Reviews: Shadow The Hedgehog
An Enjoyable Game
Here is something I've noticed whenever I play a Sonic game: when fans say that a certain game sucks, I play it and find myself actually having fun. Shadow the Hedgehog is an example of that situation. Story wise, I don't care too much, although I did enjoy the loads of Sonic Adventure 2 references I saw. And I had a kick out of how the game felt like Sonic Heroes in terms of feel. Now, most fans say that the guns ruined the game. If anything, they made the game easier, though no one said you had to use them. The music is nice, the missions are usually fun, and I get a kick out of the multiple endings, my favorite one being the full Neutral path. There are a few flaws, though. For starters, the Good path Ark mission of killing all the Artificial Chaos can burn in hell, for all I care. Not to mention, I wasn't really fond of the game's main theme. And finally, I didn't like the concept of there being a true ending; ironic, considering that the best moments of the game are in the True Ending. Seriously, Never Turn Back has got to be one of the best ending themes I heard in a long time. And there you have it. A mostly positive review of Shadow The Hedgehog. Feel free to shoot me down for being reasonable. Rating: 4/5
I've played some Sonic games, but I don't consider myself a fan of the series by any means. So let's break this game down from an outsider's perspective. Plot: Here is the entirety of the story that I understood: Shadow was created in a lab to be the ultimate life-form (though since he needs rocket shoes to keep up with Sonic, is weaker than Knuckles, and can't fly like Tails I guess he's more like a rough draft) by Eggman's father - or maybe grandfather. Relative, definitely. Anyway, soldiers try to kill Shadow for reasons that were never clear to me even after two runthroughs, and a girl named Maria (also one of the Eggman-clan) dies during the escape. This was all explained to me in two cutscenes at the beginning and end of the game. Because of the choose-your-own-adventure style of the story, everything in between becomes an incoherent mess. Every level is unconnected to every other level, and they all follow the same formula: Shadow's in a new area for no reason, a good guy and a bad guy both think Shadow is their best friend and ask him to pick up their dry cleaning or whatever, Shadow allies with one or neither faction and the other acts surprised that Shadow would betray them. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to know what Shadow's personality traits are if even the other characters can't tell if he's their mortal enemy or BFF. On a slightly unrelated note, I thought that the Sonic gang lived in their own universe, but there are tons of regularly-proportioned humans running around, making the main characters feel out of place in their own game. I'm starting to see why even fans of this game don't defend the story. Gameplay: Moving Shadow feels sticky and unresponsive at the best of times. I've played through the game twice, once evil and once neutral, and I'm still not sure if guns are supposed to aim where Shadow's facing or where the camera's facing, but they hit nothing more often than not. The homing attack would often send me in front of bullets or into a pit, and the punch was useless in a game with collision damage. I tried to follow the "hero" path, but the reward for heroic actions is a super-dash that skips most of the level, which I was very thankful for, but it also skips over the tasks that the heroes wanted me to do, so it's not exactly well thought out. Sound: The song from the intro kinda kicks ass.
It's good to see I'm not alone in enjoying this.
This is everything that a Sonic game from the early/mid-2000s should be: creative and enjoyable levels (The Black Comet/Final Haunt, as in both of the levels, are really... interesting and strangely awesome), adding in optional upgrades (you don't have to use a single gun or vehicle, they're just in the game for you to pick up), less of the flaws from previous games, it's even more fast paced than the last 3 3D Sonic games (in terms of how fast you can go) and fills in plot holes from previous games. Sure, it's clearly SEGA trying to cash in on the whole "Darker and Edgier" thing... but I don't see that complaint with Sonic SATAM, do I? The only complaint I have is the voice acting, but it's only a problem if you seek to complete every mission in every level (you'll have to deal with Tails' voice... *groan*). If you just play the get-to-the-goal or Black-Doom missions, than you don't have to hear any grating voices. Once you complete all of the levels, you can replay them in the "select mode" and enjoy them without any of the voice acting or story issues. It's a good game.
So why does everyone hate this game?
Shadow The Hedgehog is my favorite Sonic game, period. Now put down the pitchforks and let me tell you why. First off, I actually didn't care too much about the story so I'm not factoring that in. Now I've heard all the complaints "he swears" "he uses guns" "Camera is stupid" "They just wanted a dark and edgy sonic game" and all I can say is..so? Ok yeah he swears and uses guns and yes, it's an attempt to cash in on darker and edgier. never had a camera problem at all so no comments there. But now that you all are done bitching about that. time to, you know, actually play the game? Let's see what we have, less hand-holding than any of the sonic games that came after, less stupidly linear levels, no shitty controls... multiplayer[ story mode's multiplayer is more of an Easter egg, yeah]but while it didn't have variety, it worked and was good for just screwing around or a few frantically fun matches. You ever play Sonic and the Secret Rings? It sucks. Werehog is better, but that's a bit like saying eating dirt is better than eating shit. People complain of them being poor quality, cheap and easy. While Shadow has it's moments[looking at you, Ark levels and the fact that you're a goddamn jungle-gym and a maze.] Guess what else it has? Very little of the flaws of it's successors. Yes it isn't the perfect game fans wanted, yes it has a cheap cash in as a selling point, but damn if it isn't a fun game.
