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Level Up! We Review the chilling Shadows of the Damned

Shadows of the Damned hits consoles worldwide.

By Tim Janson     July 14, 2011

Shadows of the Damned (Electronic Arts) Rated M Xbox 360, PS3
© Electronic Arts


Lots and lots of news in this week before the San Diego Comic Con. While games are obviously not the focus of the show, more and more game publishers are showing up to display their wares in a sort of mini E3. You can count on being able to pocket a lot of exclusive swag if you stop by their booths. Ubisoft will feature the first public demos of Just Dance 3 and Rabbids: Alive & Kicking. In addition, Ubisoft will demo Rayman Origins, and host an exclusive panel for Assassin’s Creed Revelations. Additionally, Rayman Origins fans can win a free T-shirt by checking in on Facebook at the Rayman Origins billboard at 6th Avenue & F Street, in the Gaslamp quarter, and then claim their prize at Ubisoft’s booth. Other prizes will be given away at the booth, including special pre-order discounts and incentives on the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Revelations and Just Dance 3 releases.
Konami will be hosting a couple of events at their booth. There will be a fan signing event with key members of Kojima Productions, including Hideo Kojima, famed METAL GEAR SOLID series creator. In addition to the Kojima Productions signing event, KONAMI will also host a cos-play competition for fans, with prizes and awards for the taking.
Out this week as noted below is Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 5th Anniversary Edition. Normally I would not be so geeked but I really think Elder Scrolls IV is the best RPG ever released on a console and any chance to play it again and introduce the game to a new legion of fans is ok by me! I simply cannot wait for Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 5th Anniversary Edition Now Available
Rejoice Elder Scrolls fans because you have another opportunity to play one of the greatest console RPG games ever as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 5th Anniversary Edition is now available in retail stores across North America .  This anniversary edition is the complete collection of the original award-winning game as well as the Knights of the Nine and Shivering Isles expansions. With countless ‘Game of the Year’ awards and overwhelming critical praise, Oblivion still remains a defining game in the role-playing genre. Celebrate one of the most expansive next-generation titles ever to be released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC platforms with this definitive, limited-edition compilation.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 5th Anniversary Edition includes:
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: With the empire ready to crumble, the gates of Oblivion open and demons march upon the land. You must find the lost heir to the throne and unravel the sinister plot that threatens to destroy all of Tamriel.
  • Knights of the Nine: A fallen King has been unchained from the darkness of Oblivion to seek vengeance upon the Gods who banished him. Only a champion pure of heart can vanquish the evil that has been released.
  • Shivering Isles: Enter the torn realm of Sheogorath – a world where Mania and Dementia reign. Do you have the strength to survive his trials, to tame a realm fraught with paranoia and despair, and wear the mantle of a God?
The North American 5th Anniversary Edition also includes:
  • Collector’s Steelbook: A beautiful collectible metal case masterfully embossed with Daedric symbols.
  • Making of Oblivion: A behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of Oblivion.
  • Oblivion Game Map: A full-color map of Cyrodiil and the Shivering Isles.
  • Save on Skyrim: Contains a $10 mail-in rebate offer for the purchase of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and a Skyrim strategy guide.
2K Games Launches Sid Meier’s Civilization World for Facebook
2K Games today announced that Sid Meier’s Civilization World for Facebook, the newest entry from the genre-defining strategy-based franchise, is now available. Civilization World takes the series’ famously addictive style of gameplay and makes it easier than ever to play with friends on the world's largest social platform. Developed at Firaxis Games by legendary game designer and creator of the Civilization series, Sid Meier, Civilization World offers a deep, robust gameplay experience, and an end goal for all players to strive towards. Players can now take charge of their civilizations and jump into Civilization World by logging into their Facebook account and accessing this app page: apps.facebook.com/civworld.
Civilization World is set in a persistent online world where players collaborate with friends to become the strongest nation to accomplish an end goal of becoming the world’s most powerful civilization. Players manage and grow their own city to maximize its production and happiness, and later team up with friends to win great battles, forge powerful alliances, grant clever treaties, and create sinister schemes to outwit and overpower adversaries. Citizens can share technology to jump ahead of rivals, pass important civics and vote on vital policies, spy on enemies, and create the great wonders of the world. From the Dark Ages to the Space Age, collaborative efforts with real community leaders and ideas allow for intellect and cunning to win loyalties, battles and eras to create the most powerful nation in the world.
“Our team set out to create an exciting Civilization game for Facebook where for the first time, players can join with their friends to build a powerful empire and rule the world,” said Sid Meier, Director of Creative Development at Firaxis Games. “Civilization World is a fun and engaging game that both fans of the series and fans of Facebook games will find immediately addictive, and we look forward to adding to the experience as the game continues to evolve in this dynamic new gaming world.”
Civilization World is now available for free, and accessible to everyone with a Flash-enabled browser and a Facebook account to play anywhere at any time.
Bethesda Announces Dishonored
Bethesda Softworks, confirmed that it will publish Dishonored, an all-new first-person action game under development at Arkane Studios. Dishonored will be the first project for the studio since being acquired by ZeniMax in 2010.  Under the direction of co-creative directors, Raphael Colantonio, lead designer on Arx Fatalis, and Harvey Smith, lead designer on Deus Ex, Dishonored is set for release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC in 2012.   Details on Dishonored will be revealed in the exclusive cover story in Game Informer’s August issue, which ships to subscribers in early July 2011 and hits newsstands on July 15th.
EA buys Popcap
Electronic Arts has purchased PopCap Games, maker of games like Bejeweled, Peggle, Zuma, and Plants Vs. Zombies. EA reportedly paid $650 million in cash along with $100 million in stock. 
Nintendo Video Coming to 3DS this Summer
Nintendo Video, a 3DS app that delivers free content to the handheld, was made available in Japan and Europe on July 13. North America will have to wait for another couple of months to get the app. Nintendo of America's senior director and GM of network business, Tony Elison, told 1UP, "Nintendo's short-form video service that delivers special video content for Nintendo 3DS systems will launch in North America later this summer." Nintendo Video, like the Spot TV service already available in Japan, will routinely offer free 2D and 3D video downloads. This will include Netflix streaming for those with accounts.
From Dust Coming to PC July 27
Ubisoft announced that From Dust, a modern God game from visionary creator Eric Chahi, will be available for PC on UBIShop, Steam, GameStop and other online digital services for $14.99 on July 27, 2011.  From Dust allows players to control the destiny of a primitive tribe against the backdrop of a world in constant evolution, in one of the most advanced real-time nature simulations, where everything you see and interact with evolves dynamically, offering a constantly renewed experience.  From Dust saw recent success at E3 2011, taking home several awards and nominations including Best Strategy Game from the Game Critics Awards: Best of E3.

