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Shadowrun: Keyboard versus controller in the final battle

Jared Rea

With consoles on one side and PC's on the other, the room was literally divided between the two factions. The only unification between the them being that of Microsoft and FASA Studios' upcoming shooter, Shadowrun. Best known for its cross-platform gameplay, all eyes are on Shadowrun to bring some real gravitas to the never-ending debate between fragging with a controller or the staple keyboard and mouse. We received our Shadowrun training on the Xbox 360 and while it was educational, we wanted to play "the right way" over on the Windows Vista build of the game.

A few rounds later and the collective butt of our team was sore from the repeated beatings it was taking. Next to us on a PC was Mitch Gitelman of FASA Studios. With every frag a taunt and every victory a celebration, you can only imagine our surprise when we realized that he was doing it all with the Xbox 360 controller.

Sacrilege? Maybe. Boundaries? Shattered. And if Microsoft gets what they want out of the Games for Windows brand, get used to it. Read on to discover how Shadowrun is making the controller a serious contender.

Gallery: Shadowrun | 3 Photos

And in some instances, it even works better. This isn't a universal rule, however, as Shadowrun was developed with this sort of convergence in mind since the very start. There is an obvious slant in the design, however, as the game needed to be simplified for the Xbox when it came to details such as the user interface. The radial menu Shadowrun utilizes for the buying of weaponry and mid-game equipment switching makes sense with the dual-analog setup of the 360 controller. On the PC, clicking through such menus isn't near as fluid in the heat of combat. That is where the advantage ends.

The advantage of the keyboard and mouse has always been the ability to instantaneously react to any given situation with a snap of the wrist. In our time with Shadowrun, we found that the role you take and playing as a cohesive unit is much more important that your ability to twitch out a snipe. Kills come harder and the use of your magic powers in both offensive and defensive manners will decide your outcome.

Whether we played with the Xbox 360 controller or the keyboard and mouse, our performance was never impacted with one or the other. On the battlefield, it was impossible to tell which players were utilizing what setup and that is the sign of a successful convergence. If this is what the future of the Games for Windows brand has to offer for both PC and console gamers, color us excited. We don't expect everyone to believe that the two input devices can be considered equals, but we'd like to urge you to believe.

Come on back this weekend as we take a closer look a Shadowrun itself, including a Q&A with that lovable loudmouth of FASA Studios, Studio Manager Mitch Gitelman.

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