PS3 Reviews: Shadows of the Damned Review

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Shadows of the Damned Review

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Graphics:

 

7.6

Gameplay:

 

8.4

Sound:

 

8.3

Control:

 

8.0

Replay Value:

 

8.0

Overall Rating:       8.1

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

EA

Developer:

Grasshopper Manufacture

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Action

Shadows of the Damned is fiery and relentless, much like its protagonist, the determined Garcia Hotspur. A demon hunter whose cockiness reminds one of Dante, Hotspur is on a quest to reclaim his precious Paula from the powerful and downright insulting demon lord. The game is nicely designed (if a little too cramped), the attitude and style will generate a guilty smile of satisfaction, and the overall feel is functional, but just shy of refined. It’s one of those games that thrives on shock value, but still manages to back up horrendous imagery with engaging gameplay. Despite some technical problems, Grasshopper’s project is undeniably fun.

The graphics are actually the game’s low point, even if they are appropriately horrifying throughout. The artistic flair really is fantastic and in fact, some of the best you’ll see this generation; at almost every turn, there’s another “holy sh**” moment. It just exists within a somewhat out-of-focus shell that lacks clarity and sharpness. In this way, one could argue that we have top-notch concepts and ideas slightly hampered by a presentation that lacks refinement. Still, the special effects and all-encompassing freaky atmosphere are more than enough to compensate, and the design is exactly what you would expect from an all-star development team.

The sound fares a lot better thanks to solid voice acting and a stirring soundtrack that, while a bit repetitive, fits the action beautifully. The effects are another big highlight, as the sickening impact of your ammunition – yeah, it sounds like a splatter – and enthusiastic cries of Hotspur cement an exceedingly dark, invigorating journey. The balance is just about right, too, although the effects will override the music during particularly intense encounters with numerous foes. Also, you do have to accept that some of the characters are intentionally cheesy in nature; the game has a serious tone but there’s always some tongue-in-cheek going on. It’s important to remember that.

Shadows utilizes a third-person action perspective so when you first start playing, it feels like a speedy Resident Evil. Of course, you can move while aiming (unlike RE5) and the general speed of the adventure is almost twice as fast; the lesser enemies will still sort of lumber after you, but they’ll suddenly explode in a frenzy of activity when they get close. You’re always running and you can roll-dodge, smack foes that get too close, and even hit the X button to pull a quick 180. This is effective when surrounded, but as the X button is also used to roll and you’re constantly moving, I didn’t find that 180 turn to be significantly helpful.

All in all, the game moves and controls well but I’d like to get the drawbacks out of the way first. Although the camera usually manages to keep up with the action, it sits a little too close for my taste, and isn’t always perfect. Secondly, you quickly switch between weapons with the d-pad, but I could never seem to do it on the fly as fast as I wanted, and that got annoying at times. Then there’s the problem I mentioned above; the often cramped spaces that greatly limit your scope of movement. I kept wishing the alleys and streets I explored would open up just a little. This does enhance the fear and anxiety factor, though.

There were also a few times where I wasn’t entirely sure what to do, but it’s unlikely you’ll get stuck for long. From the start, this is a nicely paced adventure that keeps you on your toes and continues to bombard you with terrifying imagery. This isn’t the more subtle, creepy, spine-tingling feeling one gets from a game like F.E.A.R. 3; this is an in-your-face, bloody, nasty, absurdly visceral romp. It never lets up for long and many of the boss fights are awesome; the sick design and the interesting way of dealing with the damaging darkness makes for some memorable encounters. There’s a certain darkness that can envelop you in this demon hell and you can only withstand it for so long. If you’re in it for too long, you’ll start losing health.

But sometimes there are human hearts to find that will extend your endurance and furthermore, the darkness may be required. For instance, there’s one boss battle against a huge horse and rider. Each boss has a weak spot or multiple weak spots – designated by red bubble-like areas – and the rider’s weak point was on his back. But it was blue, which is impervious to your bullets. You have to nail him when he runs into a cone of darkness, where the spot becomes red. Then, the horse falls on its side and you can shoot the red weak spot on its belly. This is just one example of how the developers use this darkness gameplay mechanic. I think it’s a little over-used but it’s still cool.

