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Game developers are proving they don’t need to sell you a plastic disc to deliver fun.

Stellar add-ons such as new levels of “Fallout 3” and new Nazi zombies for “Call of Duty: World at War” have made downloadable content more appealing. Xbox Live even lets you download older favorites, such as “BioShock,” right onto your hard drive.

However, it’s newly created downloadable games, such as “Battlefield 1943,” and now “Shadow Complex,” that have been the real winners this season. These titles don’t offer quite the experience of a Triple-A title, but they offer a good entertainment value for their smaller price tag, usually around $10 or $15.

“Shadow Complex” was developed by Chair Entertainment and Epic Games for Microsoft Game Studios. The T-rated game is available only through Xbox Live.

You play as Jason Flemming, a guy who just wants to have a good time hiking with his girlfriend, Claire. However, when Claire climbs into a cave, she’s grabbed by paramilitary goons who take her deep underground. It’s your job to rescue Claire and figure out what’s up with the exceptionally well-equipped thugs known as the Restoration.

The game is basically a side-scrolling adventure and combat game. You leap, crawl and climb through various rooms and passageways in an underground fortress.

And you blast away with various weapons, including a cool gun that shoots a quick-hardening foam that can create barriers to protect you from foes or build stairways to provide access to new locations.

The levels and challenges are very well designed. While your foes aren’t always particularly smart, it usually requires a little thought and solid tactics to clear a room.

In addition, the graphics are far superior to those in old-school side-scrollers. The cavernous complex is well rendered and the animations are very good — especially when you go in for a melee attack. The camera zooms in on Jason for a good view of his takedown move.

This all adds up to a game that’s fun and looks good — and definitely a good bargain.

Platform: Xbox 360, via Xbox Live


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