Impressions so far

All discussion about Shadowgrounds Survivor, spin-off/sequel to Shadowgrounds that was released in late 2007.
ZedPower
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Impressions so far

Postby ZedPower » Thu Nov 15, 2007 7:12 am

In one word, awesome.

But that's not very informative of me, is it?

I'm not sure where to start, so let's go into bullet point mode.

-Levels are smaller now, which is usually good. I kind of miss the epic sprawling levels of the original, a little, but mostly I do like the bite-size stages. (Well, they're not really that small, but in comparison to how they were before...)

-Three characters with different weapon sets? Genius. Whereas in SG1 you could afford to mostly ignore a couple of weapons depending on your play style, in Survivor every gun gets a time to shine. And every character plays very different from the others. To me, Luke is the one that feels the most like Wesley used to, because I used the pulse rifle and pistol a lot in SG1. I suspect other people might find the others more familiar depending on how they played the original.

-Grenades rock. I suspect that when I replay the original, the grenade launcher is going to feel pretty clunky.

-The character upgrades are a good idea, and the rate at which you get them feels right. I actually like how you have to buy the motion sensor; it's cheap if you want it, but if you feel confident enough to ditch it you can get the expensive stuff a little sooner. That's the kind of decision I like being allowed to take.

-I must admit I was surprised at how good the voice acting turned out. The three main characters are distinctive and usually hit all the right notes. I especially like Isabel's voice. Her tone just feels right. The actress succeeds at conveying her state of mind without ever going over the top, resulting in what is a much more believable performance than what we're used to in this kind of game.

-The soundtrack has taken a kind of semi-ambient-ish techno bend, which works with the atmosphere, but I can't help but like it a bit less than the cinematic, more melodic approach of SG1. It's less hummable, if that makes any sense. That's probably personal preference, though, and as I said it works well within the game.

-The prerendered cutscenes are gorgeous. The alien close-ups are especially impressive. I did a double take at the arachnoid in the intro. The alien army looks like something out of the Lord of the Ring movies.

-I wasn't too sure about the point of physics when I first heard about them, but seeing them in action really adds a valuable layer of detail to the world. Just tossing a grenade into a big pile of crates feels super satisfying. :) The only problem I have with this, however, is that a couple of times I shot supply crates that bounced into inaccessible spots and I couldn't retrieve their contents at all. It's kind of frustrating to have to let an upgrade part behind because it's perched on top of a small boulder. These crates can get hard to break when they're flipped on their side, too, like shots pass right through them.

-The secret items are nice rewards for exploration, and the unlockable bonuses I got so far sound like they're going to be a lot of fun!

-I'm having kind of an easy time with the game. That's probably explainable by the fact that I picked Normal difficulty despite having completed the original multiple times and having written a gigantic walkthrough for it... Heheh. I'm looking forward to the tougher difficulties when I'm done.

Well, I haven't finished the game yet, so I'll probably have some more stuff to say later. In any case, so far Survivor has been worth the wait.

ElfShotTheFood
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Postby ElfShotTheFood » Thu Nov 15, 2007 8:38 am

I wasn't too sure about the point of physics when I first heard about them, but seeing them in action really adds a valuable layer of detail to the world.


I like how when an alien is hidden behind some debris and starts coming towards you you'll see crates flying and bouncing out to the sides as it barges through them.

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fb_joel
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Postby fb_joel » Thu Nov 15, 2007 10:43 am

Good comments. :)

I think we'll be issuing a balancing/misc patch sometime soon, as I think some of that stuff could be tweaked a little.
// Joel, Frozenbyte team

Iceman346
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Postby Iceman346 » Thu Nov 15, 2007 1:03 pm

So far I'm quite happy with the game and I second the opinion that the split in three characters was a great idea. In Shadowgrounds I never used guns like the flamethrower or the railgun but now I'm learning to like them ;)

Some minor criticism though:
- The mountain textures in some of the stages (the first for example) are really low res and destroy the look a bit

- The physics are over the top, thats especially annoying when shooting one of the ammo boxes and it flies of in strange directions. Once an upgrade part from such a box landed on top of a tree, unreachable for me

- Make us use the flashlight more! I'm in the 12th level and so far most environments were lit enough so that the flashlight is not necessary. Ok, by now those invisible aliens are around so there is an incentive to use it but your engine uses an incredible shadow system which really is a highlight visually so darker levels would be nice. But perhaps there are still some coming.

- I'm not a big fan of those imposed "light barriers" which block your path in certain areas. They just feel completely out of place. If you wan't to hold the player in a certain area you should add incentives for doing so. The big door which you have to open in an earlier level is a good example. There the light barrier was not needed imo because the player wants to go through the door asap. (or the amount of monsters should persuade him that it's his best interest ;)).
There are just some parts in the game where i kinda feel a bit cheated by such arbitrary restrictions. They should have been more "natural". For example in the first boss fight, instead of using a light barrier to stop the player from going back you could have used a rockslide or something like that.

- I really like that we are able to pick up medkits now but an option to only pick them up and not use them would be nice. As it is now if I suffered minor damage and walk over a medkit it's just used to heal me for a minimal benefit. That behaviour is fine when already carrying five medkits, it would have been better if medkits are only used on pickup when the bag is full.

That's all I can think of right now ;) Apart from that I really like the game. The graphics are a big improvement from the predecessor, the gameplay is still fast and fun, the rpg system is a nice touch and the shorter levels are a boon.

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Jodwin
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Postby Jodwin » Thu Nov 15, 2007 1:49 pm

The game is great, but (since there's always a but...):
[SPOILERS]
It's even shorter than Max Payne 2, which was sinfully short and it lacks a good climatic battle in the end. :( Protecting the mainframe was ridiculously easy, even when I was smart enough to blow a cluster grenade right next to the second terminal (brought its health from full to almost zero...) :lol:
[/END SPOILERS]

But, like I said, otherwise it's a great game. The way the three characters interleave with their own episodes is particularly great, a lot better than first going through one third of the game with the marine, then the second third with the napalm and finally the rest of the game with the sniper.

Liver
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Postby Liver » Thu Nov 15, 2007 2:10 pm

At the mission "Backup Missing" you must go to a door named Storage 1, at the first try the light was green but I could not open the door (say "you are not allowed to enter the door" or something likt that) => but after a reload of the level I get through the door.
In the level "Canyon to Hell" an alien could not move, its stand in the air.
Image

Liver
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Postby Liver » Thu Nov 15, 2007 2:11 pm

Jodwin wrote:The game is great, but (since there's always a but...):
[SPOILERS]
It's even shorter than Max Payne 2, which was sinfully short and it lacks a good climatic battle in the end. :( Protecting the mainframe was ridiculously easy, even when I was smart enough to blow a cluster grenade right next to the second terminal (brought its health from full to almost zero...) :lol:
[/END SPOILERS]

But, like I said, otherwise it's a great game. The way the three characters interleave with their own episodes is particularly great, a lot better than first going through one third of the game with the marine, then the second third with the napalm and finally the rest of the game with the sniper.



How long is the game, shorter than the first one or the same/longer?

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Wrick
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Postby Wrick » Thu Nov 15, 2007 6:10 pm

I gave it an 8 on metacritic, and I really think it deserved it. The voiceacting and writing is a great improvement on the original, the soundtrack succeeds in being even better than the original, the gameplay is enhanced by the potential tactical uses of physics and grenades, and the graphical improvements are top notch. Survivor mode and secrets help towards replayability. It also seems to run far better on my low end system that the original did, which is odd. I guess it just shows the programmers made more efficient use of their resources.

It's a triumph, really. Well done to FB.

obbas
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Postby obbas » Thu Nov 15, 2007 7:16 pm

Just finished the game on the "Hard" difficulty.
Overall it was a positive experience.
I won't write as much as some of you have so here it comes in short:
My feelings for the game in the "story mode" are divided. That's it! :D
Nah, it was a very nice experience and I'm looking forward to finding evern more sectrets and unlocking stuff. :twisted:

randommoi
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Postby randommoi » Thu Nov 15, 2007 7:35 pm

Just finised chapter 2 (been at school) and am loving it. Do have some errors, before i can play i need to load the game for about 5 mins then between missions its ok. Also why is the first episode harder than the second? lol strange and one other thing I hate them spiders that stun you, its not a bad thing i just hate em!!! lol

P.s. thank god for explosvie barrels

obbas
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Postby obbas » Thu Nov 15, 2007 7:37 pm

Is it just me or do you run out of ammo in the survival mode, really, really fast?

