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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 December 2005, 09:30 GMT
Sonic remix offers same old story
By Seth Goolnik

Shadow the Hedgehog, Sega
Even armed and on a motorbike, Shadow is lacklustre
Guns don't kill people, hedgehogs do.

Or at least that is how the Welsh comedy rap band Goldie Lookin' Chain might have put it if they had the misfortune to play this game.

Shadow The Hedgehog is set in the world of the infamously hirsute Sonic.

As most gamers know, Sonic's world is quite a merry one, filled with verdant forests, skipping bunnies, slightly inconvenient loops, and obese yet anodyne megalomaniacs in malfunctioning robots.

But Shadow's world seems strikingly different, and it can be attributable to one thing: Shadow has issues. He is moody, brunette, and, most unsettlingly, he has a very large machine gun.

Cheesy fun

Sonic The Hedgehog was never a brooding meditation on man's nature in the mould of The Seventh Seal. It has always been disposable arcade fun, so to attach a soul-searching plot and obligatory screaming there had better be a good justification. Shadow does not have a good justification.

Screenshot from Shadow the Hedgehog, Sega
Format: Multi-platform (PS2 reviewed)
Graphics: 7
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 3
Enduring appeal: 4
Overall: 5
Anyone who has played Sonic Adventure has already played this game. Sonic Adventure was released five years ago. And on the Dreamcast. You dash down loops and spring around colourful levels in what is essentially a mockery of 3D.

As Shadow curls into a ball and spins ahead to bash enemies or flip over jumps, the developers seem to hope you will not notice that this is a game on rails.

You cannot move from the main path of the level; as the unwieldy camera refuses to rotate it is always clear you can only go where you are told to.

Mario 64 mastered 3D when it was released in 1997. You really felt like you where in a unique world and could go wherever you desired.

That a game like Shadow The Hedgehog imposes grating limits on your freedom was disappointing five years ago but is inexcusable now.

The main improvements over the ancient Sonic Adventure are the graphics and frame-rate. Shadow does race along at a jolly rate, and with cameos from all the Sonic suspects, at times it can almost be fun.

But at best you will only ever be stunned, not involved, because there just is not enough of a game to get involved with. You jump, you dash, you go around yet another loop and the camera pushes you endlessly down the track.

Oh, and you shoot. Shadow has a variety of monstrous weapons but they are entirely unnecessary.

As you race through the levels you do not need to gun down some poor robotic chimp. You can, but you do not need to. It feels very tagged on.

Shadow's posturing is bluster and his content inexcusable. Rather like Goldie Lookin' Chain.

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