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.
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
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.