Shadows of The Damned (www.ea.com/shadows-of-the-damned) Rated M for Mature by ESRB. Shadows of the Damned is ridiculous, over the top, and one hell of an adventure through Hell. The game follows Garcia Hotspur, a Mexican demon hunter, along with his sidekick (and former demon) Johnson. Garcia travels and blasts his way through the depths of Hell to save his love. This game presents a very unique style, since it combines elements from both executive director Goichi Suda (the man behind the “No More Heroes” series) and creative producer Shinji Mikami (the creator of “Resident Evil 4”).

Shadows of The Damned Shadows of The Damned(www.ea.com/shadows-of-the-damned) Rated M for Mature by ESRB. Shadows of the Damned is ridiculous, over the top, and one hell of an adventure through Hell. The game follows Garcia Hotspur, a Mexican demon hunter, along with his sidekick (and former demon) Johnson. Garcia travels and blasts his way through the depths of Hell to save his love. This game presents a very unique style, since it combines elements from both executive director Goichi Suda (the man behind the “No More Heroes” series) and creative producer Shinji Mikami (the creator of “Resident Evil 4”).



**WARNING** The following video may contain content inappropriate for children**




Presentation:
Visually, the demons and weapons all look like something out of an over the top horror film. Speaking of horror films, also thrown into the mix are some wonderful pieces composed by Akira Yamaoka, one of whom holds the sound composer credit for the “Silent Hill” series. All of these pieces join up to deliver an awesome and grueling gaming journey through Hell. Hell has never looked so hot and scary at the same time. This game could make a Christian out of an atheist.

Garcia Hotspur looks similar to a punk rock kind of guy, sporting a leather jacket, scars and black hair. Garcia is a rough hero, fighting demons for a living on Earth, so this dude doesn’t take any crap from these demons in their home world. Johnson, his sidekick, is a flaming flying metal skull–very rock and roll. Conveniently for the player, Johnson has the ability to transform into a variety of weapons, a torch, or even a motorcycle. The demons come in all shapes and sizes, and keep Garcia constantly on his toes, and in full need of Johnson’s capabilities.

The story line itself is ridiculous: you go into Hell to save your girlfriend, who is your true “to die for” love. Don’t expect any heart-warming moments, however; just get ready for the ride of an adrenaline-intensifying game, filled with awesome over-the-top action.

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Graphics:
Shadows of the Damned is a very dark game, meaning nothing is ever too bright and vibrant. The darkness of Hell is constantly presented. However, this helps emphasize the style, creepiness and horror factor that should be inherent in a game that takes place in Hell—right? The proper dark and gritty details are there, and Hell hasn’t been depicted this graphically since they tried to scare the pants off you in Sunday School.

Sounds:
Voice acting is stellar in Shadows of the Damned. Garcia’s emotions are clearly expressed, and Johnson’s, as well. They both help to narrate the story as it progresses, and certainly express themselves to their fullest. These two characters certainly don’t hide or hold anything back. They’re full of humorous dialogue, too.

The music is really well executed in Shadows of the Damned, with help from the man who directed most of the sound in the “Silent Hill” series. The music sets a mood that can be ominous, invigorating, or thrilling, as required by the scenario. The score definitely helps you really feel the situation with the sounds and audio effects.

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Gameplay:
Shadows of the Damned isn’t a hard game to pick up on at all. Weapons have primary fire, and there is also a secondary fire that is the light shot, which is used to help light your way, stun some demons, and weaken others. The game plays a lot like “Resident Evil 4”, with a third person shooter style of game play. It feels a little faster-paced than “Resident Evil 4”, since the zombies don’t feel as slow and lumbering. Controls are very easy and friendly, and I had no frustration or problems navigating Garcia through the game. There are three basic weapons in Shadows if the Damned, each of which receive upgrades throughout the game as you progress. The player can also use other upgrades to increase health, weapon power, ammo capacity, etc.

It’s also important to note that Shadows of the Damned is only a single player game–just one helluva joy ride through Hell for you, and you alone.

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Innovations:
Shadows of the Damned conforms to the third person horror shooter, and plays exactly like a third person horror shooter should. The only difference here is that the story, weapons and other embellishments are all over the top, and provide the gamer with some thrilling demon-fighting experiences. Although Garcia doesn’t look like the best possible pick for a hero, he does enjoy killing demons, which fortunately enough for him, also does good for the world.

Longevity:
Shadows of the Damned offers a fairly lengthy 7 – 10 hour campaign, based on your speed and difficulty setting. This amount of time is nothing too lengthy or stretched out, but just long enough to keep this trip through Hell fun. Once you beat the game, though, there isn’t much left except to try and beat the game on a higher difficulty setting, or to apply your upgrades differently.

Conclusion:
Shadows of the Damned is a really fun game, provided that the player is not looking for anything too special besides the kind of game play mechanics we’ve all been thoroughly exposed to before. The style of the game is executed imaginatively while using a punk rock B movie style mixed with truly frightening images of the horrors in Hell. And, yes, there is a surprise twist to the story line that makes the whole journey through Hell well worth the trip. If you’re a fan of “No More Heroes”, you should probably invest in Shadows of the Damned right now, but any other third person shooter fan may find indifferent about the purchasing decision. Either way, you’ll have a hot time playing it.

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