Available for Xbox 360 (reviewed here), PlayStation 3
Developed by Grasshopper Manufacture
Distributed by EA Games
There have been many video game characters who have transcended the medium and become pop culture icons. Master Chief, Mario, hell, even Pac-Man. The reason the select few have become so iconic is because they had character and the worlds in which they roamed free served to suck in gamers everywhere. I’m here to say that a new hero has joined the select few that have gone on to stardom. There’s just one problem. It’ll never happen. At least not in public circles. The bottom line is that the world is too shit scared and uptight regarding a main character like we have here in EA Games’ latest foray to the dark side, Shadows of the Damned. My fellow gamers, let me be clear …
Do NOT fuck with Garcia Hotspur.
From the creative genius of Suda 51 (No More Heroes) and Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil) comes a unique take on what Hell would be like should it be a city populated with every undead and twisted creature you could imagine, with an anti-hero at the helm who is half Max Cady from Cape Fear and half Tony Montana from Scarface. We’re not kidding.
The story is something we’ve seen countless times by now, though rarely is it presented in a manner that feels so fresh and exciting. An evil demonic creature kidnaps Garcia’s girlfriend, holding her captive in the City of the Damned, circa The Great Inferno. To get her back, Garcia enlists the help of a former demon with the unique ability to transform into a wide array of nasty flesh-tearing weaponry. Locked, loaded, and thoroughly pissed off, Garcia is prepared to go to Hell and back to save his babe of choice and along the way he’s prepared to mangle everything that stands in his way.
Shadows of the Damned is a truly cinematic game filled with hilarious dialogue, unforgivable profanity, nudity, and the kind of graphic violence that would have the MPAA peeing in their diapers. Every detail is rendered with the type of ghastly beauty that will have your eyes popping. There are a few draw-in problems along the way as each level loads, but nothing that will take away from this deliciously gooey experience. Character models are solid and quite menacing when close up, and the relationship that Garcia has with his handy former demonic friend will keep you in stitches as you traverse through landscapes littered with hanging bodies and severed limbs. Shadows of the Damned truly earns every bit of its M rating, and we loved every gore-soaked, profane second of it.
The gameplay is pretty standard third person shooter fare (i.e., upgrading your weapons, finding (in this case) tequila to help replenish your health bar, and moving in between the darkest parts of the land as a means to make it to the light where Hell’s minions have a harder time getting you). Still, despite the familiarity, the game feels remarkably fine tuned, with the only issue being a camera that can be at times a bit on the uncooperative side.
There’s no doubt some people out there will find the gameplay repetitious as you shred your way through enemy after enemy in a single-player only campaign that can last anywhere in the neighborhood of ten to twelve hours. But for me, speaking as a horror fan, I couldn’t get enough. Especially since the game is literally loaded with references to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise that when noticed will have you grinning from ear-to-ear. Sadly, once it’s over, there’s little reason to return to the table, but just like a well cooked Thanksgiving feast, your belly will be well filled until (hopefully) a sequel returns next year.
In the end Shadows of the Damned doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and some of its mechanics (shooting noticeable weakspots on a boss to take them down) may even feel a bit antiquated, but this is truly a love letter to a simpler time of horror gaming complete with a Ghosts and Goblins style level map. This often deranged little game could very well end up being the sleeper horror hit of the year.
Oh, and in case you didn’t get it the first time …
Do NOT fuck with Garcia Hotspur.
4 out of 5
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