Shadow the Hedgehog PlayStation 2
Published by SEGA
Developed by Sonic Team
Release Date: Out Now
Shadow the Hedgehog, an introduction.
After spending years in Sonic's shadow (bad choice of words), Shadow the Hedgehog finally gets his own game. Whilst many gamers have wanted Shadow the Hedgehog in his own game for a while, I'm sure they wouldn't have know exactly what to expect from a Shadow the Hedgehog title. Surprisingly the overall experience isn't that far removed from your typical 3D Sonic game. However several issues prevent the game from being enjoyable or indeed as good as most of the Sonic games we've seen.
What's the game about?
The game begins with Shadow trying desperately to remember his past. He's got no idea of what's going on, who he is (apart from the fact he remembers his name is Shadow) and what he needs to do. Whilst in thought ,an evil character, Black Doom, appears before him and tells him he must collect the 7 Chaos Emeralds as the day of reckoning is approaching. With no other plan of action to take Shadow decides to do just that (he also thinks it will lead to him finding out about his past) and so our adventure begins. With a war being waged between Dr. Eggman and the G.U.N Army though, it's not going to be an easy task.
What's good about the game?
Those Sonic the Hedgehog fans that have waited to plays as Shadow will probably be thrilled to finally see him in his own adventure. So you'll play as Shadow the Hedgehog this time around but what else is different about the game? Well you'll get to use guns to take out your enemies as well as use Chaos Control and Chaos Blast special powers. The game has 22 levels that contain many objectives and it's going to take a while to complete them all. The game has multiple endings which means the replay value is a lot better than in most of the Sonic games to date. You can also choose to be good or bad. Do you want to kill the humans or would you rather kill the aliens and help the humans? It's all up to you.
What's not so good about the game?
The game has what can only be described as a poor frame rate. In some games a poor frame rate is simply annoying; in a game such as Shadow the Hedgehog it ruins the whole experience. For a game where the sense of speed is a major ingredient, the last thing you want is a game where the frame rate not only takes regular dives but never really gets up to what you'd expect from a Sonic the Hedgehog spin-off. The camera angles can be really annoying at times too and whilst you can manipulate the camera with the right analogue stick this isn't the kind of game you want to have to do such a thing. Whilst having the ability to use guns is something new, they are practically useless. There's no enemy lock-on feature which means you'll have to stop to point Shadow in the direction of his enemies. Not such a bad thing you might say but it's easier to take the enemies out using other attacks and by doing this you won't have to worry about lack of ammo. It's also disappointing that much of the game is no different from the 3D Sonic games. You'll collect rings, emeralds and zip around all over the place etc. It's definitely not the unique experience you might expect it to be. The included 2 player battle mode doesn't feel satisfactory either.
How does it look?
The graphics don't look too bad, although they could look better, and are pretty much on a par with the Sonic games that have appeared on this generation of consoles. In general the textures are quite poor and should have been much better. The characters models are nothing special and again probably could have been better. The game supports 60Hz mode, which in this case isn't much of a bonus given that the frame rate is so poor. As we mentioned above the camera angles can be quite annoying and it's a shame more care wasn't taken to make sure the camera didn't float out of alignment with Shadow.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
The cutscenes are subtitled by default so you'll be able to follow the game's story. Tutorial messages and main pieces of dialogue are shown in text during the main game but there are items of speech that are not subtitled but thankfully these are non-essential. The subtitles use a bold white font that is fine most of the time but you'll come across the odd occasion where the visibility is not great and the text should have really been placed on a darkened overlay. Any objectives can be recalled by pressing the start button which is useful as you'll have multiple objectives most of the time.
Having really enjoyed many of the Sonic games I've played over the years, I was looking forward to Shadow the Hedgehog and hoped for a quality experience. Essentially though, Shadow the Hedgehog is very disappointing and just doesn't feel right. The poor frame rate and the dodgy camera control are the two main disappointments and then when you factor in the lack of an enemy lock-on feature, which makes using the weapons a pointless exercise, it's fair to say the game isn't as good as it could have been. It's great to see so many multiple endings though (around 10 in all) and had the game been everything it should have been it would have increased the replay value no end.
Overall Game Rating: 5.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
(Click the letter or here for details)
Whichever way you look at it, Shadow the Hedgehog is a real disappointment. Poor frame rate, poor camera angles and no enemy lock-on feature (when using a gun) make the game far less appealing than it should have been.