You will find ammunition boxes in the environment but provided you aren’t too erratic with your shots, you shouldn’t have a problem with your supply. That being said, the game absolutely rewards the fast and accurate; if you try to take your time and carefully line up every shot, you have a good chance of being overwhelmed. Or, at the very least, you’ll waste a lot of ammo and become quite frustrated in the process. The advancement system, which utilizes red gems for the upgrading of your weapons, works well, the story isn’t fantastic but it’s endlessly entertaining, the imagery and artistry is extremely effective, and your adventure is nicely paced.

Shadows of the Damned has a bloody, almost combustible aura about it. The aging Unreal engine and relatively unpolished visual palette doesn’t do the artistry justice; that imagination and creativity is just begging to be exposed with a sharper, more accomplished presentation. The controls are just a touch shy of being 100% stable, the environments are often too tight, and unfortunately, the game froze on me a couple times (the transition between gameplay and cinema is anything but smooth). But the end result is very positive; Shadows is just a blast. The design, style, attitude, and bearing of the game is great; it’s loaded with a certain swagger that is to be expected from Shinji Mikami and Suda 51. There’s even a fair amount of genuine comedy...your gun's name is "Johnson," after all.

If you’re looking for something a little different that isn’t perfect but exudes a definite gory charm, give it a try.

The Good: Great overall audio and decent voiceovers. Fantastic artistic and creative appeal. Great enemy and boss design. Good pacing. Rewarding adventure that never lets up for an instant.

The Bad: Unrefined graphics. Control and camera can be a tad quirky. Too many cramped areas.

The Ugly: “Okay, that was gross.”

6/25/2011 Ben Dutka

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Comments (25 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, June 25, 2011 @ 9:57:18 PM
Reply

Interesting, I fully expected something in the 7 range but this review is telling me that I will make it a purchase at some later date when I have more money. Duke and Alice layed me out, but both are very fun. No regrets. And I love over the top productions. Bayonetta notwithstanding.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 6/25/2011 9:58:22 PM

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SayWord
Saturday, June 25, 2011 @ 10:22:33 PM

Haha now you will know why I've been playing this game non-stop since I got it:p

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 12:17:34 AM

Nice bein PSN buddies with ya, we have similar tastes.

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Qubex
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 4:07:08 AM

Bayonetta was a game I wanted to get. I haven't got it yet. From what I remembered the graphics looked very good, even though there seemed to have been issues with the PS3 version. Did that bug you at all World, or did you simply overlook it and play the game for what it was?

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 3:12:13 PM

I overlooked all the technical problems and played it for what it was and disliked it for what it was. However I think it had promise due to the battle system (which gets great once you buy upgrades) and I would not rule out a Bayo 2 try.

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mastiffchild
Monday, June 27, 2011 @ 7:08:20 PM

I thought the technical issues, even with Bayonetta , were WAY overstated and once we got the patch even the load times were bearable. Seriously, the only time I felt going to 360for a multiplatform game was justified on the port alone was TOB and seeing as that and Bayonetta are supposedly the WORST(maybe G'busters but I didn't play that)it was the game which convinced me there was no longer ANY reason for sites like LoT and DF to exist. Developers are aiming purely for a decent level on both platforms so they can then reach parity. They're pushing neither console as hard as top exclusives(painfully obvious most of the time) and the "differences" are rarely things we would ever notice during gameplay and therefore pointless pointing out. If you NEED a program to detect a dropped frame or some tearing what chance has a gamer with the naked eye? Exactly.

Anyway, having read all about the terrible port Sega had made for PS3 I was lucky to end up in the odd situation of getting BIOTH versions for free(off a pair of reviewing buddies)so could try them out asfter each other and see for myself on my own TV-and,sure, it's one of the games where you can, like ,say, FF13 in the other dir4ection, see a few issues with the PS3 version. however, it was sod all compared to the reports I'd heard and I'd sum it up by saying that pre patch the loads were pretty bad but after it both they, and the odd bit of slowdown(which was odd as it didn't seem to matter what was going on onscreen whereas usually you'd only ever expect it during frantic moments with a screen full of different action and tons of characters)wewre much improved. It was NEVER as good as the 360version but it was nowhere near bad enough for me to give up my favoured controller(esp for this kind of game)and I was a bit gutted the press had been so over the top with their reports of it'as weaknesses.

