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Shadow the Hedgehog (Xbox) artwork

Shadow the Hedgehog (Xbox) review


"Contrary to what most believe, Shadow the Hedgehog is an improvement, not a step back. Even before the black hedgehog’s solo debut hit the shelves, scepticism had already shown his grim face. The last proper Sonic game, Sonic Heroes was, to be frank, awful. Its quirky new design looked charming enough and its diverse range of characters was enough to make any Sonic fan drool. However, its poor level design and bad voice actors were enough to have anyone ripping huge chunks of ha..."



Contrary to what most believe, Shadow the Hedgehog is an improvement, not a step back. Even before the black hedgehog’s solo debut hit the shelves, scepticism had already shown his grim face. The last proper Sonic game, Sonic Heroes was, to be frank, awful. Its quirky new design looked charming enough and its diverse range of characters was enough to make any Sonic fan drool. However, its poor level design and bad voice actors were enough to have anyone ripping huge chunks of hair from their heads. Thankfully, Shadow isn’t as bad, although it doesn’t do itself any favours.

Granted, it may still have those annoying voice actors, the occasionally sloppy controls and the unnecessarily stretched out stages, but it still managed to outclass Sonic Heroes. Performing this task wasn’t exactly a tricky thing to do, due to the previous title’s notoriety and Shadow the Hedgehog does manage to rise out of the dung pile that Sonic Heroes turned the series into. However, it does still hold on to some rather annoying problems that most of the 3-D Sonic games have created, however, the game does certainly rise above the low expectations that Sonic Team have set themselves.

Like most of the new age Sonic games, you have to play through it a handful of times to unlock the various different endings. Sonic Team has taken a KOTOR approach to the game, offering you choices that can determine the future of Shadow, turning him into either a major super-villain, a self-reliant anti-hero or a saviour. After running into the city, which is being invaded by a horde of aliens known only as the “black creatures”, Shadow is taunted by the leader of these beasts to seek out the Chaos Emeralds and destroy the human forces that are trying to fight the invading demons. However, on the other hand, Sonic is coercing Shadow to help him drive the creatures off the face of the earth.

However, whatever mission you choose, you basically have to destroy fifty of your chosen enemies so you can proceed. Unfortunately, a lot of levels have this layout and are very large. What follows is a dull wild goose chase. If you miss an enemy at the start of the stage, you’ll have to backtrack through the entire level looking for him, which is as fun as ripping your fingernails out. Later, some missions include racing some sort of flying machine or object hunting (which is like finding those enemies, except even more frustrating.) The worst example of this is the space station known as The Doom. This monster of a level asks to either kill the enemy forces or find and heal injured workers. It’s so large that it drives you nuts trying find every single bad guy or worker. Sometimes, you can be stuck on this level for half an hour.

Damn. Half an hour! That’s the gaming equivalent of having ants fed to you through a funnel!

Thankfully, the monotony of trudging through the long and boring levels can be cast away (for a short time anyway) by the two additional features that Shadow the Hedgehog introduces. If you choose to perform a good deed, say, killing a black creature, the blue bar at the top right hand of your screen will start to fill. Filling it will allow you to use Chaos Control, one of Shadow’s special abilities. This rather annoying power sends Shadow flying across the level at supersonic speeds. Ironically, it throws you past a ton of enemies which you may need to kill. Yeah, nice one guys! You’re basically encouraging us to skip through the game and decreasing our playtime, which makes very little sense. However, doing dirty deeds will allow you to raise the red bar on the right, enabling Shadow to cause mass destruction with Chaos Blast. This move will blast anything nearby, wiping away squadrons of foes and putting a dent in any bosses armour.

Shadow’s biggest disappointment is the incorporation of guns into play. This idea was advertised to be the key element to Shadow’s gameplay. However, it feels a lot like something that Sonic Team slapped on because they felt required to. Using guns is mainly a slight addition to the game, reducing the bore of killing enemies one by one with the abilities to simply blasting them away so you raise your power bar at a faster rate. Thankfully, quite a variety of guns are available for you to use, including various alien and human types such as fancy lasers, assault rifles, rocket launchers and pistols. Completing levels and mission allows Shadow to unlock newer guns such as the Billy Hatcher inspired vacuum gun, which swallows up and spits out anything that moves. However, despite the fact that you can unlock many new guns, it still doesn’t do anything to boost it from it a minor part of the game. Not something that it relied on, which was the impression that I got when I picked the game up.

Shadow’s long levels and repetitive missions surely repress the element of freedom and speed, which were the foundations on which Sonic was built on. However, at least it didn’t go with the horribly flawed team based formation and the over-dosage of speed that Sonic Heroes was fuelled by. Shadow can be fun at times but it’s repetitive nature, disappointing endings, (which are practically identical anyway) and failed promises are enough to stop it from becoming a favoured hit. However, I have to give Sonic Team the thumbs for not making the game a complete and utter blow-out like its predecessor. It’s worth a cheap purchase if you are a fan of the Adventure series or were one of the few that enjoyed Sonic Heroes. But, if you batted for the other team and disliked them, then you’ll find very little to change your opinion in Shadow the Hedgehog.

Rating: 5/10

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Community review by goldenvortex (June 13, 2006)

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