Genre: 3D Action/Adventure
Developer: Sonic Team
Release Date: November 2005
The day Sega gave a hedgehog a Desert Eagle was the day the world went crazy.
Even if Shadow was a supposed “evil anti-hero” version of Sega’s mascot, giving him a gun, not to mention featuring pictures and videos of him displaying one prominently, was a move on the company’s part that’s been given many words. “Bold,” “gutsy,” “crazy,” “nuts” and “blasphemy” have been just a few of them.
A lot of people, a lot of Sonic fans, fear and loathe this game, and have already written this off as not a “true” part of the Sonic legacy. However, as suspected, the initial backlash to this game’s announcement was overreaction at best.
Folks, I’ve seen Shadow for myself, controlled it with my own two hands—and in all frank honesty, it’s time to ditch the fear. We’re looking at some major potential here. On the whole, it may even be more interesting than Sonic Heroes was. You could take an entire given team from that game, and their powers combined still wouldn’t measure up to what Shadow can do in his self-titled game.
Just to let you know that I’m not kidding, I’ll make a list, and you can see what kind of overkill this is. As I played, Shadow stuck to and ran along vertical walls (without having to get a running start beforehand), did martial arts, fired laser pistols and machine guns, swung swords and lightsabers, did midair stabs with the aforementioned weapons, and froze time to get the drop on his enemies. He retains his original, Sonic-style moves, of course—the Spin Dash, Light Dash, and Homing Attack are all present—but they are now reduced to part of a larger whole. You can, for the most part, play Shadow the “old-fashioned way”, as it were, but it would take a lot longer, and it would be nowhere near as fun.
The punchline is that everything listed up there still isn’t the full extent of Shadow’s reported repertoire of moves.
Shadow the Hedgehog, in concept, is the Goldeneye: Rogue Agent of the Sonic universe—to make progress, you’re going to have to ditch fair play, and think partly like a villain—like a ruthless bot-busting, monster-slashing killing machine. Eggman’s got nothing on this dark hedgehog, though in this game, you see that he’d like to think so.
One level sent me (as Shadow, of course) plummeting down from the skies, dodging huge laser beams the entire time, until I touched down on the apocalyptic ruins of a city.
After fighting off a few robots, who should I encounter but Sonic himself, offering his help! It appears that Big Blue may be either friend or foe—he plays dual roles both in gameplay and in the game’s trailer.
In another level, I navigated and infiltrated an air battalion modeled after the massive Egg Fleet from Sonic Heroes, destroying the masses of robots which charged towards me with any weapons that I could find, even the ones taken from fallen foes. Aside from discovering the joys of lightsaber attacks, I commandeered cannons to shoot down passing battleships as well, along with the large shells that they fired with me. The results were explosive. Eventually, I earned an audience with Eggman himself, opening up yet another one of the stage’s sub-missions. The ones you complete influence the path that Shadow takes down the paths of good and evil.
Finally, I faced down a giant, bulbous monster in a closed arena, which took on the form of a gigantic city block that took even the super-fast Shadow a good half-minute to completely circle around. It was easy to find the boss’s pattern, and to dispatch his respawning help in the process, but laying waste to the destructible environment revealed hidden power-ups. One of these was a pistol, which I happily took. I then went back to the boss and proceeded to open up on him using the gun’s auto-aiming systems. Scared, the boss tried to run—I pursued with Shadow’s superior speed, repositioned myself, and continued to fire. Eventually, I got tired of even this cat-and-mouse chase, so I activated Chaos Control, froze the world, in its tracks and finished him off.
The name of this game, my friends, is power, and Shadow’s got a lot of it. It looks like he’ll need all of it to unravel the mystery that is his past and is his life. The best part is that now, I can truthfully say that I cannot wait to attempt to do so.
You should be psyched too.
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