Released to a mass of speculation and predestined hate, Shadow the Hedgehog hasn’t enjoyed a very good release. The release of Sonic Heroes last year was enough to put many a Sonic fanboy off the series – and with good reason. What most of those people don’t realize is – this isn’t a Sonic the Hedgehog game; it’s a spin off which they should judge on it’s own merits. So, on with the review.
One part of the Sonic universe that’s made it on board Shadow – a basic storyline. But at least its original this time. The game takes place a few months after Sonic Adventure 2. Shadow the hedgehog is seen alive and well after falling from space, only he’s lost his memory. Again. Unfortunately, aliens are invading. Now he’s got to rely on his instincts (And the player) to guide him through the story. This is where things get a bit special: There is no defined path to follow. Depending on how you play, Shadow will end up siding with earth’s army to fight off the aliens, or join the aliens to conquer the planet. Or, he can choose to let them kill each other, and remain neutral. This is an original idea for the Sonic series, and one that works well.
The graphics are very good actually. They’ve managed to get a fair amount of realism in here, while still retaining the cartoonish looks of the previous Sonic games. The enemies are well done, as are the levels. One thing that stands out however, are the GUN soldiers. They look like they’ve been stolen right out of a Dreamcast game.
The music is done quite well; better than usual. The screaming guitars from Sonic Adventure still rear they’re ugly heads every now and then, but for the most part the music is suitably dark, while not going overboard. An interesting thing; There’s actually 5 different end songs (Which have always been the high point in a Sonic soundtrack – the big final boss music). The song you get depends on how you’ve played. Of course, the music isn’t the only thing that changes depending on how you play, indeed – the final few levels are like entirely different games according to what you did on the early stages.
Now for the most important feature; how does it play? Very well. Insanely fun game-play. The high speed bits from Sonic Adventure 2 – they’re here. Only faster. And of course, the biggest addition to the game – Guns. This is the thing that’s been annoying the fanboys all this time, but I really do have to point out: guns are NOT required. They make the game more fun, and a few of the end levels are damn near impossible to complete without them, but if you really want to go ‘Old school’, the guns can be put away. Anyway, the guns don’t get in the way of the high speed action. It’s entirely possible to run through a mass of enemies and gun them down on the way. Short answer: The guns work.
Now, replay value? Quite a bit actually. According to the game theatre, the Pure Hero ending is listed as “1”, and the Pure Evil ending is listed as “326”. This means there are 326 possible ways to play through the game. And let’s not forget about the Chaos Emeralds! While each playthrough may not take very long, there’s 326 of them to be done before you can call ‘complete’ on them. And the game itself is very Pick-up-and-play-able. Overall, I’d give it an 8/10. A vast improvement over previous Sonic games, and starring a much more interesting lead character. Rent or Buy – Rent it. Then love it. Then buy it.