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Neither fantasy or science fiction entirely, it is set in a futuristic Earth where 'metahumans' suddenly came into being with the return of magic, as ordinary humans were born or metamorphosed into races like Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, and Trolls. A massive, world-wide internet virus resulted in the deterioration of society and erosion of nations, which has led to a very different power structure - corporations.
You control a young man whose brother was savagely assassinated in the barren wilderness known as Salish-Shidhe. You have spent your last Nuyen to reach Seattle, so that you can find your brother's killer. You have the choice of being a Human Samurai, Gator Shaman (magic user), or a Decker (specializing in operation of the 'Matrix').
Your income will come from being a 'Shadowrunner', an independent mercenary working for those known anonymously as 'Mr. Johnson's', and performing jobs such as hacking into corporate Matrix systems to upload or download files, breaking into corporation buildings in search of items or employees seeking career changes, escorting businessmen or packages from destination to destination across the dangerous landscape (even across the street may prove no picnic), or fighting world-wide street gangs like the Mafia and Yakuza in an effort to stop their reign of terror.
While most of the game's action occurs in 3rd-person, bird's eye view from overhead while you roam the streets of a futuristic society, you will also be up close and personal in a 2nd-person view while in the matrix, fighting virtual system protections and programs.
And on top of all this, you can call taxis from one area to another, call contacts via 'VidPhone', buy weapons/armor/magic accessories/cyberdeck items (stuff for the Matrix)/healing materials (and much more), join a gang, customize your character through a unique 'Karma' system while at hotels, give yourself a technological advantage by installing cyberware, and fight creatures like the ghouls, hellhounds, and vampires which inhabit abandoned buildings, the wilderness, and sometimes even brazenly walk the streets or are employed in corporations, ready to attack!
For sheer game play content and value, this is one of the few games comparable to the Final Fantasy series, and is heavily under-rated.
You start having just arrived in Seattle, 2052, and having just spent all your money to get there. The innkeeper at the place where your bro was staying recommends you do some shadowruns to get the $$ together to get back your brother's stuff.
The gameplay in Shadowrun is non linear. You must unravel the mystery of your brother's death, and to do so you'll need better gear, lots of contacts and loads of cred. This game IS an rpg, so every run you complete gives you exp in the form of Karma, which you use to boost your skills as you see fit.
Money is the name of the game. Usually, you walk around inrealtime, overhead perspective and conduct your business, but there is also an internet in the game (the Matrix, which the movie stole from FASA) where you can break into corporation's databanks and steal info for personal use and for selling.
So, Shadowrun is a phenomenal game. It's easy to get lost in the atmosphere of corporate ruthlessness and mystery as you collect the clues and contacts necessary to accomplish your goal.
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