Wait A Minute... People Actullay Hate this Game? (Please be Kind)
I can understand why someone wouldn't enjoy this game, and I admit, it's far from my favourite Sonic game, but I still love it. With the replay value, choice between good and evil, ( I was still a kid when it came out, and I was drawn in by the forbidden theme the opening promised with the violence (despite the fact that my parents had no problem with me playing it), and when the gameplay began, that theme seemed to stick. Throughout the levels, layouts and cutscenes, I felt that Sega done a excellent job portraying Shadow's dark personailty and giving him a matching backstory with the relativley sad, but breif, history that they gave us in Sonic Adventure Battle 2. I really can't tell with the other characters, but with Shadow, I think they couldn't have done a better job with his voice acting. The hushed, tough tone that the voice actor used was perfect, it was just irreplaceable. It's certainly a lot better than that silly and stupid voice they gave Shadow in Sonic Generations. He sounded like a marmot with a sore throat, for crying out loud! Now to talk about the bad side. There are plenty of cons to talk about; devilishly hard levels, fustrating missions, terrible controls,(espically with guns, vehicles, and the homing attack. How many times have I fallen to my death because of a failed homing attack?) and bad gimmicks. The difficulty spikes and bad controls are inexuseable, but the guns and vehicles themselves aren't a terrible addition. This isn't Sonic after all, it's Shadow. It's just that Sega screwed up the control scheme on it, is all. I still enjoy riding on the motorcycle, though. I think people need to keep in mind that this spinoff is exactly what it is; a spinoff. If it was exactly like a normal Sonic game, it would have failed in the game's original purpose; give Shadow his own game. Shadow is completley diffrent from Sonic in personailty, and copying and pasting Shadow's image onto a Sonic game would just be wrong.
Please don't kill me for writing this. Please?
I like the game Shadow the Hedgehog. There. I said it. Please put away the chainsaws and listen to me first, mmmmkay? It's terrible. The dialogue is poor, the FPS element is jarring, the vehicle elements completely redundant, the voice acting is bad...how can I possibly like this game? To me, this game is So Bad Its Good - all these poor elements can do nothing to dampen the enjoyment the game brings. And it is genuinely enjoyable, too - mostly due to the fact that, at times, the negatives highlights the positives. The voice acting is bad, but you can still hear that they have the potential to develop in talent. Hell, by the time Jason Griffith passed the baton onto Roger Craig Smith, he'd become a fine voice actor in his own right. The dialogue is bad, but it ends up being laughably so, making the game a lot more comical than intended. That being said, it does mean that, when the game DOES have something sad happen, then it's impact is made all the stronger - watching Shadow unquestionably obeying an order to blow up the White House, or murdering Eggman with relish is genuinely unsettling and unexpected with a game like this. It's like an unintentional form of Mood Whiplash, and it somehow works. Some say that the plot is incomprehensible/stupid. I disagree. The plot actually does a great job of explaining all the stuff that went unexplained in the previous games - how Professor Gerald went from the Biolizard to Shadow, why he made the Eclipse Cannon, whether Shadow was the "original" Shadow or an android...it actually did a great job in tying up all the loose ends, both in terms of overreaching plot continuity AND in Shadow's character development. Even as far back as Sonic Adventure 2, you hear Shadow moaning to Maria about how he doesn't know why he exists, and this is the game that finally lets him know why. Even better, now that these questions are out of the way, he can go back to being the hedgehog equivalent of The Goddamn Batman. And despite how poorly it can play, and despite how EVIL some of the levels are, some of the levels are actually quite fun to play. Being perfectly honest, taking a machine gun to a group of aliens (who have already established to be Complete Monsters) is quite fun. Also, the music is kickass. Overall, I like this game for the small things. Please don't kill me.
Would this game still be so poorly reviewed if it weren't a Sonic game?
There are certain things we've all come to expect out of Sonic The Hedgehog games, and Shadow The Hedgehog delivers...almost none of them. Yes, there are still rings to collect, and occasionally a little bit of that Sonic-style platforming, but it's largely overshadowed, no pun intended, by the TPS elements. Add in the fact that it provides A Day In The Limelight to a character that was a bit of a Base Breaker to begin with, and you've got a recipe for disaster. But what if you try to ignore the relationship to the Sonic world? Skip over those cut scenes, which are admittedly Narmful, and silence your helper character every time they try to speak. Yes, you've just removed most of the plot, but you know what? You've probably also just improved the game. Because if you take it as a generic Third Person Shooter, albeit one that slides heavily towards the fantastic side of the Sliding Scale Of Realistic Versus Fantastic, instead of as an entry into the Sonic canon, you're actually left with a surprisingly decent game. The multiple endings are interesting, though it's a bit tedious that you need to see all ten endings to unlock the true final ending, and Black Doom is a memorable villain thanks in large part to Sean Schemmel's supreme voice acting, by far the best in the game. I understand why the game got such poor reviews, but I don't agree with them, and I think that taken as a standalone game, it's actually pretty good.