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LordFu
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Postby LordFu » Thu Nov 15, 2007 8:44 pm

Wrick wrote:It's a triumph, really. Well done to FB.


QFT

randommoi wrote:and one other thing I hate them spiders that stun you, its not a bad thing i just hate em!!! lol

P.s. thank god for explosvie barrels


I love the poison effect! I was all like, what the hell? Then I remembered I was fighting a spider, lol. It's little touches like this that makes Survivor so great, IMO.

Iceman346
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Postby Iceman346 » Fri Nov 16, 2007 12:37 am

Just finished the game and overall I really like it. It's quite short, but hey, it's 20 bucks and not a full priced game.

[Spoiler]

But it's a pity that there is only one boss fight. The survival passages are fine, but bossfights just have a more epic "feel".

[end spoiler]

Also some more minor criticism:
- The last survival (at the mainframe) seems to have a set number of enemy spawns. I played the level with the sniper and using the plasma gun I "exausted" the spawns. During the last minute or so of the countdown no more enemies attacked.
- This is most likely just a bug: The sniper can see health bars for the invisible enemies even when they are, well, invisible and not in the cone of the flashlight.

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fb_joel
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Postby fb_joel » Fri Nov 16, 2007 3:25 pm

Survival mode ammo can be limited in some missions... If there's some missions that are worse than others, please let me know and we can fix it. (Spider Trouble should have almost perfect balance because we've played it so much.)

The last level is time-based and it should've been timed correctly but maybe it's not perfect yet. I'll check what we can do in the first patch (applies to other issues here too).
// Joel, Frozenbyte team

BRiT
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Postby BRiT » Sun Nov 18, 2007 11:34 am

Great game just like the original. I wish Co-op could be played online.

Are all the characters supposed to be as easy to upgrade/max out as others? The 'Marine' seemed to be the easiest to get leveled up, followed by 'Napalm' and last was the 'Sniper'.

Possible improvements:
- The Final Countdown, I played as the marine and had the last minute or so with no action. No enemies showed up on the radar, so they weren't stuck somewhere else.

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Postby kneo24 » Sun Nov 18, 2007 4:49 pm

BRiT wrote:Possible improvements:
- The Final Countdown, I played as the marine and had the last minute or so with no action. No enemies showed up on the radar, so they weren't stuck somewhere else.


I had that too, but I didn't mind so much. The brutes would always get stuck in the hallways they were coming out of and just destroy the data servers while stuck there. That made it kind of annoying. Also, I was almost out of ammo at that point.

MegaJim
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Postby MegaJim » Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:10 pm

:D Yep a fantastic game! Really glad I got it. Here's some constructive criticism:

The format of the gameplay is improved / different from shadowgrounds as the story is primarily delivered through cutscene audio acting on the level load screens. The portrait radio comms effect is still used sometimes ingame but not as frequently - there are no terminals to read anymore hidden around talking of secret projects, suspicious deliveries and so on. This means that when you are in a level you feel less of a need to explore and just want to blast your way through. In some ways I prefered the storytelling of the first game, as the levels although fun are really quite short - so short that it can actually break the immersion to move through 3 areas in 10 minutes and see 3 different load screens. This in itself is ok except I found the singleplayer campaign to be rather too easy, I think it has plenty of ammunition and not enough mobs - you can go through the whole game pretty much using your favourite weapon as the ammo is so plentiful.

* AI - Overall it is good, but I think there are still some issues where mobs get stuck behind walls even when they have a route to you, they will prefer to run at you through the wall (perhaps this is so they will run through piles of crates which does look really cool) but when its a wall it just looks silly...

* Balance - too easy, mobs should do more damage and take more hits (I'd prefer a lot more mobs too) - also I miss being able to do a nice roll when something charges at me - there is a "roll" key but its more of a headbutt-charge.

