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July 26, 2011
Shadows of the Damned - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
23/6/2011EA GamesEA GamesGrasshopper Manufacture1None
Media HDD Space Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Shadows of the Damned - just strange...
Before we managed to even play this game there were a couple of highlights. First of all the Executive Director is Goichi Suda who created Killer 7, No More Heroes, Michigan: Report from Hell and the much respected Fatal Frame IV, and the Creative Producer is Shinji Mikami who has directed and produced the Resident Evil, Onimusha, Devil May Cry and Dino Crisis franchises, as well as titles including Vanquish, Viewtiful Joe, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Killer 7. Little wonder there was much excitement to check out this game...

When evil demonic creatures kidnap Garcia Hotspur's girlfriend, it's up to him to travel to the City of the Damned to get her back. Aided by a former demon with the ability to transform into an array of vicious weapons, Garcia will once again take on the mantel of "demon hunter" and rip apart the horrifying forces of the underworld to protect what he loves most.

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Now that's an epic weapon!
The story may not actually sound too strange or different from other games in the market, but it's presentation takes it to the extreme with some very haunting imagery - in combination with stunning audio design - and which will give you nightmares. Throughout the game you will see images of your girlfriend going through painful deaths, being dismembered, drowning and so on. The levels are dark and gloomy while the character design is among the best we've seen in a video game for some time.

It's fair to say that this game is plain bizarre. Thatís not necessarily a bad thing - not at all. In fact, it's this whacky world that makes this one of the more obscure, weird, and extravagant games we've ever played. Health is regained by drinking Absinthe or Tequila, you witness your girlfriend being mutilated and killed many times over, your main gun is called the "Boner", the little demonic skull that accompanies and talks to you as well as changing into the weapons is called "Johnson", while setting off fireworks involves ramming your fist, rather suggestively, inside a hole.

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Taking on one of the massive bosses.
In terms of the actual gameplay this is primarily a third person shooter in a similar mold to the Resident Evil titles. Garcia has several weapon types available including a standard pistol, a shotgun and machine gun (which shoots teeth). Also available is a Light Shot which turns invincible dark enemies into light ones which can be dispatched while Garcia can also melee enemies to stun them.

One of the more unique aspects of this game is the difference between a light and dark world. At times the world will be thrown into darkness which drains Garcia's energy and, should that deplete, health. Enemies too can be cloaked in darkness which needs to be removed before they can be killed. Having said that, the darkness can also be Garcia's friend with some enemies and switches only able to be damaged or toggled while in the darkness. Some enemies need to be attacked in both the dark and light worlds!

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Taking on a crazy demonic enemy!
Sadly we do have some issues with the game. First of all, while we didn't mind it at all, we can certainly see the sexual innuendo's annoying some people. It really does make Duke Nukem sound like a kids cartoon. It's pretty in-your-face too with plenty of talk of boners, hard-ons, size comparisons and much more.

Sadly the 2D sections of the game (which you can see in the screenshot below) and occur in the latter stages of the title are rather under-developed and while they only encompass a very small section of the game in total they don't really seem to fit with pretty rudimentary shooting required with rather dull enemies. From the crazy minds at Grasshopper Manufacture we expected no less than this sort of "crazyness" but it doesn't quite work and seems like an aspect of the game which someone put some work into and didn't want to drop from the finished product.

Another issue we have are the boss encounters. Pretty much every boss has a bright red blood-filled sack which needs to be destroyed in order to defeat them. Despite needing to use the light and dark worlds, this is pretty much a rinse and repeat gameplay for each boss. At least their design is quite varied. Finally the game isn't overly long with a completion time of around 7-8 hours, and there's little incentive to go back and replay the levels. Multiplayer is nowhere to be found either.

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The disappointing 2D shooter sections.
Visually Shadows of the Damned is a bit of a mixed bag despite running on Unreal Engine 3 it's certainly not the sharpest game on the Playstation 3. Looking at the positives the visuals here are some of the most artistically impressive we seen in a game with some wonderful enemy creature design. These things are absolutely horrific and look fantastic. The frame rate is solid enough too while animation is decent enough as well.

Sadly, there are some disappointments with the visuals too. On a few occasions we noticed some texture draw-in, especially just as a level of location loads. Being such a dark game it's not the most exciting to look at visually either while there a general lack of polish which we would expect from similar horror themed games such as Resident Evil or Dark Space.

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Enemies in Shadows of the Damned are superbly designed.
Sound design in Shadows of the Damned is just as whacky and crazy as every other aspect of this title - and thank goodness for that. Indeed the sound designer for this game is none other then Akira Yamaoka who left Konami in early 2010 where he worked on the Silent Hill games and has now created some of the most haunting sounds for inclusion in this game as well as some wonderful music and a tonne of, often very suggestive and rather inappropriate, dialogue.

Make no mistake about it Shadows of the Damned is the most original, whacky, humourous and inappropriate game you will play this year. The sexual innuendo's and violence may be too much for some, and it really pushes the boundaries, but despite some flaws this is a game which those looking for something different would do well to check out.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSTechnically not the best, but artistically it's quite sensational, and twisted.
SOUNDAudio design is absolutely sensational, even with the somewhat questionable dialogue.
GAMEPLAYThis is actually a technically polished action title.
VALUEAround 7 hours to complete the game, no multiplayer, somewhat questionable value.
OVERALLShadows of the Damned is vulgar and grotesque but if that doesn't bother you this is worth checking out.

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