(Pocket-lint) - Shadowrun plans to do something that has never been done before; bring Xbox 360 and Windows Vista gamers together on one platform to battle it out. Pocket-lint was invited for a preview of the game in London before its official launch in the UK later in the year.
Called Shadowrun, the game is the first cross platform game available to allow gamers to complete against each other. In what it likely to be advertised as you Console gamers chance to prove the controller is better than a mouse and keyboard combo (or vice versa) the game will launch at the same time as Microsoft's new Windows for Live gaming service.
Running in virtually an identical way to Xbox Live the two services will be interoperable so you can share friends, tags, and profiles etc regardless of platform.
Like the Xbox Live offering there is likely to be a subscription fee attached, however Pocket-lint has learnt that Xbox Live Gold members will get access to the Windows for Live service included in their package for free.
Back to the game at hand and Shadowrun is yet another take on the multiplayer arena games most online gamers will know and love.
But unlike Unreal Tournament where you've got to use your jumping and weapons skills to survive, Shadowrun aims to bring a whole new dimension to the mix - magic.
"We haven't just taken a weapon and made it look like a fireball or an ice spell", Mitch Gitelman, the games studio manager told us. "We've really added magical powers here from combat teleporting to creating blockades."
And that they have. Whether it’s the ability to combat teleport, or bring the dead back to life, magic it seems, is all around.
Rather than jumping and shooting, although they are equally as important, the main emphasis is gliding and teleporting to get around quickly. Gliding is, as you would expect, the ability to glide around the maps, giving you much greater jump abilities. It's a bit like that space level in Unreal Tournament that when you get it wrong you fall of the edge of the map and die and painful death.
Combined with, but working on its own as well, is Combat Teleport. Press the button and you jump 10 metres in the direction you are moving. It certainly makes getting around easier, but also means that you can teleport through walls, floors or ceilings. From an attack combat point of view, it makes the game a completely different animal.
But these aren't the only impressive magic skills you can pull off. Smoke for example allows you to turn into just that missing bullets or giving you the ability to sneak up on enemies.
Others include the ability to block entrances with crystals, grow a life tree to give you and other players health and the ability to bring players back from the dead.
Teleport through a wall, turn to smoke, sniper your opponent and then teleport back all before the other player can work out what on earth has happened.
Of course as you might expect all this comes at a cost. Although magic regenerates, certain spells take more to perform and if you regenerate someone then you forfeit some of your power to keep them alive. If you die, there health is affected too and they've got to find another player on their team to get ready to bring them back when they die again.
But it's not all about magic. Shadowrun features the usual array of weapons and tech to keep the gun tooting fans happy. Like Counter-Strike, the start of each mission presents gamers with a shop that allows you to buy magic spells or weapons. Like Counter-Strike, in fact some members on the team developed it as well, you can earn money for your performance, however unlike Counter-Strike you are awarded for your effort rather than just your kill ratio. So if you and a team mate take another player down you both earn cash rather than just the one that got the kill.
Finally, if all the above wasn't enough, the developers have added races into the mix giving them all different strengths and weakness rather than just a different look. Elves, Human, Trolls and Dwarves make up the mix and powers range from more magic power to greater armour.
One of the biggest criticisms of Shadowrun is going to be that there is no single player element to it making this a pure play multiplayer action fest that requires you to play either with others at a LAN party or online.
As for the balance between playing it on an Xbox 360 or PC having played both in our first look session there is little to differential the two. The graphics are virtually identical and the controllers don't have any greater power in game over the keyboard and mouse users - it's left to gamers skill.
The only other criticism we can see is that the lack of initial maps. According to Mitch Gitelman there will be only 8-10 maps, however he defends this by asking how many maps you really ever played on "Counter-Strike"?
Overall despite our reservations on these points it’s a definite thumbs up from us.
Shadowrun is due out later this year.