Shadow The Hedgehog

GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Developed by Sega

Published by Sega

Released: 2005/11/15

Reviewed: 2006/02/26

by Jonathan Leung (JonLeung)



When an alien race called the Black Arms, led by the evil Black Doom, descends upon cities on Earth in an attempt to take it over by force, Shadow, a hedgehog without his memories, must make a choice.  Should he side with the aliens, whose leader seems to know his past, or should he side with Sonic and the forces of GUN to save the world?


Shadow The Hedgehog has always been playable in the few and recent Sonic games that he's been in, but now he gets a game all to himself.  Much controversy surrounded Sega's decision to give Shadow the ability to wield guns, but the game isn't really all that violent.  And while in the opening sequence he's attacking both the good guys and the bad guys, riding a motorbike, acting all tough, being surrounded by explosions, and looking like he might have just pistol-whipped Sonic, all this badass-ness is not indicative of the actual gameplay.

Don't be fooled.  His motorbike is only in the opening sequence.


Take any of the recent 3D Sonic games.  Make Shadow the main character instead.  Throw in a few weapons and a few vehicles.  And that in a nutshell is pretty much what Shadow The Hedgehog is all about.  If you were either worrying or hoping that this would be a gangster game, just with a hedgehog, you'd be sorely mistaken.


If you're just trying to finish the game, many of the stages can simply be a dash for the goal.  The game can literally be finished in about an hour if all you do is speed through it.  After all, he is Shadow The Hedgehog, whose abilities are similar to that of Sonic, including his super speed. It's actually pretty easy to run through crazy terrain, even with enemies all around, and somehow not fall to your doom.  There are still many bottomless areas and the camera still isn't perfect (and may occasionally be problematic enough as to cost you a life) but it's overall pretty safe to just run as fast as you can.  There were some sweaty-palm moments, but not as many as I recall from the other Sonic games this generation.


What truly does set this apart are the multiple morality paths that Shadow can take.  Running through stages will still allow Shadow to find all seven Chaos Emeralds, but this is usually considered the "Normal" path.  It's fairly neutral, as Shadow is collecting these Emeralds in the hopes that his memory will be restored.  There are always two or three ways to complete a mission, and these will include "Dark" and "Hero" objectives.  "Dark" objectives will assist the evil Black Doom (or in some cases, Dr. Eggman, when the greater evil isn't around) and will be something like destroying all the GUN units (human soldiers or robot mechs), or activating bombs or other devious devices.  "Hero" objectives may be to destroy all the Black Arms, or to find and collect things.  The missions are all dependent on the outcome, so unless the objective specifies, there's really no harm in attacking everybody, since they're all going to be attacking you anyway. Attacking enemies on a particular side will power up either your Chaos Control (Hero) ability or your Chaos Blast (Dark) ability but as the meters are entirely separate, again, you can attack at will.

Shadow The Hedgehog with a gun.  Yes, it looks violent, but it's still far from GTA with forest animals.  Very far.


While working on your objectives, if you aren't taking the neutral path, you will be accompanied by the corresponding "Mission character".  These characters can be switched or turned off at any time, though a mission can still be completed if the requirements are met whether or not the character is currently tagging along with you.  They're mostly there to give you tips as you go along (and for amusing remarks if you're shooting up the guys on "their side").  If you know what you're doing, it's best to stay with having the "Hero" partner, as they will often be capable of fighting back.  Hero characters include Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Rouge, Omega, Vector, Espio, Charmy, Maria, and sometimes Dr. Eggman (or rather, a floating monitor with his face on it), the first eight of which are capable of attacking enemies.  Your Dark partner will almost always be Doom's Eye, which is Black Doom's floating eyeball thing, or Dr. Eggman's monitor, both of which are entirely useless in battle.


Your choice of which objective to complete will affect how the story flows and what stage you will go to next.  Because of this branching gameplay, you can end up at one of five different final stages.  The final boss battle will depend on if you choose the Hero or Dark objective for that stage, which leads to a whopping ten different endings.  If you play games particularly to finish them, you'd be glad to know that this is quite doable on a rental, and you'll be glad that each run-through of the game is as short as it is.

Most Sonic characters return.  Except for Big the Cat.  No one likes Big, though, so that's okay.


Another interesting bit (though again not too different from Sonic Adventure 2 (Battle) and Sonic Heroes) is that getting all the endings unlocks the "Last Story", and playing this final mission gets you to the final boss and the "true" ending.


The biggest gripe about the story is that the branching story often doesn't make sense.  The branches enhance the game, but some of these twists are awkward, story-wise.  You can literally be doing an objective against Eggman, then fighting him in a boss battle, but in the next stage, he requests your help.  He doesn't even sound all that desperate.  There are all these characters in the game who require your help, but never seem to truly care when you're clearly not on their side.  (And when you do help, you have to wonder why Shadow, a tough guy with no memories, would willingly help just anyone with sometimes bizarre troubles.)


There are many oldschool Sonic gamers who don't like the 3D games, because of either the 3D mechanics or the focus being shifted away from Sonic or both, and there's no reason for them to have a different opinion on this one.  This game is, however, recommended for those who enjoyed the recent Sonic games and don't mind more of the same.