If you think it is tough to get to Heaven, try battling your way to Hell!
Just when you thought it was safe to die, out comes the Spawn. In the new game, Spawn, from Sony Computer Entertainment, you can battle for your freedom from the ruler of the Eighth Sphere of Hell. In this adventure/fighting game, you are Spawn, formerly known as Al Simmons, a professional assassin, that is until you died. When Al Simmons got torched he made a deal with Malebolgia, to join the Devil's Own Army and return to Earth as Spawn. But to free yourself from this eternal bondage, you must find your way back to Hell and defeat Malebolgia himself.
This is a one player game that requires the player to travel through a series of maze-like realms and collect the tools and hints that are needed to make your way back to Hell. Of course, there are many enemies along the way to try and stop you. This game is unique in the way that the battle aspect of the game blends smoothly with the adventure aspect, switching instantly to a 'fighting game'. Unlike adventure games where battles take place in the same frame of reference as the looking for of clues and hints, and etc., this game treats the meeting of each opponent like a separate battle. Although the actual controls in the battle are impractical, it is beneficial to have the battle segmented from regular game play. With this feature you do not have to worry about attacked by surprise by an enemy that was missed.
This is especially important in this game, because the views that the player gets while roaming the realms are not, necessarily, the ones that you would want. The views, for some reason, do not always let the player see where they are trying to go, or even in front of them. Many times this leaves the player with a blind spot that would be troublesome if enemies could attack suddenly or swiftly. Instead you just miss clues or objects.
The graphics in this game are moderate. Spawn, himself, looks pretty good, but moves strangely at times. The 3D worlds are fairly well designed, but too pixely, and with too many of the same boring texture maps. However, one thing that sticks out in my mind was the sky in all the levels. It is almost indescribable, except to say that it looks like a combination between smog, lights, and, uh, Magic Kool-Aid. Unfortunately, there is not much other value to the graphics other then their inherent aesthetics. They are no real great special effects, in particular, but the game gives an overall impression of being well constructed.
It seems odd that a game with that much of it's story based in magic has no real magical effects. Sure Spawn travels around trying to find magical 'oracles', but they only help him in battles, and they are not very imaginative effects. Also, these moves are incredibly hard to execute. It is frustrating to collect over ten oracles for a particular spell, and not be able to use any of them because the combat in the battles is too fast to push the D-pad in four directions and then push triangle while holding start with your nose before getting attacked. But if you cannot do all of these maneuvers then you cannot summon the magic. This is a big handicap because after a certain stage, the enemies cannot be defeated with the normal, over-simplified battle moves.
And the battle moves in this game are about as unimaginative and useless as any game I have seen. Who ever heard of a battle where you could not jump? We're talking about the Spawn here, how could he not have the ability to jump in a battle? The most frustrating thing is that he can jump when he is just walking around searching for clues and magic, but not in battle. It makes no sense to me. Even apart from the lack of jumping, the battle moves are weak. Just basic kicks and punches. Wow! Now, it seems to me that the road to hell would require a little more combat skill than just punching and kicking.
Spawn does get credit for one fun fighting move: You can rip off a guy's arm and hit him with it.
This game is not for someone who wants a wild adventure. It has a very sedate pace: walk around, fight, walk around, fight etc. I'm doubt that most people would consider their time as a fair trade for what small entertainment the game provides. However, it is a quite an epic adventure, at least in the comic books. In play, however, successes are few and far between.