Shadow the Hedgehog Review

Developer: SEGA Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: November 15, 2005 Also On: GCN, PS2, and Xbox

Sega has decided to give Sonic’s arch nemesis, Shadow, his own game. In addition to this, for reasons beyond my comprehension, they decided to give him guns. It sounds preposterous, and you might ask yourself the question: Why would he need guns? The answer to this question, I cannot answer, considering the guns are essentially useless. You would actually do well to avoid the guns in the game, or take my humble advice, and avoid the game altogether.

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As you may have guessed, this game follows the story of Shadow the Hedgehog, who was first introduced on Sonic Adventure 2 on the Dreamcast. After slowly gaining popularity, he now has his very own adventure. The game follows the amnesia-ridden Shadow as he tries to piece together the fragments of his lost past. During this, a mysterious alien race named the “Black Arms� appears in the sky and begins to terrorize the city of Westopolis. Shadow, having no allegiance to the humans or the new found aliens, decides not to get involved in this bout until the alien boss, “Black Doom�, reveals that he knows parts of Shadow’s past. He agrees to get the seven Chaos Emeralds for Black doom, hoping to get information some about his past.

One good thing (a rare appearance) in this game is that there are various paths that you can choose to get to the end of the game. You can choose the hero path, the evil path, or even mix the two. There are a total of 22 levels in the game, each of them having different objectives that determine which path you’ll be taking. For example, in the first level, Westopolis, you can choose the good path by taking out all of the evil doers in the level. Or you can be evil by killing all the humans. Or if you don’t really care and just want to get thorough the level, you can just blaze through the level and grab the Chaos Emerald at the end of the level.

You receive guidance on the specific objectives you have to complete by one of the non-playable characters you’ll meet towards the beginning of the level. You’ll get information on how to complete the good path from Sonic or one of his friends, and an evil character, such as Black Dooms ‘evil eye’, to tell you how to complete the evil missions. Pressing the d-pad will switch between the two and they’ll stray behind you, telling you where to go or what to destroy. This, however, is not good, as their voices will be constantly annoying, as their incessant harping will never end, as they have some response to just about everything you do. Depending on which mission you complete, you’ll move on to one of three levels, which leads to a grand total of 22 levels and 11 different ending. While this is good, the difficulty of each level is extremely low, meaning that you can get through an ending in a mere of couple hours.

Although you have all of these multiple endings, just managing to get through the game one time without breaking a controller might be quite the task for some, due to disgrace that is the gameplay. Shadow the Hedgehog, in its essence, is like any other Sonic game. You’ll be flying by enemies, jumping on springboards, and doing various exaggerated loopty-loops. Shadow can do just about anything that Sonic can (although I personally think Sonic could whip Shadow 1v1), and, as mentioned before, can wield weapons, and use special ‘chaos’ attacks. The gun wielding is about as useless as a pinky on the back of your neck. You get weapons by killing enemies who drop them or breaking open various creates. The weapons range from machine guns, bazookas, and laser guns, to energy swords, tree limbs, and street signs. The problem with using weapons is that it’s extremely difficult to hit your intended target, due to the fact that there is absolutely no targeting system. Shadow will shoot at whatever is in front of him. The guns will auto-aim (though even the auto-aim often works selectively), however, there are usually several enemies on screen at the same time, and the auto-aim will not distinguish between friend and foe. Unless you need to use a weapon to continue with the story, I’d try my best to avoid using them.

Two gauges at the top of the screen determine your special chaos attacks. While running through the level, you can increase these gauges by attacking certain enemies, destroying certain items, and much more. Once you fill up your gauges, you can use your special chaos move. The hero move, called chaos control, will zoom you ahead in the level, which is usually, a bad thing considering that more than often you’ll miss important parts of the mission. The dark move, called chaos blast, will cause a huge explosion, destroying anything within the surrounding area.

The attack move that you’ll most often use (unless you’re extremely gifted with the guns) will not involve any weapon or tool at all. Shadow can perform a homing spin attack, quite similar to the one in the Sonic Adventure games, by jumping in the air, and then hitting the jump button again. By doing this you will attack the foe nearest to you. If there are several enemies on screen, you can simply chain-link the attacks and easily clear out a room. This seemingly easy to use move is once again heavily flawed, in that once again, you can’t distinguish between friend and enemy. This makes getting through the level tedious, and often aggravating, as you’ll often find yourself killing many that you had not intended to.

Controlling Shadow in this game is like trying to hang on to a greased-up wet bar of soap while your hands are lathered in butter. Unlike Sonic, Shadow moves across the ground on skates, so that he never really makes contact with the ground, making movement feel slippery. In addition to this, Shadows acceleration speed will put any sports car to shame. From a standstill position, holding the analog stick forward a mere second will blow Shadow into top speed. Once at top-speed, it’s very difficult to stop, change direction, or do anything very quickly. If the entire game was one linear path throughout every level, this would be fine, but most levels have various twists and turns, as well as a lot of platform jumping areas, where precision is key.

Shadow the Hedgehog also has a multiplayer, for those of you who want to share this travesty with a fellow chum of yours. The only mode is an all-out death match between you and a friend, in which you’ll compete in one of three levels, attempting to rid the other of rings, in hopes to eventually rack up a kill. The maps are a decent size, and are full of enemies, weapons, and vehicles. However, since there are only three maps and the combat in the game is similar to nailing Jello to a tree, the multiplayer is useless.

As if the terrible controls and annoying combat weren’t enough, there’s yet another enemy you’ll have to face: the camera. The camera is behind Shadow for the better part of the game, however it adjusts occasionally to show you key parts of the level. If you’re up against a boss, the camera will adjust to show you the position of the boss at all times. However, as with most things in this game, this system is flawed, as the camera only works sometimes, and trying to manually control your camera is fruitless because the camera will often get stuck. This forces you to make a lot of blind jumps and attacks, often resulting in you plummeting to your death.

The Graphics in Shadow the Hedgehog are, at best, just decent. The levels are fairly well colored, with the occasional unique level, such as a haunted castle or a futuristic prison. The explosions of the enemies and buildings are quite bland and very boring, as are most enemies. The guns, when equipped (heaven forbid), look ridiculous. The biggest problem however, is the frame rate when several enemies are on the screen. Some lag should be expected, but I often find myself overshooting a platform by a long shot because the game slowed down to a sloth’s pace. The sound in Shadow the Hedgehog isn’t anything impressive either. The voiceovers are decent, but lack in dramatic flare of any kind. The action and fighting sounds are quite boring, and are often drown out by the NPC’s babbling.

Shadow the Hedgehog was a unique attempt at taking a different approach to the Sonic series classic happy go-lucky feel. This is fine by me, but it can’t be done by just adding guns, some shady characters, and a bad attitude. Having multiple endings and different paths to choose was a good idea, however, I’d rather watch paint dry, then try and go through the pain of getting to those endings. I personally would like to see them give a try at Shadow the Hedgehog 2, and fix the mistakes (as there are many of them) that they made in this one. If you really want to play some Sonic this Christmas, I’d point you in the direction of Sonic Rush; unless you have an extreme infatuation with Shadow (or just want to have a chuckle at a game), I’d recommend turning another way.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 4
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 3
Replay Value/Game Length: 4
Final: 4.4
Written by Matt Evangelista Review Guide

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