having even played a demo of Shadow The Hedgehog,
I wasn't sure what to expect. Now having played it,
I sure as hell wasn't expecting this. Unlike
last years popular and more importantly, playable,
Sonic Heroes, Shadow The Hedgehog is a misstep in
almost every direction.
Shadow, the dark and mysterious character who debuted
in Sonic Adventure Battle 2, Sonic Team has placed
an emphasis on more mature gameplay; hence Shadow
carries a gun and themes of murder and violence are
found within. On the one hand I admire Sonic Team
attempting to release a slightly darker game (although
it's still rated E for everyone) then waht you'd find
in the average Sonic franchise, but on the other hand,
the game design and mechanics don't mesh into a cohesive
gameplay experience. Sonic Team would have been much
further ahead had they continued in the direction
of Sonic Heroes instead of this amalgam of platforming,
shooting and speeding through levels. Sometimes you
won't even have to play; you can just watch the action
go by - just as you did in Sonic Adventure when Sonic
would go through the loops. Remember how much fun
that was just watching the game play for you? Yeah,
me neither. Unfortunately that's not the only problem
you'll have to choke down.
loss of memory told through an excellent cutscene
at the beginning is the catalyst for the entire adventure.
After being contacted by a menacing figure known as
Black Doom who commands Shadow to find the...come
on....guess what he has to locate.....7 Chaos Emeralds!
Upon receipt of the Chaos Emeralds Black Doom will
return the hedgehogs memory. So the race is on to
locate all of the precious items which have been a
staple of the series since day one. Acting of his
own volition, Shadow is a free agent and can therefore
team up with whomever he feels can be the most benefit
to him in any given situation. At least that's how
it looks on paper. Execution is another matter entirely.
At the tap of the D-Pad, Shadow can team with Black
Doom, Eggman or Sonic and his pals. Since sides can
be switched instantly, this naturally throws a little
monkeywrench into the current objectives and that's
not necessarily a bad thing. It actually provides
some healthy replay value for those who have the patience
to put up with the games less than stellar mechanics.
However since your allegiances can be altered willy-nilly,
those whom you were once enemies with are now your
allies, but guess what? They can still hurt you. Makes
sense, doesn't it? No. Not at all.
worst offender is the spastic camera mixed with the
speed (which is pretty intense) which leads to frequent
deaths, some of which occur due to falling through
the environment or the camera being stuck on something
while you're flying on ahead blindly. These are some
of the same problems I had with the original Sonic
Adventure on Dreamcast and it's absolutely astonishing
that nothing has been done in six years to improve
the game camera which has caused problems in almost
all Sonic games released
in recent memory. The other nuisance is lost moments
of gameplay where you're forced to watch Shadow go
through a scripted event such as a loop de loop. I
bought the game to play it, not watch it while the
CPU gets to do all of the cool stuff.
we reported in our preview guns play a large part
in distancing Shadow from his spikey blue-haired counterpart.
The weapons are helpful and necessary as jumping on
enemies is kind of weak by this point in the series
but the target lock function isn't very good due to
the overly sensitive controls. You might get off on
this for awhile if you can handle hours of repetition.
You'll run a bit, shoot a bit, run a bit, shoot a
bit and eventually you'll make it the end of the game.
To up the gameplay ante even more, Shadow will have
the ability to drive vehicles such as a mech and a
hummer knock off but doing so won't increase your
Team can't be faulted for their mastery of a solid
graphics engine. At times this game looks amazing
which might lull you in a false sense of fun especially
if you're a graphics whore. The opening cinema is
enough to have Sonic fans kneeling on the floor, spewing
"We're not worthy" to an imaginary Yuji
Naka. Some of the game environments are equally as
into consideration Sonic Rush was just recently on
the DS with great fanfare, it's extremely hard to
recommend this completely unecessary spin off to anyone.
It's not that Shadow isn't an interesting character,
he's just not that interesting. Someone
needs to tell him "The fans just aren't that
in to you, Shadow." With a totally retro-classic
Sonic already appearing on a DS near you, I can only
suggest that if you own Nintendo's new handheld that
you should seek out the real hedgehog and buy that
game. If you're insatiably curious as to exploring
the Shadow mythos just to see where it goes, by all
means rent it for a few days.