 2 4/5
EnHanced 3.5/5
Blossom Tales: The Slee... 3.5/5
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 2.5/5
Far Cry 5 4/5
Jotun 2/5
Armada 4/5
RiME 2.5/5
Song of the Deep 4.5/5
Shadowrun: Hong Kong 4/5
Destiny 2 4/5
Shadowrun: Dragonfall 4/5
Shadowrun Returns 3/5
Kirby Star Allies 3.5/5
Dark Quest 2 3.5/5
Never Alone 3/5
Octopath Traveler 3/5
Guacamelee! 2 4/5
The Incredible Adventur... 4/5
Fallout 4 3/5
Tomba! 5/5

Next 25
 

Shadowrun: Hong Kong   PC (Steam) 

Second Helping    4/5 stars

Two years after the cult classic cyberpunk tabletop RPG, “Shadowrun,” made its inglorious return in the form of “Shadowrun Returns,” Indie development house, Harebrained Schemes, released the third and final (for now) “Shadowrun” scenario based on that basic CRPG template. This scenario, over-simplistically entitled “Hong Kong,” is the work of a pared-down and slightly rearranged development team, with a new producer and a co-director, but most of the key people remaining in their posts. After playing this game’s predecessor, “Dragonfall,” I had in mind a minimum level of quality to expect from these Harebrained Schemed ‘Shadowrun’ titles, and “Hong Kong” successfully met that threshold… though did little to exceed it.

Presentation
Like “Shadowrun Returns” and “Dragonfall,” “Hong Kong” is built in a slightly upgraded version of the same Unity-based engine Harebrained Schemes has always used. However, this time around, the quality difference between the 3D character models and backdrops is slightly less jarring. Unfortunately, while characters look more detailed and slightly better-animated from the game’s birds-eye camera view, they really aren’t particularly appealing close-up (such as in the equipment menu), looking like something from a turn-of-the-millennium PC game like “Neverwinter Nights” than a modern effort by Indie artists. Still, the backdrops look nice, and feel quite expansive, with noticeable changes at recurring locations as the plot develops. Unlike previous ‘Shadowrun’ games by Harebrained Schemes, “Hong Kong” actually features a handful of cutscenes, which, while not truly animated, add a nice show of effort to an otherwise stagnant presentation.

“Hong Kong’s” soundtrack was handled by the same person who did the “Dragonfall” soundtrack, so they are remarkably similar (though, thankfully, with much less siren). Still, it’s a forgettable batch of ‘80s-inspired stuff that would only really manage to be memorable if it was annoying. Harebrained Schemes still hasn’t managed to scrape together the budget for voiceactors (despite “Hong Kong” raking in $1.2 million on Kickstarter, to go along with the profits from “Shadowrun Returns” and “Dragonfall”), so the game is 100% unvoice. In this particular instance, though, the lack of voiceacting (and “AAA” visuals) really hurts, as there is a LOT of dialog and purple prose that doesn’t quite take the place of VA and animation.

Technically, “Hong Kong” is about on par with the other recent ‘Shadowrun’ games by Harebrained Schemes. There’s a big UI option for playing on a TV from 6’ away, but, stupidly, no Xinput support. The other improvements added to the game engine for this third outing are largely under the hood and not really noticeable from a player perspective. “Hong Kong” is, at least, a solid game that never crashed or hung mid-battle, so that’s good.

Story
Guess where our story takes place this time! Come on, GUESS.

If you said, “Hong Kong,” congratulations, you don’t have early-onset dementia.

Yes, this time around, our custom-created, personality-free hero/heroine is called to the Hong Kong Free Trade Zone, along with their adopted orkish brother, Duncan Wu, by none other than the pair’s adoptive father, a former Hong Kong resident named Raymond Black, who fled his home city for the Seattle Barrens in the United Canadian and American States before taking up the hobby of adopting orphaned street kids.

Our hero just spent a stint in corporate prison for a crime they didn’t commit while brother Wu joined the commercial law enforcement in the UCAS, Lone Star. Yet the both came running when the most influential man in their lives mysteriously contacted them out of the blue and told them to meet him in Hong Kong.

Unsurprisingly, as anyone would expect in the bleak, dystopian cyberpunk future of the ‘Shadowrun’ universe, Raymond Black’s children are almost immediately attacked by a professional hit-squad upon setting foot in Hong Kong, necessitating that they join forces with what remains of Black’s hired team of Shadowrunners (read: corporate espionage freelancers and career criminals), who also suffered casualties in the attack.

Returning to the neighborhood of Heoi, our new crew, consisting of a female dwarf Decker (read: hacker) named Is0bel; a female ork rat shaman named Gobbet; former cop Duncan; and whatever mess our hero/heroine is, find themselves at the mercy of a local Triad boss named Kindly Cheng, who offers to help the two new arrivals if they’ll fill the missing spots on her Shadowrunning team. In exchange, Cheng offers to ‘burn their SINs’ (read: erase their Social Identity Numbers and make it look like they never existed to governments and corporations alike) and give them a steady supply of work, while simultaneously using her gang connections and influence to help Hero and Duncan track down their missing father.