QuakeCon 2011 to feature first looks at The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Prey 2
QuakeCon, the ultimate video game festival, will kick off on Thursday, August 4th 2011 with a keynote address from John Carmack, co-founder and Technical Director of id Software.  During the show attendees will also have the opportunity to see Todd Howard, Game Director of Bethesda Game Studios, present the award-winning The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim publicly for the first time. QuakeCon will also see the first public demo of the highly-acclaimed Prey 2, which will be demoed by Chris Rhinehart, Project Lead at Human Head Studios. In addition to being able to play RAGE on the show floor, attendees will be able to check out a special presentation of the award-winning shooter given by Matt Hooper, the game’s Design Director.
Skyrim is the next installment in the award-winning Elder Scrolls series and reimagines and revolutionizes the open-world fantasy epic, bringing to life a complete virtual world open for you to explore any way you choose. Recently at E3 2011, Skyrim was awarded over 25 awards, received 45 nominations and was voted ‘Best Console Game’ and ‘Best Role Playing Game’ by the Game Critics Awards, an independent group made up of journalists from 31 leading North American media outlets that cover the videogame industry. The game will be released worldwide on November 11, 2011 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Games for Windows.
Prey 2, the sequel to the award-winning 2006 game, is an open world sci-fi shooter about Killian Samuels, a Federal Marshall who is abducted by a cruel race of aliens. Playing as Killian, you find yourself marooned on an alien planet called Exodus. While working as a bounty hunter, you uncover a plot that threatens your home world and it’s up to you to take action. Prey 2 garnered a collection of awards and accolades during E3 2011. It was voted ‘One of the Most Valuable Games at E3’ by editors at PC Gamer and was nominated for over 20 awards including ‘Best Action Game’ by the Game Critics Awards.
Another pre-order offer for Dead Island from Deep Silver
Deep Silver has announced a new pre-order offer for its upcoming zombie epic, Dead Island .  This time the offer is for those who pre-order from Amazon.com.  Ordering from Amazon will get you a digital art book including tons of game art and concept art of everything from the characters, that fat tourist dude with the camera, zombie types, environment concepts, etc! 
Bioshock Infinite Full E3 Demo
Bioshock Infinite was perhaps the most talked about game trailer of E3 and now you can see even more.  Check out the YouTube video below to see the full, 15 minutes plus demo of the game!