* Music - much of the same music from the original and some new pieces, this was a key part of what made the original so successful I think; the music was used to create part of the fiction (I'm sure everybody remembers the Ritzon King Disco) as well as convey highs and lows in the adventure, which really made it into a sort of conversation from the future, rather than action dub which it seems to be here.

* Storyline - well as already mentioned the format is definitely not big on storyline! However the first had a really spectacular story that pushed the player on through the campaign, in this I sometimes get confused as to what I'm supposed to be doing and the voice acting parts are somewhat vague or the message is wrapped around some grit. Not really a problem as most of the time its just moving through the level blowing everything away; hardly complicated, but I still feel there needs to be more of a focus to the carnage.

* Co-op - Yay! But please can we have netplay in SG3 ? pretty please with sugar on top :)

Wow reading this back seems like I'm not happy! Thats not true at all, I really like the survivor gameplay mode and the improvements with physics, multi-explosive grenades and special upgrades for the characters. As a critic I'd give it 8/10, as a fan its an easy 10/10 for an apparently bug-free release.

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sMull
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Postby sMull » Fri Nov 23, 2007 11:11 pm

First impressions - :shock: Seems like a great improvement over the original. I especially like the real physics this time, like moveable objects, as opposed to before. The game simply plays great, congrats to FB :D

Molo
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Postby Molo » Sat Nov 24, 2007 10:17 am

First of all, kudos to Frozenbyte. There just aren't enough games like this around these days (at least nothing of this quality).

ZedPower wrote:In one word, awesome.

But that's not very informative of me, is it?

I'm not sure where to start, so let's go into bullet point mode.

-Levels are smaller now, which is usually good. I kind of miss the epic sprawling levels of the original, a little, but mostly I do like the bite-size stages. (Well, they're not really that small, but in comparison to how they were before...)

-Three characters with different weapon sets? Genius. Whereas in SG1 you could afford to mostly ignore a couple of weapons depending on your play style, in Survivor every gun gets a time to shine. And every character plays very different from the others. To me, Luke is the one that feels the most like Wesley used to, because I used the pulse rifle and pistol a lot in SG1. I suspect other people might find the others more familiar depending on how they played the original.

-Grenades rock. I suspect that when I replay the original, the grenade launcher is going to feel pretty clunky.

-The character upgrades are a good idea, and the rate at which you get them feels right. I actually like how you have to buy the motion sensor; it's cheap if you want it, but if you feel confident enough to ditch it you can get the expensive stuff a little sooner. That's the kind of decision I like being allowed to take.

-I must admit I was surprised at how good the voice acting turned out. The three main characters are distinctive and usually hit all the right notes. I especially like Isabel's voice. Her tone just feels right. The actress succeeds at conveying her state of mind without ever going over the top, resulting in what is a much more believable performance than what we're used to in this kind of game.

-The soundtrack has taken a kind of semi-ambient-ish techno bend, which works with the atmosphere, but I can't help but like it a bit less than the cinematic, more melodic approach of SG1. It's less hummable, if that makes any sense. That's probably personal preference, though, and as I said it works well within the game.

-The prerendered cutscenes are gorgeous. The alien close-ups are especially impressive. I did a double take at the arachnoid in the intro. The alien army looks like something out of the Lord of the Ring movies.

-I wasn't too sure about the point of physics when I first heard about them, but seeing them in action really adds a valuable layer of detail to the world. Just tossing a grenade into a big pile of crates feels super satisfying. :) The only problem I have with this, however, is that a couple of times I shot supply crates that bounced into inaccessible spots and I couldn't retrieve their contents at all. It's kind of frustrating to have to let an upgrade part behind because it's perched on top of a small boulder. These crates can get hard to break when they're flipped on their side, too, like shots pass right through them.

-The secret items are nice rewards for exploration, and the unlockable bonuses I got so far sound like they're going to be a lot of fun!

-I'm having kind of an easy time with the game. That's probably explainable by the fact that I picked Normal difficulty despite having completed the original multiple times and having written a gigantic walkthrough for it... Heheh. I'm looking forward to the tougher difficulties when I'm done.

Well, I haven't finished the game yet, so I'll probably have some more stuff to say later. In any case, so far Survivor has been worth the wait.


I totally agree with everything above. I really liked the weapon upgrades more this time around.

All that said, I would like to provide some honest feedback for the creators of these games.

Some constructive criticism for Survivor:

- Balancing: Ammo is way plentiful and with the (wonderful) weapon upgrades, and enemies seem to be a bit easier to take down than the original game. A bit of tweaking here would be nice. Less ammo, more enemies, or stronger enemies perhaps?

- Level ending/transition: I've never really liked the fact that I cannot end a level on my own terms. In the original game and in Survivor, there have been battles I have fought were I was not able to collect upgrade parts or additional health/ammo because I had killed the last enemy or inadvertantly walked into an area that triggered the end of a level (preventing me from backtracking and fully exploring something I may have missed). Being able the trigger the level ending event myself would be a nice addition (opening a door, getting into a car, etc).

- Enemy spawn locations: The original game seemed to have more enemies spawning from within walls/floors/etc. Granted, Survivor has more outdoor areas than the original (though climbing up the cliffs is nice), but to me Shadowgrounds felt a bit more 'infested' in a way. All in all the enemy spawns are pretty good, but it would be great to see that they are 'infesting' the environment a little more rather than just running up to meet you. Popping through windows/vents/grates is great!

- Boss fights: Where did they go? The closed off mass enemy fights of Survivor are plenty of fun, but those endurance contests are something I would think of more as a "miniboss". Getting to the end of a level/section and having a fearsome boss impeding your progress is something I pretty much expect with this style of gameplay. Anything else seems somewhat anti-climactic. More boss fights would be great and the icing on the cake would be having to interact with the environment to defeat the boss, rather than just only shooting.


Suggestions for future games:

- Online Co-op: I realize I am not the first person to mention this, but its important enough that we're going to keep saying it. Successful implementation of online co-op in this style of game would really make it shine and help broaden your audience a bit. There are simply not enough 'good' online co-op games out there these days (the last ones I've played that are worth mentioning are Serious Sam, and SS: SE).

- More interaction with environments: Shadowgrounds games are run and gun shooters, period. Straying too far from that formula would only alienate your installed userbase and would not guarantee newcomers. With that said, it would still be nice to see a little more interaction with the environment. Some small, relatively simple, but purposeful puzzles would be an interesting addition to the game (beyond jumping between laser beams - though that is good). More vehicles perhaps? The mech was a blast :D

- Boss fights: As mentioned above, with this style of gameplay boss fights are pretty much expected. Bring 'em on!

Thats all I can think of at the moment.

Again, great job on these games and I look forward to your future projects.

Thank you

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Kadunta
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Postby Kadunta » Sun Dec 16, 2007 8:19 pm

Here's finally my thoughts on the game.

The good:
- The division of the weaponry between three separate characters was a good one.
- The gameplay is simple enough and it works
- The game admits it's got hardly any plot, unlike the original Shadowgrounds.
- Survival mode should give more challenge after the main campaign is finished.
- Physics engine. Watching the fast, scaly, clawed guys push down a stack of crates on their way was real fun to watch.
- Some monster placement. The bugs crawling from the pipes in the first Lastmann level was real fun. But like Molo said... there could've been more variety.

The bad:
- Only one new enemy type (the boss). Granted, adding flying units or units that jump from walls would probably be something the game engine was not built to handle.
- Too easy and short, at least for a Shadowgrounds veteran. The hardest difficulty level isn't that hard (unless collecting all 20 secrets opens up a new difficulty level; I got only 16). The game could've really used a "Serious" or "Lunatic" difficulty level, or maybe having the existing ones cranked up a good bit.
- The survival mode could've easily multiplied the game longevity, but due to the way the upgrades are opened as the character level progresses, this eliminates far too much of the potential different upgrade strategies in this could have had. I recall playing the old freeware Crimsonland, and trying out which of the perks were the best and when they were best selected.
- Too many trivial bugs for my taste before any patches were applied.
- Physics engine. The first time I played I got annoyed when my marine pushed a bench to the doorway so that I couldn't pass it. At least there was an alternative route for that case.

