Shadows of the Damned review
Dead Silent Evil 7
You know, I've always wondered what would happen if you lock Goichi Suda and Shinji Mikami in a room together, and for kicks, add in Akira Yamaoka because that dude always composes some kickass soundtracks. I got my wish and it's called Shadows Of The Damned. It's basically Dead Space, but with a horror setting and funny moments. It also does everything in its power to deliver heaps of style to make up for a lack of substance... that's not to say that there's no substance, but compared to Dead Space, it's a bit lacking. Having said that, it still kicks ass.
You play as Garcia *bleep*ing Hotspur, and the aim of the game is to rescue his girlfriend, Paula, from the clutches of the evil Flemming. Unfortunately, he must go through the underworld in order to find her, but thankfully, his gun is also a former demon that knows his way through the underworld. Oh, and he also knows a bunch of sex jokes... in face, his NAME is a sex joke... But where games like Ar Tonelico Qoga and Bulletstorm fail, Shadows Of The Damned succeeds. Each joke is delivered with great timing and is able to make you laugh quite a bit.
Part of that charm actually comes from the voice acting, which sounds so over the top that it's hilarious! I mean, Garcia is pretty much that Mexican guy that spouts the badass one liners, while Johnson, the gun, is that awkward British guy that spouts jokes... so I guess he's meant to be Austin Powers. As for everyone else, well, they don't really compare. They're just sort of... there. Then again, they only appear for the few scenes and then either bugger off or die.
So yeah, the game works like Resident Evil 4, in that you'll be blowing undead heads off while sometimes solving puzzles. The difference is that you can move and shoot, which is something Resident Evil 4 (and 5 especially – come on, Dead Space came out before Resi Evil 5 for *bleep*s sake) should've allowed you to do. There actually isn't much to it, but when it's as entertaining as this, who really cares? I mean holy shit, you shoot them in the head and blood spews out everywhere! Shoot their legs off and then jump on them – oh man, there's even more blood! It seemed like something that would get old pretty quickly, but not really. Maybe it's the fact that this game is only 6 hours long, maybe it's the fact that your weapons upgrade as you go further through the game, or maybe I just love some stylish over the top stuff – not even the best therapists can figure this out.
The bosses were pretty lackluster, though. They seem like bosses, in that they have patterns you need to memorize and that they can take a lot of abuse, but the patterns are mostly really simple and the bosses have too much HP, especially the later ones. It's not so much a test of your skills as much as it is a test of your patience, especially on the harder difficulty settings. They're not horrible, but not exactly exciting, either. Well, I guess one boss comes close by being able to kick your ass if you aren't on your toes, but coming close isn't enough in this day and age.
But that's not the biggest issue – nope, that honor goes to the “variety” this game provides. Granted, you should come to expect puzzles from mr Resident Evil himself, but you can tell he's really running out of ideas here. Most of the puzzles revolve around finding a key to enter a door, but this key is either a strawberry (get it? The devil's fruit?), an eyeball or a brain. Either that, or you go in extreme darkness and have to either shoot a goat's head with a light shot, or shoot down these red cores so you can open a door. The puzzles don't take up much more than a fifth of the game's overall content, so it could've been a lot worse, but still, that doesn't stop them from being lame scavenger hunts (which aren't even so – they're either on the beaten path or maybe a little further along). That's not to mention the sidescrolling shoot em up segments, which... just no.
The graphics are pretty hit and miss. On one end, it feels like the Unreal Engine really doesn't like the PS3 – from long load times to texture pop up and even some lag here and there, it's clear that people still haven't been able to figure out how to use the Unreal Engine on the PS3 to their best advantage. It sucks, because 360/PC games use it very, very well! On the other end, the designs work very well with what you'd expect – bizarre demons, cool looking Mexican guy, and some pretty sick color usage really makes up for the fact that the Unreal Engine sucks on the PS3.
Then you have the soundtrack, which... just oh my god, Akira my man, you've really outdone yourself here. A mix of beautiful, intense and haunting tracks really jump out at you, giving the game even more life. Each scene is given a lot of oomph due to the choice of tracks played during them, and like with any of his soundtracks, I wouldn't mind playing this on my computer – it's pretty sick.
You'll spend most of your time shooting enemies down, and that's great, because any attempt at variety is about as half assed as it gets. The puzzles, more often than not, are criminally easy and short, and those shoot em up segments just plain suck. The bosses were also pretty mediocre.
If you've played Dead Space, the controls will feel familiar as you can aim and move, but never shoot without being in aim mode.
There isn't much of a story, per se, but the scenes are pretty entertaining regardless.
The designs are pretty cool, which makes up for the otherwise mediocre graphics and sometimes poor lagging.
The voice acting is good in that so bad it's good kind of way – at least for the main characters, anyway. Not so much for the extras. As for the soundtrack, it manages to create quite an atmosphere.
That score only applies to trophy collectors – all you can really do after finishing is play on an unlockable much *bleep*ing harder difficulty and.. that's about it. The game only lasts about 6 hours anyway.
Shooting enemies' heads off and seeing gallons upon gallons of blood spew out is just awesome. The puzzles and shoot em up segments feel tedious, like it was put in because variety for the sake of variety is good game design apparently.
Shadows Of The Damned is a good game, but only because there's more of the good stuff than of the bad stuff. Combat may be great, but in terms of everything else, it just falls flat on its face. Although the scenes are pretty entertaining, especially if you're into B-movies. That's the thing with this game – despite mediocre bosses and crap puzzles, it's still a game I would recommend without any doubts because it's entertaining for the most part, and that's what's important – entertainment! *bleep* this trend where everything is cinematic and/or artsy; I want some entertainment, goddammit!
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