Back in the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the Sega Genesis, there were two rivaling platformers both who had their own unique following. There were the Mario guys and the Sonic guys, and very rarely did the two mix. Now ten to fifteen years later, that rivalry is all but a distant memory, and new platformers are taking the realms. Sure the two old school platformers are still trying their best to get back in the game, but neither have had an overwhelming amount of success. So today are going to check out Sega’s attempt to rejuvenate the Sonic series by going to a darker look. The game is not starring Sonic the Hedgehog, but is instead titled Shadow the Hedgehog, and it is now available for the PS2. So can this darker more action oriented version of Sonic fair well against the new competition? Read our full review to find out!
Right away, when Sega announced they were developing this game, I among many others jumped up and say "what is the world coming to". I still cherish the many great memories that the small blue hedgehog has blessed me with over the years, and to see him go to the dark side was just a sad day for all gamers. Sure Shadow the Hedgehog is not actually starring Sonic, but just to see Sega resort to this level was a very tough thing to handle. But alas Shadow has made his way, and as time progressed the idea seemed like one that had the potential to work. So could the great ideas of Shadow the Hedgehog on paper turn out to great things in the game?
So for those of you who haven’t been introduced to Shadow, he is basically the rival to Sonic. The two are always bashing heads, and Shadow has made his way into some of the more recent Sonic adventures. The game’s story is all about choices, and similar to the popular Fable game for the Xbox, you must choose between good and evil. So at any mission throughout this game, you will be able to choose which side to go on. This idea is a commonly used one, but unfortunately the tale of Shadow the Hedgehog is paper thin. Therefore you really won’t care what side you go on, which is a bad missed opportunity right out of the gate.
Let’s talk about the gameplay, which is what was a major concern for all Sonic fans going into this game. Like most of you already know, Shadow can be easily equipped with his fair share of firearms. The initial problem here is that we are not used to having a hedgehog with guns, but after that initial factor the game doesn’t help things much by making using the weapons much too difficult. I literally hated using the guns throughout the game, because of how darn difficult it was to hit a target. In fact for the most part, you were better off spinning in circles and shooting then actually trying to aim and shoot your target. The developers would have been better off going with some sort of lock-on system to make this an easier portion of the game to manage.
Similar to Sonic, Shadow is also full of running, but this is another huge issue that Sega should have addressed before letting this game go out onto store shelves. Shadow does have a lot of speed throughout the game, but the camera angle in the game and even the controls only succeeded in hampering that sense of speed. It was just really sad to see things become so frustrating in this 3D world, and it just goes to show you that Sega has yet to find a way to bring this great sense of speed to the 3D realm.
In the end Shadow the Hedgehog is just not a very well made game in terms of the gameplay. The game flows at very uneven paces, and the overall feel of the game just is full of major issues that needed addressing. I was skeptical going into this game but unfortunately the gameplay just confirmed what I feared. Shadow the Hedgehog, in terms of the gameplay, just really never managed to do anything overly right.
The one thing that Shadow the Hedgehog really didn’t do all that bad in was the visual category, which would have faired much better had the camera been half decent. To start out with, Shadow himself is actually extremely well created with just a huge amount of detail and color. Unfortunately you can see the much too heavy favoritism on his character, and the rest of the characters in the game didn’t fair near as well. The environments were good, with a good amount of detail and variety was not bad either. But like I mentioned, the camera angles became so bad that it not only bogged down the gameplay but also the visual quality as well.
I have always been a huge Sonic fan, and sure I wasn’t huge on bringing Shadow into the gaming world. However I went into this review with a very open mind and unfortunately I saw a game that confirmed my fears. The developers seem to have breezed through the development process, and thus we were left with a game that needed a lot more time and care to make it a great game. There were too many problems that should have been fixed well before release. The story could have used some work as well, and all of these things could have been improved to make a much more enjoyable experience.
I don’t usually give many game’s scores at this level, but when you are dealing with such a high profile series like Sonic, you really need to come out at the top of your game. Unfortunately the first outing for Shadow the Hedgehog was not as successful as I would have hoped, and we were left with a game that I would say everyone is better off just passing up.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.