Action. Exploration. Entertainment. These are the words that best describe Shifters, a unique action-oriented adventure game from 3DO. The name Shifters comes from the game’s main character, who has the ability to transform into 24 different creatures. In human form, you can cast a few spells and perform a couple weapon attacks (the attacks change depending on the type of weapon you’re using). But as one of the ferocious creatures, you can attack faster and stronger, cast a variety of spells, some of which are exclusive to the non-human forms that your character takes. The evolution process is done in such a way that it’s impossible to play as each and every creature the first time through. This encourages you to play through it again, but you’d want to anyway.
Shifters’ combat system is similar to The Legend of Zelda. You can lock onto your opponents by pressing the R2 button, and then walk around without losing sight of them. This makes it easy to run in, block with your shield (if necessary) and then unleash a slice-n-dice combo that’ll turn your adversary into a corpse. You don’t have to lock-on though, so if you’d prefer to cut-n-run, that’s fine too. Unlike Zelda, Shifters’ camera can be "shifted" in all directions. To re-center your view, simply press R2 or R3 (the button inside the right stick).
There’s a lot of eye candy to eat in Shifters. Gamers will be pleased when they see this game in action. From the detailed backgrounds, to the nice-looking characters, Shifters is by far one of the most graphically impressive hack-n-slashers out there. I especially liked the water effects. Depending on the depth of the water, you will make a large or small splash that creates a cool ripple effect. Non-repetitive smoke patterns form from the fire, and the real-time lighting/shadow effects are realistic.
Once you start shifting, you won’t want to stop. Shifters is the most unique game ever released in the action / hack-n-slash genre. The basic combat is terrific, as are the more complex elements.
Most of the levels are connected in some way and can be accessed from multiple entry points. These connected levels essentially make up one giant level. Portions of this giant level are sectioned off -- once you leave, you can’t return. But for the most part you can come and go as you please.
Shifters provides a great shifting experience that can’t be found anywhere else. Not only is the game a PS2 exclusive, but all of the shape-shifting features a re exclusive to this game as well. The battles are a lot of fun. and the levels are very expansive. You won’t be able to zip through Shifters in a couple of hours, that’s for sure. When you finally beat it, you’ll want to come back for more. The gameplay is addictive from the start, and the 24 playable creatures makes it even better.