January 28, 2002
Shadow Of Zorro - Review
Release Date Publisher Developer Players Rating Price
18/1/2002CryoIn Utero1M15+$99.95
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The duels are quite exciting.
It's somewhat strange that Zorro hasn't appeared in more video games, especially since the recent movie starring Antonio Banderas called The Mask of Zorro. As a video game there is certainly plenty of potential for sword swinging action and a great storyline. But have In Utero delivered a good title? This game has received almost no hype or buzz at all since being announced for the Playstation 2 in late 2001. Still, In Utero did develop the very impressive Evil Twin: Cyprien's Chronicles and they do know how to make the best of the Playstation 2 hardware. The storyline, while not gripping, has some potential.

In 1930 Los Angeles is alive with excitement. The new captain Fuertes is arriving this morning. As Sergeant Garcia clumsily puts his patrol through their paces, Don Alejandro, Don Diego's father, thinks he recognises a man in the crowd... this man had striking similarities to the "Butcher of Zaragoza", the infamous war criminal that Don Alejandro has fought and left for dead in the Spanish War against France. Zorro must uncover how this man has survived, and who the beautiful young lady with the sad eyes standing beside him is. As Zorro you will have to have your wits about you as you slip in and out of the shadows to unravel the mystery.

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A quick glance around the corner.
In case you haven't quite worked it out yet Shadow of Zorro is a 3D action adventure game. The developers have given the game a very gritty early 20th Century look while the enemies, as well as Zorro, carry swords or pistols as weapons. The world is populated with numerous enemies who won't hesitate to take you out at the first opportunity. Unfortunately the game isn't overly exciting, despite some solid cut scenes to flesh out the story. The enemy AI is also quite lacking and either seems way too advanced or way too simplisic.

Special mention must be made of the unique, and very impressive, combat system used in the game. For the sword based combat the developers have designed a fairly unique (for action games anway) button combo system where you must press the buttons in a sequence to inflict damage. Mess it up and the enemy will inflict damage on yourself. This is very similar to the battles in games like Space Channel 5 and PaRappa 2. As you progress through the game the sequences get tougher, making the disposal of enemies tougher. This adds an element of skill to the game and is a neat touch compared to just mashing the buttons as quickly as possible to attack the enemy as in so many other games.

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Levels are quite nice to look at.
While this game has some fun moments these are overshadowed by the overall dullness of the game. The storyline is moderately interesting, although many characters lack personality, and the action is fairly well presented but why is it that slashing a person with a sword 20 times merely renders them unconcious. Are the developers kidding? Was it a part of the Zorro license? I certainly think so as it's ridiculous to supposedly "kill" someone after an intense battle only to see them get up again a few minutes later. The other problem is Zorro's keenness to surrender when surrounded by more then a couple of enemies.

Graphically Shadow of Zorro reminds me of PC games from several years ago. The texturing is fairly clean and suits the gritty era in which the game is set. Animation on the characters is quite good with In Utero going so far as to motion capture a swordsman. The cut scenes are fairly solid and tell the story fairly well although this isn't a game that you will use to show off the system to your friends. Easily the worst aspect of this title is the horrific camera angles. At times your character will be walking behind walls, pillars or buildings and you won't have a clue what is confronting you. Worse still is the fact that at times you can't even move the cameras to a new position.

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Yet more outside exploration.
Sound-wise the best term to use for this game is "uninspiring". The music is merely average while the sound effects have little impact. You would expect a sword slahing a persons' body to have a rather meaty sound, but not in this game. The voice acting is also adequate, but you'll be thanking the gods that the writers of this dialogue weren't working for a major game like Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty or Final Fantasy X.

Sadly, Shadow of Zorro isn't what you bought your Playstation 2 for. It really is hard to comprehend how this game came out of the same studio that developed Evil Twin: Cyprien's Chronicles. This game is light years behind in almost every regard. The combat is quite impressive however, with the new combo system working extremely well. Everything else falls flat from the storyline, to the characters, and even the lack of stealthy type elements. For a game that supposedly has you trying to sneak around the shadows a lot Zorro has a strange tendancy of deciding to take on too many enemies when the odds are against him. This is yet another disappointing game that the Playstation 2 really could have done without. Only worth a rent at best.

GRAPHICSSolid enough graphics, with average lighting and adequate animation.
SOUNDAnother area where Zorro does the job, nothing more, nothing less.
GAMEPLAYIt's not an overly fun game, but the combat system works very well.
VALUEHighly unlikely that you'll be back for more, if you even finish it once.
OVERALLSadly Shadow of Zorro seems very underdeveloped with poor level structures. With more time this game could have been special, the combat is fun but everything else is just plain tiresome.

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