|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Grasshopper Manufacture|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: June 21, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language|
Even though Shadows is less like a horror game and more like a raunchy punk-rock action thriller, there's still enough blood and guts to please gorehounds, no matter how deep your appetite for all things red and squishy might be. In fact, there are several levels where you can't even see the floor because it's covered in human body parts. During the course of the game, you'll come across piles of dismembered bodies and what look like fire pits where demons had been feeding on a human (or two). The enemy designs are also fairly terrifying, and several of the bosses are nasty abominations in their own right.
Obviously, the game has no shortage of strengths, but it also has some issues that keep it from being a perfect game. There are small problems—like Garcia's inability to run for more than a few seconds before having to stop to catch his breath, a certain swamp near the midpoint of the game where I could kill waves of enemies for an endless supply of gems, or the lack of checkpoints in a few key areas of the game—but those will rarely frustrate. Then there are the bigger issues, like the many things in this game that can slay you in one hit. Two areas in particular got frustrating when they were repeated: when Garcia has to run from his enraged girlfriend who will kill him if she manages to catch up with him, and the gentleman's club areas where you have to snipe large oncoming enemies before they reach you (thus killing you instantly). Having one or two areas where you can die instantly is acceptable, but there's more than that here.
There were also a few strange technical flaws, like achievements that don't stack (you'll have to beat it on each difficulty for every achievement), the startling lack of a New Game Plus option, and a few graphical glitches that had me feeding diamonds to the air rather than the merchant demon's mouth. More than three weapons would've been welcome, but that problem's mostly remedied by the upgrades. Instead of simply increasing damage, firing speed, etc. (you can do that too), as you progress throughout the game, the functionality of your arsenal will change enough to make it feel like you've actually gone through nine weapons (each one has three upgrades, adding new features and a different look to each).
In case I haven't pounded it in yet, this is a very bizarre game. I say this in the best way possible, because its originality makes it unpredictable. I guarantee you won't know what's going to happen until it has, and more often than not the results are hilarious. If you want to experience a game that's different from everything that's come before it, Shadows of the Damned is for you. It's a tasty concoction of horror, humor, gore, and naughty bits that's guaranteed to make you laugh, scream, and beg for more. Oh, and stay after the credits for a musical treat; you won't regret it.
CCC Contributing Writer