|Shadow the Hedgehog (2005)
Available for: PlayStation 2, XBox, GameCube
There comes a time when a video game series just needs to be put to bed. Among the ongoing franchises I would opt to put out of their misery include “Tomb Raider,” anything Mario-related, “Mortal Kombat,” “Gran Turismo,” and, above all else, “Sonic the Hedgehog.” Seriously. When was the last time anyone got excited over a Sonic game? You’d think we were living in the time of the Sega Genesis, when 16-bit platformers were still fun.
Somebody needs to tell Team Sonic over at Sega this. The newest Sonic installment, “Shadow The Hedgehog,” is so retro it’s boring, and so predictable that unless you’re new to the whole Sonic world, there’s not going to be much fun here. Plus the game just looks like it came out three years ago in the graphics department. It’s as if Team Sonic had this rotten egg lying around on the shelves for a long time and decided to go ahead and release it.
But to get to the point of the game, in this installment, you play as Shadow, who has lost his sense of identity and purpose as it were. It’s not amnesia, it’s just that he doesn’t really know who he is, which is interesting because as soon as Sonic shows up, he immediately recognizes him. Anyway, while he’s pondering away at his own being, a creature called “Black Arms” appears to Shadow and informs him that he must obtain a certain amount of special gems that will help him figure everything out. It’s a half-assed story at best, and there’s also the matter of Shadow remembering some girl named Maria that got axed at some point. It’s all so hazy.
And it’s all so dreadfully pointless to play. This is one of those classic dichotomy games with branching storylines and multiple endings. Will you be good and help Sonic destroy the evil armies invading the planet, or will you help out Black Arms and wreak more havoc, killing cops and all sorts of other extraneous mayhem? You can even play it up neutral and do whatever the hell you like. In the end, it just doesn’t matter too much, and the thrills are so minimal here, you’ll feel like finishing the game doesn’t matter, either.
It’s the same old Sonic style play you’ve come to know time and again. The hedgehogs can do a spin move. They can bounce off bumpers and scream through loop-the-loops at high speeds. However, this time they also have weapons. Different types of guns mainly that are wonky at best as you’ll soon find yourself trying to hit your targets while constantly adjusting your position. Oh yeah, and there are also vehicles you can drive around in and shoot guns from. These are rather pointless, as you don’t even need them to get through the various levels.
That old sense of speed is still intact, but like every other Sonic game before it, it feels clumsy. That means that once again while you’re collecting golden rings at warp speed, you’ll inadvertently bump into something, making you spill them all over. Yawn.
And yes, as stated before, the graphics look like something tailor made for the Dreamcast. What is it with Sega and not being able to get with the times on most of their releases? If anything, it’s proof positive why the company went belly up in the console wars. A little more time could have easily gone into some development here, especially with a franchise this stale.
In the end, there’s little to recommend here. It’s the same old Sonic with a new title and nary a real challenge to be found. It is amusing, however, when Shadow finally “dies” and utters the phrase, “Damn…not here.” He sounds as bored as you will feel playing this waste of time. Don’t even think of renting it, either. There are far better things to spend that video game money on. Please Sega, no more Sonic.