What is Heaven? For that matter what is Hell? For years people have been looking to theologians for the answers to these deceptively deep questions, when in fact the answers lurked all the time within the dark recesses of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. Well, maybe not, but few could argue against Spawn’s profound effect on the way comic books are looked at and appreciated by mainstream media. Now Namco has brought Spawn to the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube with Spawn: Armageddon. Unfortunately this game feels significantly less inspired than the comic book from which it is inspired.
Playing the tragic hero as always, Spawn lives his afterlife as the unwilling tool of Hell, and its master Malebolgia. Elsewhere, Angels have begun experiments with a substance known as Necroplasm. These experiments have led to the possibility of developing a weapon capable of punching through the interdiminsional planes and destroying Hell once and for all. This weapon is now very close to a reality, and the Angels are looking to this creation as a way to crushing their opposition with a single blow without facing the upcoming war known as Armageddon. The weapon has been test fired already, which has resulted in a dimensional hole being opened to Hell. This has allowed the various denizens of Hell have begun spilling out into the streets of New York City, the weapon’s unfortunate target. Now the Angels need just one more source of Necroplasm to power their next and final shot to destroy Hell. The Angels have fixed their eyes squarely on our very own Spawn, who as hellspawn has more Necroplasm than any other creature on Earth. This, of course much to his chagrin, means he will once again be swept up as a pawn in the eternal struggle involving powers much greater than him. This time, however, his own decisions will either cause or avert the end of the world.
Spawn: Armageddon is a 3d action/adventure title set in the disturbing, yet hauntingly familiar world of the Spawn comic book. The game is set across 30 levels and seven different environments. However, all of this can be traversed in just a few hours, and much of that is forgettable. The environments are bland and uninteresting, and this is mirrored by equally lackluster gameplay. This is not to say Spawn: Armageddon is bad, per se. It just isn’t very good either. This game exemplifies average in an industry where average is possibly the worst label with which to be saddled.
Despite being fundamentally boring, the gameplay exhibited in Spawn’s latest videogame outing is a definite step in the right direction when compared to past titles to bear the Spawn name. It bears more than a passing resemblance to Devil May Cry, as both are centered on seemingly endless combat. However, while Capcom’s action opus featured a deep and interesting fighting mechanic, Spawn’s combat feels tired, slow, and dull. When the primary aspect of any game fails to impress, the entire experience is dragged down. That is Spawn: Armageddon‘s primary flaw.
Spawn begins his adventure with the ability to attack with his axe and chains, as well as the ability to fire supernatural energy at his opponents. As the game progresses new attacks and weapons are made available to help Spawn take on the swarms of enemies out to make this his last adventure. Spawn also has several other abilities to help him, including wall-jumping and gliding through the air with his trademark tattered cape. These moves are all very easy to execute, allowing players to focus on combat and adventuring without having to worry about whether or not a particular maneuver will work.
This is not to say players will have to focus much thought on defeating Spawn’s many enemies. Save for a couple of the game’s bosses, much of the A.I exhibited by the game’s opponents is rudimentary at best. Additionally, despite the numerous types of attacks and weapons available in this game, most of the fighting can be accomplished with pressing the attack button over and over again. Thankfully the bosses do present much more of a challenge, and these encounters inject a much-needed booster shot of fun, excitement, and challenge.
For a game that draws inspiration from such an artistically sound comic book, Spawn: Armageddon is decidedly bland in most of its presentation. While the CG sequences are pleasing, and some of the character models (Spawn in particular) are well done, the environments are all incredibly dull. There are also a host of camera issues that render many scenes in the game a chore to play through. Thankfully, as mediocre as the visuals are in this game, the sounds are all very well done. The GameCube and PS2 versions of Spawn: Armageddon support Dolby Pro Logic II, and the Xbox version takes full advantage of Dolby Digital surround sound. The voice acting (what little there is of it) is also top-notch. The music here is very much heavy metal inspired, including a track by Marilyn Manson entitled A