Reviewed: Shadows of the Damned

Shadows of the Damned main character Garcia Hotspur

Electronic Arts’ latest release, Shadows of the Damned, is a bit of a strange game. It’s not strange in the sense that it’s not appealing or play with weird concepts, but it’s strange in a way that it’s not for everyone and many people might find it a bit offensive.

The plot of the third-person shooter is also something that has  been explored before, but more on that later. Players take on the role of Garcia Hotspur, a Mexican demon hunter. Why they decided to call him Hotspur is anybody’s guess, and although it slightly detracts from the seriousness, it’s not a huge bother.

Players of Dante’s Inferno will find the plot very familiar, as Garcia also ventures into the bowls of hell to rescue his girlfriend. It’s the same plot as Dante’s, but it’s refreshing to see  another development studio’s take on the down-under. Ironically, Dante’s Inferno was also distributed by EA.

Garcia probably has one of the most unlikely partners to help him navigate through hell. Instead of having a sultry female (as most of these games do), he has a gun as a side-kick. But it’s not an ordinary gun… Well, it’s actually a former demon, but his default form is in Garcia’s powerful demon-slayer.

Named Johnson, the demon has the ability to transform into any object that Garcia will need in order to track down and kill the main demon in Hell, called Fleming. Why on earth they would settle for a demon called Fleming is beyond me…

The humour in Shadows of the Damned is a bit salty, to say the least. We have seen it before, but in some strange way it works in the title. There are many references to a certain body part (Johnson springs to mind) and there is the occasional scene of nudity, but it’s all held together with clever dialogue (on the odd occasion).

It must be said that one of the funniest lines to come out of a video this year, comes from Shadows. Let’s just say that it involves a door, a horse and an intimate way in opening it.

In terms of graphics, Shadows of the Damned is successful in their pursuit to deliver a wonderful and creative world. The level of detail could have been a bit better, but there are certain parts where it’s utterly shines through. It’s the old designer trick where you focus on objects that you know the player will look at, and under-develop other areas.

The scare factor comes in when Garcia has to take on a horde of ugly demons, and it can become a bit frantic at times. It seems that there is no quick way of killing them (apart from the perfectly aimed shot at the head), and with no snap-to aiming system, players might find themselves emptying clips rather quickly. But at least ammo and other power-ups are easy to come by.

The game play has all the hallmarks of Executive director Suda51, and although most of his games weren’t well-received, Shadows of the Damned is definitely better than most. It’s a really enjoyable game and although there are a couple of small niggles, it’s worth picking up.

The humour is slightly toilet-coloured, the graphics are great and the controls are functional enough to deliver an action-packed experience. It should keep any hell-bound gamer busy for a while, if they don’t mind the repeating story of Dante’s Inferno.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor