If you thought the
love child of Suda 51 (No More Heroes) and Shinji Mikami (Resident
Evil) would be totally F**KED UP, than you would be correct. Their
latest title, Shadows of the Damned is one of the weirdest, clichéd
and addictively annoying games that I have played all year. Damn you
51 and damn you Mikami to hell!!! :)
Using elements of
the survival genre, Shadows of the Damned is a third person action
game that has the player controlling Garcia Hotspur, a demon hunter
whose girlfriend Paula has been kidnapped by a demon lord who he
pissed off. Unfortunately
you annoyed this demon just one too many times and in order to
prevent this demon from doing the unthinkable to Paula, Garcia has
followed him into hell with his trusty shape shifting demon gun
called Johnson or is that boner?
That pretty much
sums up the story behind Shadows of the Damned and just Duke Nukem,
Garcia is quite the obnoxious character but he has this amazing
charm to him. From his crass one-liners and amusing tales, Garcia is
a Mexican demon hunter who never believes he has bitten off more
than he can chew. Thankfully for Garcia, he is not alone in hell and
has his friend Johnson the gun is there to tag along who not only acts as a guide for
Garcia but can also change into a variety of different weapons.
The dialogue between
these two characters is as clichéd as they come and for the majority
of the time, it's quite bad... and I really mean this. Some of their
banter had me cringing but also brought a big fat smile to my mouth.
Without these two obnoxious and witty characters, Shadows of the
Damned would have been a rather boring title. I will probably never
forget the words demon pubes ever again!
The gameplay in
the title is quite linear however and for the most part, you will be
confined in certain areas. If you do happen to die which you might
do a lot on higher difficulty levels, there are plenty of check
points to start again, although sometimes you do need to backtrack a
little. Most levels require you do perform a set number of functions
such as getting from A to B or chasing some phantom that looks like
Paula. Upon the way, you will encounter a variety of demons to kill,
including bosses, collect "demon" currency, purchase wine for health
and upgrade your weapons via red diamonds.
The control system
works well on the PS3 controller but sometimes you will be inundated
with demons that will make you jump, especially when they grab you.
To dispatch demons, you generally use your gun and some enemies require
you to bring them to the light by shooting them with your light gun
or torch. Certain areas are covered in darkness that not only make
you sick but also make the demons un-killable so there is a trick
here to defeat them. There are also a variety
of puzzles in the game and as Garcia says "I hate puzzles", these
can range from easy to tricky. In terms of the environment, hell
looks like something from Victorian England merged with New Orleans and on occasion, there
are objects that can be found to better your inventory.
generally a little lacklustre at the start but as you progress,
these enemies change and do become more tricky but thankfully your
morphing gun will assist in smashing them asunder as you rotate
between your weapons from pistols to machine guns. I also like how
the game has this auto-aim system so if you aim for the head, you
can blow their heads off or for something even more entertaining, shoot them in the
leg and they will crawl towards you. Sadistic yes... entertaining...
Graphics & Audio
of the Damned looks a little dated on the PlayStation 3 that includes the gameplay itself. The animations are a little clunky at
the best of times as is the texture details employed into the game.
There are however some interesting special effects in the game such
as shooting goats heads to light up the way or those evil looking
babies that sometime adorn the gates of hell. Add in some decent
lighting and overall, Shadows of the Damned comes together rather
well, albeit dated. I really digged some of the unnatural movements
of the demons... creepy! Sometimes the camera
angle gets in way with the gameplay that may lead to you dying on
occasion which is quite annoying.
Voice acting is way over the top and not just for the main
characters. Music, sound effects and the ambient sound (scary baby
cries) compliments the gameplay without it being overtly annoying
and certain parts in the game do make use of your surround sound
system, especially when your looking for a goat's head to turn on or
if a demon has run away with one. In terms of the soundtrack, this game has this awesome Mexican
fuelled hard rock track that also combines with orchestral tunes in order
to really scratch your soul.
Even though Shadows
of the Damned is relatively short game (10+ hours), it's actually
quite satisfying and even when you died more than a dozen times, you
just want to continue playing because every chapter that you play
offers something uniquely different, whether through its demon
fights, puzzles or power-ups. Unfortunately because the game is so
linear, there is little incentive to play it again, even with the
witty banter between Garcia and Johnson which is much like similar
games of this genre such as Bayonetta but even so,
Shadows of the Damned is one hell of a ride that you'll enjoy from
start to finish. It's violent, it's clichéd, it's bloody
entertaining but ultimately doesn't add anything new to this genre.