Intertwined with the plot to find Raymond Black is the tale of a curse that has existed in an ancient part of Hong Kong known as the Walled City. This area, which is near the team’s base in Heoi, was always the worst kind of slum, but was recently redeveloped by a local corporation as part of a large scale charity. Unfortunately for the corp that spent the money on the project, the redevelopment process didn’t work, and the Walled City has become an even worse place to live than before, with the crushing poverty now supplemented by supernatural dread, with the residents building up a superstitious belief system around beings called Yama Kings. The palpable aura of corruption and evil within the Walled City has become so bad at this point, that the negative energy has been spilling out into nearby areas (like Heoi) causing recurring group nightmares in the inhabitants. Unsurprisingly, Raymond Black and the Walled City are more closely related than it appears on the surface.

Like “Dragonfall,” “Hong Kong” features a lot of side missions and main missions that can be done largely in whatever order the player wishes, with the player returning to base in Heoi between missions to upgrade their gear, talk with NPCs for new information, and pick up new Shadowruns. Interestingly, “Hong Kong’s” ending can be influenced fairly drastically by dialogs the player had or didn’t have all throughout the game, which is a nice way to encourage the player to talk to all the long-winded NPCs and learn their entire backstories (which gain ‘chapters’ in essence after each mission). There are also a pair of recruitable NPC companions that can supplement the base team mentioned above: A chain-smoking Russian Rigger (read: drove pilot) with an uber-drone named Koschei (after Koschei the Deathless from Slavic myth), and a ghoulified Street Samurai named Gaichu. Both of these characters are well-implemented into the main story, and have contribute comments and dialog throughout the story.

As a capstone, Harebrained Schemes upgraded everyone’s copy of “Hong Kong” to an Extended Edition, which features an epilogue module that can be played after the main story by importing an end-game save. This epilogue allows the player and their crew to get revenge on a villainous loose end left in the main plot. Altogether, the Extended Edition of “Hong Kong” lasts about 40 hours, which is just right for this type of RPG.

Gameplay
Based on the tabletop “Shadowrun” ruleset, “Hong Kong” closely resembles “Shadowrun Returns” and “Dragonfall” in most ways: Each of the system’s 6 ability scores (Body, Strength, Quickness, Intelligence, Willpower, and Charisma) governs a significant chunk of different skills, and following a single branch of skill and stat development costs increasingly large amounts of Kharma. Combat operates on an Action Point based system. Moving a certain distance, attacking, using a consumable item, or casting a spell each costs a specific amount of AP (typically 1, but upwards of 3 for high-level spells). Spells also operate on a cooldown, where the player must wait a turn or three before casting the same spell again, or be forced to pay for the spell with hit points. Success in combat operates on a percentage-based probability system, while success in non-combat activities simply involves having a stat (or a party member with a stat) that meets or exceeds a certain threshold.

There are two significant changes to these systems, aside from a new look for the UI. First is the addition of a Cyberware Affinity branch to the Body skill tree, which makes characters more effective at killing enemies using weapons that have been physically grafted into their bodies (as well as gaining more Essence to spend on cybernetic body parts). Second, the way Deckers do battle in the Matrix has been significantly changed, but I’m not sure it’s for the better. Instead of just fighting digital IC enemies, the player must navigate through movement based puzzles (Which SUCK with click-to-move!) past Scanner ICs, which only go hostile if the player enters their sight cone. Additionally, in order to access useful data and systems in the Matrix, the player must now participate in an annoying Simon-Says and pattern-recognition mini-game in order to remove a Blocker IC that sits in front of every such data cache. Some ‘rooms’ in the Matrix still contain hostile enemies, but, for the most part, Decking has been transformed into a poorly-implemented Stealth mechanic. While I initially found these changes annoying, I eventually grew to accept them – but still never grew to like them. Other than those two mechanical changes and handful of new Cyberware, items, and spells added to vendor inventories, “Hong Kong” plays identically to “Dragonfall,” with all of the same quality of life features.

Overall
Closing out the “Shadowrun Returns” trilogy, “Hong Kong” is a positive note to end on while Harebrained Schemes works on CRPGs in other FASA Interactive IPs (like “Battletech”). While “Dragonfall” and “Hong Kong” both successfully provide faithful adaptations of a cult classic tabletop RPG and beefy campaigns, none of these new ‘Shadowrun’ titles has really had a ‘wow’ factor that makes them must-play experiences. Still, I’d heartily recommend “Hong Kong” to anyone who likes RPGs, cyberpunk, or tactical games, provided they keep their hype in check.

Presentation: 3.5/5
Story: 4/5
Gameplay: 4.5/5
Overall (not an average): 4/5

 

 


Recent Comments
Comment On Review

 
 
Log In
 
For members wanting to use FB to login, click here
remember me
 
 

What Members Are Doing

Comments about...

New Game Reviews

Heroes of the Monkey Tavern game review by Nelson Schneider
Lands of Lore III game review by Nelson Schneider
F-Zero X game review by Megadrive
Pilotwings 64 game review by Megadrive
Lands of Lore II: Guardian... game review by Nelson Schneider
God of War game review by Chris Kavan
Doom (2016) game review by Chris Kavan
Armada game review by Chris Kavan

New Game Lists

Games I Own: Switch by dbarry_22
Backlog by Nelson Schneider
Top PlayStation 3 Games by Megadrive
My Backlog by Chris Kavan
Top Nintendo (NES) Games by Nick
Top Games I own by MeltedJoystick User
Top Game List by SIngli6
Backlog by Matt

 

 

 

Contact Us Public Relations MeltedJoystick Friends    

Advertise and Business

Contacts Us

Jobs

About us

SiteMap

 

Support Us

FAQ and Help

News and Press

Terms of Use

Privacy

Hitfix.com

Amazon.com

OVGuide.com

   
Are you sure you want
to delete this review?