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Developer:
Sega
Publisher: Sega
Platform: PS2, Xbox, GC
Release Date: November 15, 2005

by Josh Ferguson




Shadow the Hedgehog follows, well... Shadow the Hedgehog, as he travels on a quest to discover his true identity. It seems that Shadow now suffers from amnesia and has no memory of his past. If that wasn't enough, a war is taking place between humans, aliens, and none other than Dr. Eggman. Of course, with no memory, this means Shadow has no way of telling friend from foe or whether he is good or bad. These choices will all be made by the individual who will be playing as Shadow!


The game opens with a cinema of Shadow watching Westopolis being invaded by the aliens known as the Black Arms. Suddenly the leader of the aliens, known as Black Doom, appears before Shadow, commanding him to acquire the ever famous Chaos Emeralds. While Shadow would prefer not to get involved, it seems that Black Doom has some sort of familiarity with Shadow and his past. In an attempt to develop some sort of memory, Shadow decides to work alongside Black Doom.


Of course, Shadow doesn't actually have to work alongside Black Doom. Like I said earlier, the player will be able to choose the path that Shadow takes. For the most part, many of the missions feature the choices of taking the dark path, hero path, or the normal path. Each of these missions features one objective that, upon completion, will result in you receiving the path that objective is linked to. For example, the dark path might request that you defeat a certain number of human soldiers, but the hero path may ask you to save the humans and defeat the aliens. However, there are some missions that are a little more difficult to decipher which choices will lead to which path. If you need a little help, there is always the option of pressing the pause button which will show your objectives.


Along the course of the game, the choices you make will also have some effect on the actual storyline. In fact, the certain choices you make along the line will determine which levels that Shadow participates in. For example, if Shadow takes the path of darkness, then many of the levels will be very different from, say, the ones along the hero path. The path you take can also have an effect on the characters you meet along your mission and the final boss.


The idea that the player is able to determine most of the storyline throughout Shadow the Hedgehog was one of the key things that interested me in the game. However, no matter what path you choose, it seems that both your enemies and allies will attack you throughout levels. This seems a little odd to me. Like I said, if you choose to take the dark path, it is still very common that the aliens will attack you, and the same goes for the hero path. It seems to me that if you are working alongside them, especially the aliens, wouldn't they not want to attack you? Personally, I thought the creators could have done something like that, which would have made the game seem a little more, well, realistic.


Aside from the story, certain choices made along the way have an effect on Shadow's abilities. At the top of the screen Shadow has two bars, one to the left which contains his dark ability and one to the right that contains his hero ability. In order to use one of these abilities, Shadow must first fill the bar by performing either good or bad actions. For example, killing some aliens will increase Shadow's hero bar, while killing humans will increase his dark bar. The dark ability that Shadow can use is known as the Chaos Blast, which is a large explosion attack that will severely injure any surrounding enemies. Shadow's hero attack, Chaos Control, causes him to quickly travel through portions of the level while destroying many enemies along the way. Both of these attacks can be used several times, as long as Shadow still has a portion of the bars filled.


While I'm sure you are well aware by now, Shadow is able to wield guns in this adventure. Many of these guns can be found by either defeating enemies carrying guns or by breaking open boxes containing them. There are also a few different types of guns that Shadow can use, many of which "can" make it much easier to dispose of your enemies. Notice the emphasis on the word, "can". For the most part, many of the weapons can be extremely difficult to aim at their targets. There are certain instances when you could swear that you should hit your target but instead you will be completely off. You are also able to strafe back and forth while shooting, but this really doesn't make it any easier to hit a target. All of this might even lead many gamers to not even want to use the guns, and just go along with using Shadow's homing attack, which involves him jumping in the air and launching toward an enemy. This is probably the most useful attack, but at times it can be also very difficult to use due to many problems with the camera.


Like I said, Shadow the Hedgehog features some major problems with the camera. While it is possible to move the camera using the right analog stick, this doesn't always solve the problem. In fact, it sometimes causes even more problems. For most of the game it seemed like I was having some sort of problem with the camera becoming stuck or just not even moving at all. Honestly, this is probably the most difficulty I've had with a game's camera in a long time. In fact, I don't even recall the last time I had this much trouble with a camera. Chances are the game wouldn't have been so bad if it had other camera angles, such as the ones in the Prince of Persia series, where the player is able to rotate the camera to a landscape view, a first person view, and so on.


One of my biggest problems with the game is the way that Shadow would move around levels. Of course, everyone knows that characters in the Sonic series are supposed to be very quick, but Shadow seems almost too quick, and is almost incapable of actually walking. Instead, Shadow sprints around the entire map, making it at times very difficult to control. If that weren't enough, the map is normally filled with different obstacles such as enemies and some platforming, causing Shadow to either, well, die or to lose some of his rings. And considering that it is pretty freakin' difficult to slow Shadow down, this of course leads to several problems.


As far as graphics, Shadow the Hedgehog looks okay, but isn't anything amazing. Most of the character models look as if they were taken directly from one of the previous Sonic games, rather than anything new. Much of the environments, including buildings, fires, pools of poisonous water, trees, and other areas, aren't exactly anything special, but most of the levels are at least fairly large. However, most of the cinemas are well done and as far as graphics, are one of the high points.


The sound is another area that isn't exactly done very well either. Much of the voice acting, especially Shadow, seems very emotionless and somewhat dull, but there is some occasional background music that is fairly well done and fits the whole feel of the game well. The sounds made by Shadow's weapons and the explosions aren't exactly anything noteworthy either.


While Shadow the Hedgehog does feature several paths to choose from, a single play through shouldn't take very long. Chances are in as little as four hours, most players could finish a play through. On the plus side, since the game features several different paths that Shadow can take, the game features quite a bit of replay value. The game also contains a little multiplayer action, where two players fight against each other using some weapons found throughout the game. On the downside, the multiplayer only features a couple of maps and isn't exactly fun enough to keep you wanting to continue after one battle.


Overall, the ability to choose your own destiny in Shadow the Hedgehog is cool, but much of that is overshadowed by the problems with the camera, controls, targeting, and so on. While hardcore fans of the series might be able to overlook some of these problems, it will more than likely will be difficult for anyone else to find much value in this problem-filled game.


Final Grade: 52%




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