CheeseThief
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Postby CheeseThief » Tue Dec 25, 2007 7:05 pm

Finished the game this evening, must say was worth the money. As for my Impressions, the others have pretty much summed up most of my views.

The Physics engine is wonderful but could use some work. Wrenchers and Brutes barrelling through crates to get to you, briliant. Scavangers and Scytheworms, not so.

The new weapon style was both a blessing and a curse. It added difference between the characters and you could take your favorate weapons right to the end of the game and still have plentiful ammo for them. The character Loadout could have done with a little more variety, because the Marine having Rifle Grenades, normal Grenades and a Rocket Launcher is just a bit overkill in the explosives department. So is the Marine having the Brute Slaying Taser upgrade on the pistol, and the ability to one shot Brutes with the Pistol with the Brute Slayer ability.

I would much rather the Marine had the abilty to throw his grenades as his Pistol secondry, that would make him a much more gunho character as there are less switching of weapons for him to get a grenade, while the Sniper gets the tactical Taser upgrade. But thats just me.

Levelwise there could have been some more destinction between the characters, the first Sniper level was very fun how you could snipe the Wretchers from the top of the cliffs. Later levels the weakest and longest range character got thrust into the smallest and most clostriphobic levels in the game, not a good mix and generally levels that would have been better suited for the Heavy Weapons Guy who seemed to get most of the wide open levels. Once again I believe the sniper could have had her Grenades bundled as a secondry fire with her pistol, roll all her manipulation abilities all into one number.


The Lack of Bosses can't be overstated, I just unlocked my Nuclear Missile, I now want something worthwhile to use it on!

ZedPower
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Postby ZedPower » Wed Dec 26, 2007 5:48 pm

CheeseThief wrote:I would much rather the Marine had the abilty to throw his grenades as his Pistol secondry, that would make him a much more gunho character as there are less switching of weapons for him to get a grenade, while the Sniper gets the tactical Taser upgrade. But thats just me.


I'm not sure if I'm reading you correctly, but... It would seem you're not aware that you don't have to switch to the grenades to throw them. There's a "throw grenade" key you can use while holding any weapon.

The point of the rifle's secondary mode is in making the grenades sticky, allowing you to detonate them at will, and giving you maximum range instantly instead of having to charge up a throw.

CheeseThief
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Postby CheeseThief » Thu Dec 27, 2007 6:18 am

I did indeed not know that. I may have to go recheck half my keys.

Rifle Grenades give you a Controled Explosion that even if you miss you can detonate it as it sails by and waste everything. Cluster Grenades are generally more killtasic but can't be controlled once you throw them, and then there is the Missle Launcher which lets you do pretty much exactly the same thing but with a different ammo counter.

Schietluis
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Postby Schietluis » Thu Jan 03, 2008 1:49 am

oh, first post! exciting!


So I was checking metacritic because I wanted to know SG Survivor's metascore for I thought I forgot it since purchasing the package on steam with the holiday discount (on the side: the package is like the best deal ever... EVER). But on metacritic I was quite shocked to find out there aren't enough reviews to compose a score (four scores from a list of sites are needed to make one). To be more precisely: there is only one missing to give the game a metascore of around 80!! :shock:

so now I'm wondering, why isn't there a 4th review on this wonderful game of this wonderful developer?

greetz,
Olaf - Schietluis
...'cuz I just love running around and shooting at aliens while upgrading my guns with the parts I collect from the fallen ones.

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fb_joel
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Postby fb_joel » Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:11 pm

The reviews are coming. There was a bunch of other titles released around the same time and they were probably prioritized more, and then of course the Holiday vacations etc.

So far the reviews have been quite nice. There's a few that aren't on Metacritic but they're quite similar. But yeah I'm anxiously waiting for more reviews too. :)

FYI, a balancing patch is incoming but it may take a week or two more. We also haven't yet read all the comments in this and some other threads thoroughly, but will definitely do so soon and see if something can be fixed to SGS straightaway, and what other good ideas there may be (seems like there's a lot!).
// Joel, Frozenbyte team


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