SOTD, however, is a cool game(bearing in mind I don't even like dick jokes and I say that)with some incredible art direction, great gameplay ideas in the light/dark stuff especially at boss fights and worth buying in my eyes as we don't get anything LIKE enough games like this that are wilfully different to the norm. Sadly, in the UK at least EA seem set on it failing. Not only did I notice NO shops in my town had a copy today(seriously, three game stores and not one copy and in one shop the girl didn't even know what it was)which makes me concerned it's not stoked correctly but I've yet to see a single ad ANYWHERE in the UK for the game.

Do EA WANT games from outside their big franchises to sink without trace? It's like Sega and Yakuza in the west all over again, like Activision with Blur or Singularity and I worry that they DO have some odd motive(tax or otherwise IDK at all)and cannot explain the total lack of advertsing for a game which has, for a new IP, reviewed really well-especially considering it's NOT a game for everyone anyway.

Whatever, that's two moans for the price of one I guess but why get two talents like Suda and Mikami together only to ignore what they made? It's WAY more interesting to me than shooter number 436 this year but it's been ignored by it's publisher and therefore looks like being a lost game on the public.Seriously, again, who can buy a game on impulse if it isn't stocked or advertised? I honestly don't even see why they gave Ben a copy to review if they were going to hang it out to dry like this.

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Lawless SXE
Saturday, June 25, 2011 @ 11:04:18 PM
Reply

Sounds like fun. Must get it a little way down the track. Money issues suck...

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cLoudou
Saturday, June 25, 2011 @ 11:04:45 PM
Reply

I wasn't intending to purchase any games until maybe July (Catherine) with the exception of this game, pending reviews specifically PSXE. Guess it will be a buy for me, but after I finish some game(s) from my backlog first.

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Bloodedge
Saturday, June 25, 2011 @ 11:30:59 PM
Reply

It seems like an RE style game, but that actually has a frightening setting and atmosphere, like Dead Space. I'm definitely picking this up when I've got the cash.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 12:18:36 AM

I haven't played it, a demo would be nice, but I think it's got a wild and crazy setting instead of scary.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 12:18:54 AM
Reply

I love stupid crazy Evil Dead horror, so I think I'll enjoy this.

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Lawless SXE
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 1:05:30 AM

Evil Dead is awesome... but I haven't seen the second yet.

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Lord carlos
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 10:57:48 AM

"It got into my hand and turned bad....so i lopped it off at the wrist"
"Who laughing now"
"We just cut up our girlfriend with a chainsaw,does that seem fine?"

Last edited by Lord carlos on 6/26/2011 11:01:16 AM

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Claire C
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 1:51:09 PM

I've seen all three Evil Dead movies and I love them all. =D

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 4:35:51 PM

Claire= my kind of girl

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Oxvial
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 4:21:42 AM
Reply

Gonna get it when hits 39.99 for sure.

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___________
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 5:45:49 AM
Reply

really want to get this but allice has turned out to be allot longer then what i expected.
having allot of problems with RFA too, that has to be the WORST console port i have ever played!
so many bugs you would think bethesda made it, but as if thats not bad enough the 3D profile does not sync the glasses properly, and the SLI profile is wonky too.
game keeps slowing down after every cut scene, i have to minimize the game and maximize it to get the FPS back up.

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Vivi_Gamer
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 8:00:21 AM
Reply

certainly interested, I reckon I shll get this once it comes down in price.

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tlpn99
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 9:10:26 AM
Reply

Great review Ben and I love playing this, the gun is funnier than the mask in Splatterhouse. Between This and Fear 3 I have something to keep me going for ages, I also have to finish La Noire still 6 missions left well 8 now I have got the DLC too.

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Teddie9
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 12:50:03 PM
Reply

Time to go back to hell :)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 4:41:32 PM

thats where im comfortable

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bentl78
Monday, June 27, 2011 @ 1:50:40 AM
Reply

Need to pick this one up, but i am still behind on LA NOIRE and Infamous 2 @.@.. not even done w/ mass effect 2 yet. help!!

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DjEezzy
Monday, June 27, 2011 @ 2:53:42 PM
Reply

Thats a pretty good score actually. Great review!!! Speaking of Shinji Mikami. I never noticed this before, but in Vanquish... One of your AI allies is named S. Mikami. Caught me by surprise. LOL. I found my self saying " Get em' Shinji!!! HaHa

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JackDillinger89
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 5:50:33 PM
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This game is badass! Love johnson as a sidekick. But the replay value is severely lacking.

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