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Shadow the Hedgehog

Embrace your spiny dark side as Shadow essentially serves up more of the same but with guns and stuff - Westopolis style!

Don't worry, Shadow the Hedgehog isn't half as 'urban' or quite as 'gangsta' as it first seems. Yes, the first level is laughably called Westopolis, the game features a ludicrously poor gunfire sound when you press a menu icon and the odd mixture of human, alien and woodland characters converse in a suitably street manner, plus there's the matter of all those guns you have to play with now. But it soon calms down and becomes a normal 3D Sonic game.

The streets of Westopolis quickly give way to the haunted castles and magic temples we've been spin-dashing through for years, and you're joined by the usual Sonic suspects as you go. Knuckles turns up, Amy Rose is there and poor defenceless little Cream the Rabbit needs to be rescued from da evil Robotnik crew - it's just like a normal Sonic game.


And those guns don't really need to be used that much, which is great news for us people brought up on 15 years of peaceful rescue-thebunnies Sonic play. You can plod through it with a gun, slowly walking and aiming and trying very hard, but it's more fun to not bother and play it like Sonic of old - fast and linking attacks together.

Shadow has the same lock-on jumping attack from Sonic Heroes that lets you automatically attack bad guys without having to worry about your aim, so enemy crews can be gang-banged (bounced) to death just like before games all went urban. It's still a broken idea, though. Enemies take two or three bounces to kill, and once they're dead your attack button becomes a speed-dash button. So you die loads by flying off the edge of a level when Shadow goes to attack a non-existent enemy.

The save system helps lessen repeated death anger, with Shadow's numerous save points also acting as teleporters from which you can whiz back to earlier parts to complete each map's various tasks. There's a lot to do, but as you go it becomes more of a chore. The maps get bigger and more intricate, so there's more getting lost, more falling off ledges and more smashing along at top speed only to get killed by an enemy that pops up right in front of you. All familiar annoying aspects of these modern three-dimensional Sonic games.

If you're a die-hard and quite old Sonic fan, Shadow the Hedgehog will probably disappoint with its weird mish-mash of styles and the same awkward and flawed 3D play of Sonic Heroes. But if you're young and thought Heroes was fun in its own little way (which it sort of was), this is more of the same thing only with loads more stuff to do - and guns. Westopolis-side!

The verdict

Not great, but Shadow's massive levels, speed and multiple challenges make this a decent enough package for Heroes lovers