This section is basically for those who aren't familiar with Shadowrun and/or don't have access to a game manual. A lot of the stuff here is very basic and rudimentary, so you may want to skip it if you already know how to play. On the other hand, there is a lot of good info and tips here (especially in the "Other Stuff" parts of each section), and I bet that even advanced players would learn a thing or two if they read this section thoroughly. So, if you want to familiarize yourself with the different gameplay aspects of Shadowrun, by all means, read on. But if you want to get right to the zesty lists, spoilers, and advanced techniques, then you should probably skip to Section III.
While a great deal of the plot hinges on spending time in the Matrix (see part 2 of this section for details), you'll still probably spend most of your time walking around in the "real" world. Here's some info to get you started.
Most of the time, you'll work within the main action screen. Along the right side is a bar with three windows, one for each member of your party. You, Joshua, will always be in the first window, and, where applicable, your fellow runner(s) will use the other two. In each window, you'll see the character's portrait. Down the left side of the portrait is the character's physical health bar. Across the bottom of the portrait is their mental health bar. If either of these reach zero (empty) while in the real world, you'll lose consciousness. If you're in the Matrix, a different set of rules apply -- see the Matrix part in this section for details. Below your character's face is a picture of the weapon he or she has equipped, and to the left of the picture is a number representing the number of rounds left in the weapon. The character that you're controlling won't automatically reload when that number reaches 00; you need to hit the fire button to load the next clip, assuming you have one. The computer-controlled characters will reload when necessary, but will walk around with an empty weapon if they spend their last round as the battle ends. If this happens, you may want to switch over to the character and reload for them, just so they'll be a little more ready for the next battle.
Here are some other tips for general non-Matrix gameplay.
- You don't need to hit many buttons to interact with your surroundings. To enter a building, walk through the door. To talk to an NPC, operate a computer terminal, or confront a locked door, just walk up to it and stand in front of it. To pick up an item lying on the ground, walk over it. If you don't pick it up, then that character is already carrying as much as he or she can hold.
- You can't enter buildings or leave the area when under attack. There are a few loopholes, though. The terminals still work during battle, so you can call a cab out of there. Also, if you're really desperate, you can try to lead your attackers on a wild goose chase throughout town. If you manage to get them far enough off screen, the battle system will "forget" about them and you'll be allowed to enter buildings. There's a good chance that they'll still be chasing you when you come out, however.
- If you're walking around and your movement seems to slow down all of a sudden, or you notice some other sudden odd change in your movement speed, you probably have some thugs on your tail. When out of combat, your party moves at a fixed speed. When in combat (and you are "in combat" as soon as the hostile enemies are generated, regardless of if they're on screen), your attributes determine your walking speed, so you'll probably notice a slight difference when entering or ending combat. Just use it as a heads- up.
- Your party members (when you have any) are generally good at following you, but sometimes they will wander off and get lost. This is particularly likely to happen in mazelike areas such as corporation buildings and caves. If you find yourself missing a runner, they probably got distracted by an enemy... or maybe they're just plain confused. You can switch over to them and get them back with the rest of the party, or just go through a door or to a different area and reunite everyone.
- Dead bodies of enemies will disappear as soon as they are offscreen. Dead bodies of fellow runners, as well as items that are lying on the ground, will stay there until you leave the area.
Now that you know how to get around the Seattle area, here are some tips on battles, with which you'll soon become quite familiar.
Since all battles will take place in the normal action screen, you can just read the previous part for a description. However, there are a few things that are slightly different when in combat, so you might want to check them out before you continue. First, as mentioned before, you can use the B button to cycle through targets. But aside from directing your fire, the crosshair will also tell you the enemy's health. It starts out green, but will gradually turn to yellow and then red as the target loses more life. This is useful for a number of reasons, especially in situations when you're dealing with a bunch of enemies and you want to know which one is closest to dying so you know where to focus your attacks. Another thing about the screen during battles is that if you target a civilian, the target will wear off after a moment or two. I presume this is to keep you from murdering innocent bystanders, but I guess the programmers didn't realize how fun and profitable this would end up being. So, if you're going to go on a shooting spree downtown, make sure to re-target the guy you're shooting at every few seconds. Remember, you don't need to do this for real enemies, only innocents. You sicko.
Despite what was said in the previous paragraph, there is a fair amount of strategy involved in at least the setup of your party for battles, if not in the battles themselves. Many different elements combine to determine the effectiveness of your and your enemies' attacks.
- Perhaps most importantly, you should set your fellow runners' Postures to Full Offense. Posture does two different things for human- and computer- controlled characters. For your character, it affects overall offensive and defensive power. Of course, there's a tradeoff between the two, so Neutral or Mid Defense are good settings for a nice balance. For the computer-controlled people, though, Posture determines how they'll act during combat. Full Defense characters will basically run and hide during battles, and Full Offense characters will charge right in and start blasting. Now, strategy has a place in gunfights, especially in real life. In this game, though, there's not much you can do other than sit there shelling the guy. So, unless you have a seriously frail runner that needs to be protected, you'll want your runners to earn their salt by backing you up in firefights. The point is, even in a Neutral posture, the members of your party will probably be too hesitant in battle to help your cause, and changing them to Full Offense will help this. Just remember, if you switch characters, the Posture has a different effect, so don't change control and then wonder why your character was killed so easily. A Full Offense Posture on the character you're controlling makes him or her very susceptible to attacks. Be careful.
- If someone in your party is killed (or knocked unconscious or whatever happens when you run out of life), remember that all you need to do is use a healing item to bring them back. Unlike a lot of RPG-type games, there is no special item or technique required to revive someone. Just pump a little more health into them and they'll be fine. You can even use items from the dead person's own inventory. It's no big deal.
- On the other hand, NOT reviving a dead character can be bad news. If someone is out of commission and you leave the screen without reviving them, that person is out of your party and must be re-hired, even if they were signed on as permanent runners. Plus, when you go back to them, they will like you less and may ask for more money. Also, if Joshua dies and you leave the screen without reviving him, it will be as though your whole party got wiped out. You'll wake up at Little Chiba, your runners will be gone, and if you were in the middle of a courier- or acquisition-type run, you will have failed. Bummer. So keep plenty of restoratives handy.
- Each weapon has ratings for Damage and Power. These are two very different things. Power is the chance that attacks with that weapon will penetrate the enemy's armor. Damage is the amount of damage that will actually be done if the attacks go through. A high Damage rating is good, but if the weapon doesn't have enough Power to actually get through the target's armor, no damage will be done at all.
- A few things to consider when choosing weapons: the best guns in the game are shotguns, in terms of raw power. The Allegiance is the most destructive gun around, while the Roomsweeper is nearly as powerful while holding more ammo. Despite this, it's probably best to carry around SMGs or heavy pistols along with your shotguns. Why? Because unlike shotguns, SMGs and pistols can be accessorized, making them more accurate, and more importantly, quieter. During corp runs, one blast of a shotgun will set off the alarm and cause all kinds of headaches. But you can fire off your silenced pistol or SMG all day without setting off the alarm. This may seem like a minor detail, but once you start doing corp runs, you'll know how much time and trouble can be saved by avoiding setting off alarms. Also, SMGs and pistols make better use of their ammo as opposed to shotguns, which can only hold 5 or 7 rounds at a time. So, if you want to be a badass and kill everything without thinking, sure, grab a shotgun. But if you want to rely more on finesse, stealth, and efficiency, pack a modified HK227-S or my personal favorite, the Predator heavy pistol.
- I'm not a big fan of grenades. Maybe you will have great success with them, but in my opinion, they're darn near worthless. It takes so long to distance yourself properly from your target, turn, throw it, and wait for it to arc way up and then land, that in the same amount of time, you probably could have killed the guy with a few gun blasts. Plus, the splash damage can seriously hurt you, and it's not like you can hide halfway across the screen and hurl them from a safe distance. Enemies will always follow you, so if you try to leave some space between yourself and the target you'll probably end up either missing (because the guy followed you when you ran away after throwing it) or hurting yourself (because the guy was so close that you ended up getting hit by the splash damage). And as far as that "Frag Grenades can open locked doors" thing, um, buy a Maglock Passkey. Jeez.
- Just a reminder, no matter what weapon you're using (except your fists, and even then, it's tough to miss), you won't need to aim. Just select your target and fire, and your character will automatically train his or her shots toward the target, even if their back is to the enemy.
- No, you and your teammates can not hurt each other with your own gunfire. Grenades are a different story, though...
- If you have Spurs, or to a lesser extent, Hand Razors, you may want to try them out on enemies who seem to be absorbing all your shots. For someone who has high physical attributes, melee attacks can be among the most powerful in the game. Even to a maxed out character who's using an Allegiance shotgun, it may take several shots to kill a Renraku agent, but that same agent will usually go down pretty easily if you move in and start attacking with Spurs.
- How effective your attacks are depends heavily on your attributes. Make sure to read the section on attributes to determine which ones you need to work on in order to improve your attacks.
- How close you're standing to your target has a small but significant effect on the damage done to both you and it. Generally, it's best to avoid standing toe to toe with your enemies during a gunfight. Back off a little and you'll take less damage.
The Pause ScreenEdit
Pressing Start from the normal screen will pause the game and take you to the pause screen. This is a very important screen, and it has more useful things than I can list here. Just make sure you read this part to become familiar with this screen and how it can help you.
When you first hit Start, you'll see a rather convoluted screen with several pictures, lists, and buttons. Here's a description of what you're looking at.
In the upper left is a full portrait of the selected character. Below the portrait are the character's eight inventory slots. Weapons and armor with a light border around them are equipped. In the upper middle part of the screen, the largest area, is basic info about the character: name, race and class, physical and mental health (expressed in percentages instead of the life bars you normally see), the equipped weapon/magic with its corresponding Damage and Power ratings (and Drain, too, if you have a magic spell equipped), your overall attack and defense levels, and finally, your equipped armor and its ratings against weapons (melee combat and grenades) and guns.
On the right side of the screen is the same bar that's there throughout most of the game with your characters' portraits, health, ammo, and weapon. At the bottom of the screen are the controls. The buttons running along the bottom will take you to different screens within the main screen; more on those in just a sec. Above the buttons is the Posture slider.
Note that the cursor starts out on the buttons at the bottom. To access your inventory, simply move the cursor over to the left until it's in the inventory area. To use the Posture slider, just move the cursor upwards from the buttons, use left and right to adjust the Posture, and move it back down when you're done.
Within the main screen are several subscreens that have even more detailed info about your party and the game itself. Move the cursor to the desired button and hit A to enter the screen. From left to right, the subscreens are: Clips, Attributes/Skills, Cyberware, Magic, and Pocket Secretary. Also covered in this part are your options with inventory items.
In this screen, you can manage the clips each character is holding. When you hit the Clips button, you'll be shown the number of clips the character is holding and you'll be given the following choices:
- Reload - Reloads your weapon with a new clip, even if it's not empty. Reloading in this manner is not necessary when your weapon is empty -- just hit the fire button again and you'll reload.
- Trade - Not really trading, more like giving. Pick a runner and choose how many clips the current character will give them.
- Distribute - Takes the total number of clips held by all runners and divides the clips evenly among them. A useful feature.
- Cancel - Takes you back to the main screen.
This screen will show you a list of the selected character's ratings in all the different attribute and skill areas. Also shown is the amount of Karma the character currently has. This is a pretty important screen, so make sure you read the section on Attributes and Skills to understand how everything works.
Probably the least useful screen, this simply lists whatever Cyberware that the character has. Multiple installations of the same cyberware are denoted by a number in parenthesis.
Takes you to the Magic subscreen where you can equip magic spells and change their settings. If the character can't use magic, it just shows his or her ratings for defense against magic. If the selected character is a mage or shaman, however, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the following screen:
- Magic Subscreen
This is where you manage your magic spells. Across the bottom of the screen are spaces for the spells you've learned. Unlike the cyberdeck screen, which otherwise is very similar to the magic screen, magic spells are added in the order that they are learned -- each spell does not have its own spot that it always occupies. Just a note for the obsessives out there who want their spells to be arranged a certain way...
The top of the screen shows the spell currently highlighted by the cursor (not the currently equipped spell; check your portrait in the sidebar for that), and a brief description of its effects. Below this are four bars (sometimes five -- see below) and two sliders: The Success bar shows the selected spell's chance of success at the current Force and Posture settings. The Drain bar shows you how much mental drain will occur each time you cast the spell -- unless you have a fetish, of course. If this is starting to sound odd to you, you may want to check out Section VIII to learn how magic works.
Anyway, the Damage bar will appear above the Force and Posture sliders when an attack spell is chosen. It simply shows the spell's Damage rating with the current Force and Posture settings. The Damage ratings of magic spells are comparative to the Damage ratings for any weapon or grenade that you've previously seen.
The last two bars are your magic defense ratings against the two types of attack magic: Physical and Mana. As mentioned before, these two bars will be all that non-magic-users will be shown when selecting the Magic option from the pause menu.
Finally, there are the Force and Posture sliders. If you've played a fantasy RPG before, you're probably familiar with the concept of spells that have multiple "levels" of power. That's kind of what the Force of a spell is here. Depending on your character's Magic attribute, as well as how many levels of a spell you've bought, you can use the Force slider to choose how powerful the spell cast will be. Increasing a spell's Force will increase its Success rate while also increasing its drain rate. Changing your Posture (note that the Posture shown here is NOT separate from the Posture shown in the main pause screen -- it's just duplicated here to let you analyze its effects on your spell) will have about the same effect. It's important to use a good combination of the two sliders in order to efficiently manage the tradeoff between Success and Drain.
That's it for the screen. Use the D-pad to move the cursor around. Hit A to change a spell's settings for Force and Posture (use Up and Down on the D-pad to switch between sliders), and hit A again to equip that spell. When you're satisfied, hit Start to leave the Magic screen.
The Pocket Secretary is probably the most useful part of the pause screen. It keeps track of everything that's going on in the game through several subscreens, listed here:
- Notebook - Contains all the info you need to help you in your quest. Has five features:
- Current Run - Lists all the relevant info from the Shadowrun you're currently on, assuming you do have a job.
- Tips & Clues - A very useful feature. This lists all the information you've gathered as you've played. Pages will automatically be added as you learn new things and advance the plot, and pages will automatically be deleted as they become irrelevant or are replaced with better or more detailed information. If you're ever stuck, check here.
- Contacts - This is a list of contacts you've made with people in and around Seattle. Select a name for a short description of the person, along with a list of the various information, equipment and services that he or she has to offer.
- Mr. Johnsons - If you don't know what a Mr. Johnson is, read the section on Shadowrunning. Once you've made a contact with a Johnson, he will be listed in this screen. Selecting the Johnson's name will bring up a short description of him, including the types of runs he contracts and where to find him.
- Shadowrunners - Like the last two, this is a list of the Shadowrunners you've met. Select a name to see the runner's race and class, as well as where to find him or her.
- Group Items - This subscreen is simply a list of "key items" (to borrow from the Square RPG vernacular) that you are carrying. Things like permits, passports, packages for runs, and other items which can't be used per se, but have an effect on your party while they are being carried.
- Cyberdeck - This takes you to your Cyberdeck screen where you can check out the stats of your deck, and load programs for use in the Matrix. This is an important and complex screen, so it won't be covered right here. Refer to Part 4 of this section for info on how to use the Cyberdeck screen.
- Dismiss Runner - Just what it says, picking this option will list your current fellow runners, and you can pick one to let go. This is useful for when you want to hire a new runner, but have a full party already. Beware, though, dismissing a runner will have the same effect as failing a mission: The next time you talk to them, they won't like you as much and will probably ask for more money.
- Save/Load Game - Another self-explanatory function. Use this to save and load your game. The game can't be saved or loaded in a building or during combat.
If you move your cursor all the way to the left of the buttons (or wrap it around from the right), it will be in your inventory window. From here, you can select an item and usually do one of the following things with it: Equip/Unequip (for weapons... for items, this changes to a context- sensitive action equivalent to "use"), Discard, Trade, or Cancel. Picking Equip/Unequip does just that -- toggles the item between equipped and unequipped. You can only equip one weapon and one piece of armor at a time. Discard drops the item (for good... it doesn't appear on the ground next to you or anything), Trade lets you pick a fellow runner to give the item to, and Cancel brings you back to the main screen.
Also known as Cyberspace, the Matrix is the other half of the game. It's nearly impossible to go through the game without experiencing the Matrix at least once, and a lot of really important things can be done by using cyberspace. This part will give you enough info to get you off the ground. For advanced strategy, cyberdeck stuff, and Matrix run info, consult the Guide to the Matrix section.
The Matrix actually has several screens that you'll often see. When you first jack in, you'll be taken to the cyberdeck screen to check your info and tune your deck before actually entering cyberspace. This cyberdeck screen is split down the middle. The right portion is where all the text appears. The left portion contains a list of all the programs you have stored on your deck, divided up into three categories, each containing four programs. From the top down, you'll see Combat utilities, Defense utilities, and Mask/Sense utilities. Highlighting any program with the cursor will show you its stats and a short description in the text window. If you want more information on what the programs are and what they're used for, consult the Matrix section. For now, just know that they're shown on the cyberdeck screen.
The last row, below the Mask/Sense programs, is the all-important Command row. The four icons found here aren't programs to load, but commands to execute. Make sure you are familiar with each function, as they are easy to forget about, but can very helpful to you:
This first selection gives you two choices: Deck Stats and Run Info. Deck Stats simply shows you the stats of your current deck (see the Matrix section for discussion of the stats themselves). Run Info is only used when you're under contract for a Matrix run and are actually jacked in (in other words, even if you've been contracted for a Matrix run, this option won't tell you anything if you access the cyberdeck screen via your pocket secretary). If you are, you can choose this option for a brief description of the run you're on, including which Node you need to get to, the title of that Node, and what action you need to perform once you get there.
Selecting this item will bring you to a screen that gives you your deck's total storage capacity, followed by its remaining free space. Then, you'll be given a chance to view or erase data files that you have stored. Pick View to see a list of the data files you have, or pick Erase to erase a few to free up space. If you pick Erase, the screen will cycle through all your data files, one at a time, from oldest to newest, each time asking you if you want to delete the file.
Sysmap's two options are pretty handy. You can pick Show Map to see a map of the current system, or choose Retreat to retreat to the Node you just visited. Note that there are several situations in which retreat is not possible, such as if the current Node is the only one you've visited (duh) or if you just hopped across the system via the CPU. Most importantly, though, you can't retreat once combat has begun. So, be sure you know what you're up against before running any programs, because once you launch an attack or get tripped up by the Node's ice, it's a fight to the death.
- Jack Out!
Choose this option when you want to leave the Matrix. You'll disconnect and be returned to the real world. You can do this at any time. The only other thing you may need to know is that if you're at a Node with live BlackIce, any attempts to jack out may be blocked by the BlackIce, and you'll probably end up taking physical damage, too.
As for the rest of the cyberdeck screen, the only other part is the bar across the bottom of the screen that shows the status of the Persona and of loaded programs. The Persona is the electronic manifestation of your character in the Matrix. It's the character that you're controlling. Most of the time, the first box on the left will show you a portrait of the Persona. When you fight BlackIce, though, the portrait will change to the actual character's portrait to signify that the ice is directly attacking your body, not just your online Persona. To the right of the portrait is your energy meter. This works just like any other life meter in the game. In the Matrix, if your Persona loses all its energy, it gets dumped from the system. If you're fighting BlackIce and lose all your energy, you get dumped as well as suffering the normal effects of losing all your physical health: You get knocked out. Some ice can even fry your deck on the way out, rendering you unable to access the Matrix until you've repaired your deck.
Across the rest of the bar are the five slots for programs that you have loaded. Before you can use any of the programs on your deck, you have to load them into memory. To do this, move the cursor to the utility you want to load and select it. Providing you have enough free memory (check the text window to see if it'll fit) and at least one open slot, the program will be put in a slot. To remove a program from memory and put it back into storage, select its icon, just as you would to load it, and answer yes when asked if you want to remove the program from memory.
Regardless of your system's memory capacity, you can only have five programs loaded at any one time... hence the five slots. You'll notice that along with the space for the program's icon, each slot will have two bars. The vertical bar on the left of the icon is the success bar and the horizontal bar below the icon is the loading bar. The success bar is an approximation of the chance of that program succeeding when run. Naturally, having low- grade programs or fighting powerful ice will diminish the chance of success, while the opposite will result in a high reading. It's just a simple way of gauging which program will work the best, so that you can make a better decision about what strategy to use.
The loading bar is only used if you load new programs after entering the Matrix. If, at some point, you decide to pause and load a new program, you will have to wait a while upon returning to the Matrix before the program can be run. Only one program can be loaded at a time, so if you put in several new programs, the deck will load them from left to right. As you may have guessed, the loading bar shows the loading progress of each program. When the bar fills all the way up, the program is ready to be run. Keep in mind that the programs that you choose while in a Node, or before you first enter the Matrix, are instantly loaded -- the load time issue only comes up when switching your programs on the fly. Also note that this load time, which is only done once, is different from the refresh time of the program, which is done every time you run it (there are a few exceptions, however -- see the Guide to the Matrix section for more info). Finally, as you may have expected, upgrading your deck's stats will reduce load times.
Besides the pause screen, the rest of cyberspace is pretty straightforward. The screen you'll see most of the time, which I'll call the action screen, consists of your Persona, the electronic environment that is the Matrix, two HUDs (heads-up displays), and the same bar across the bottom of the screen that was described above.
When you're in the Matrix, you'll see large geometric shapes known as Nodes. Nodes make up the structure of each system. In order to get anywhere in cyberspace, you'll need to be able to move in and out of the hundreds of interconnected Nodes. To gain access to a Node, you need to defeat the ice guarding it by using the programs on your deck. For a list of ice types and the programs that can be used against them, consult the Guide to the Matrix section. On the screen, ice looks like a small animation that stands between you (the Persona) and the Node.
The HUD in the upper left has the following information:
- Name and level of the program currently selected by the cursor
- Program status (loading, ready, in progress, effects, etc...)
- Alert status
The first two probably don't need any explanation, but if you haven't heard of alerts, then you should pay attention. Beside voluntarily jacking out, or as a result of attacks by ice, the only other way to get dumped from a system is to max out the alert system. When you enter a network, no alerts are activated. Sometimes, though, the system will notice your actions and activate an alert. You can trigger an alert in a number of ways: basically anything you do from inside a Node, even including going to the pause screen, can trip up the alert system. Also, many forms of ice have attacks whose sole purpose is to sound an alert if successful.
The first time you slip up, the system will go to Passive Alert. All enemy programs will become more powerful, ice will become more hostile, and ice that has been hidden may start to attack. If the system is in Passive Alert and you trigger another alert, the system will go to Active Alert. All enemy Nodes, ice, and programs will become even more powerful and hostile, and more dormant ice may come out to attack. Finally, if you trip up the system one more time during an Active Alert, you'll overload the system and will be dumped immediately.
Alerts can seriously hurt you, so you should know that if you manage to get into the system's CPU, you can cancel all alerts as often as needed. Also, ice behave in odd ways that will sometimes affect how alerts work. The most important examples of this are the Tar Paper/Tar Pit Nodes, which are able to send the system from No Alert directly to Active Alert. For more info on this and other little tidbits, check the Matrix Guide section.
The HUD on the right has Node information:
- Type of Node, Node color, and Node level
- Name of Node (and energy bar, when in combat)
- Primary ice type and level
- Secondary ice type and level
If you want detailed explanations of these things and how they work, consult the Guide to the Matrix section. Otherwise, here's a general rundown: The first line has info on the Node itself: its function, and how powerful it is. The second line is its name, which will usually tell you what kind of stuff it's used for. This is helpful for when you're looking for a certain type of file or control. If you attack the Node or otherwise enter battle, this line will alternate between displaying the name and displaying an energy bar for the ice so you can see how close you are to defeating it. The third and fourth lines, when applicable, list the ice programs guarding the Node, along with the level, or overall strength, of each ice.
NOTE: When you first encounter a Node, only the Node type will be displayed in the HUD. To find out more info, you must run the Analyze utility, often several times before all info is displayed. Also, if you defeat the ice and enter the Node, you'll see all the available info the next time you jack in and fight the Node, as long as you didn't jack into another system in between visits.
In addition to the cyberdeck screen and the main cyberspace screen, you'll also see screens from the inside of each Node that have lists of options. How to manipulate Nodes is more for the Matrix Guide, so you'll have to look there for the info... but it's not that hard. You just pick an action and it will be performed. Of course, if your decker's Computer rating is too low, you can easily screw up and risk detection by the system.
When you leave a Node, you will be shown a system map. As said before, this map is also accessible from the cyberdeck screen. When moving from Node to Node, you'll see a human icon for your current location and a question mark cursor for your destination. Use left and right on the d-pad to cycle through destination Nodes, then confirm and you'll be whisked to the next Node. The map will only show the Nodes you've been to, along with all the Nodes that are accessible from the ones you've been to. Visited Nodes appear in their respective colors (unless you sleaze them or use the backtrack technique to gain access), while unvisited Nodes will show up gray. Finally, once you get inside the CPU, all the Nodes will be shown on the map. Plus, you'll be able to go directly to any Node on the system. It's a one-way trip, though, so make sure you know where you're going.
- As mentioned before, ANY action made from inside a Node can potentially trigger an alert. So, you should limit the number of actions you take when inside a Node. Don't be fickle and keep canceling out of the map screen when you're trying to decide where to go next; don't lock IOPs or disable SMs when you don't need to, and especially don't dig for datafiles in a DS unless you're on your way out of the system anyway, or if you're only one or two hops away from the (hopefully already-subdued) CPU. Also, remember that you can access the pause screen from ANYWHERE in the Matrix. So, if you want to switch programs around or check your run info, try to avoid doing it from inside a Node.
- If you want a ballpark estimate on how tough an ice is, just look at its animation. Weaker ice animates much more slowly than stronger ice. So, if you've just uncovered a Barrier that's spinning like mad, you're probably going to be in for a tough fight.
- Datafiles and programs share the same storage space, and higher-level programs take up more space than lower-level programs. This means that if you intend on making some money by selling datafiles, you shouldn't buy so many programs that you have no room to store your datafiles. Make use of the Storage command in your cyberdeck screen and keep an eye on your Available space. Datafiles can be up to 60Mp in size, and you have five slots to hold them, so if you have anything less than 300Mp (60x5) of available storage, you're not guaranteed to be able to get a full load of files every time you jack in. Most files are in the 30-40Mp range, so if you have less than 200Mp of storage, you're going to have a rough time sorting through the files you find until you get five that will fit in your deck.
- A good rule of thumb for fighting Nodes is to always try Deception before attacking. If you know for a fact that the defending ice is incompatible with Deception, you can go ahead and attack, but otherwise you should try Deception until one of three things happens:
- You successfully deceive the ice and enter the Node;
- You fail while running the program and enter combat; or
- You enter combat after running the program against an incompatible ice.
Many types of ice are susceptible to Deception, and these types won't attack unless you fail to run the program. So, to avoid combat, it's best to start every encounter with a Node by running Deception as much as you can, and only using Attack as a last resort.
- This kind of goes along with the last tip: When you first encounter a Node, the ice, no matter what kind, will take the form of a spinning polyhedron. Only after you enter combat will the ice reveal itself and start attacking. This means that, assuming you don't fail and start combat prematurely, you can run any non-Combat program you want before battle, and you won't run the risk of being attacked.
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