Konami Announces Castlevania Harmony of Despair for Playstation 3
Konami announced that Castlevania Harmony of Despair will be coming to the PlayStation Network later this summer. Players will now have the opportunity to be reunited with Dracula featuring fast paced, 2D side scrolling action that the series has become known for with a new local 4 player co-op mode added to compliment the excising 6 player online co-op mode already in place. Also added into the PlayStation version is the "Beauty, Desire, Situation Dire" Map pack, which is known as the Pyramid of Ruin level as well as downloadable characters Julius Belmont and Yoko Belnades, all available with the regular purchase of the game.
In Castlevania Harmony of Despair, fan favorite vampire hunters from throughout the series come together in order to return Dracula to his eternal slumber. Joining forces with friends on the PlayStation Network, up to six players can explore massive levels inspired by the worlds of Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin and Order of Ecclesia via online co-op play. Players will also be able to join in on the fun locally as a new 4 player local co-op mode has been added to the PlayStation version. As players employ their cooperative skills to unleash devastating attacks and fight the forces of darkness, they can discover hidden locations, special items and equipment to help in their quest. Fearless players can even choose to engage in competitive Survival Mode with friends to and determine the best slayer of evil. Featuring detailed 2D art and now including bonus content in the form of map and character packs on the first day, Castlevania Harmony of Despair will provide players with a thrilling, next generation gaming experience coupled with the classic Castlevania aesthetic
Call of Juarez : The Cartel  (Ubisoft)  Rated M  Ps3, Xbox 360, PC
Call of Juarez : The Cartel is the third installment of the Western action shooter video game franchise, Call of Juarez. Call of Juarez : The Cartel includes the same attributes of a great Western shooter, upgraded to reflect modern times. For instance, instead of outlaws and brothels, you'll find cartel kingpins and strip clubs. But make no mistake, the spirit of the Wild West is still very much alive. You'll experience the lawlessness of the old country as you fight to take down a powerful drug cartel in a world where every man is out for himself.
When a Mexican drug cartel bombs a U.S. law enforcement agency, the U.S. government puts together a special task force to hunt them down. Play as Ben McCall, a brutal LAPD cop and descendent of Ray McCall, or Eddie Guerra, a DEA agent with a chronic-gambling habit, or gang-affiliated street kid turned FBI agent, Kim Evans. As you dig into the mystery of the bombing and fight to dismantle the cartel, you'll embark on a blood-soaked road trip through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and, ultimately, Juarez, Mexico.

Captain American: Super Soldier (Sega)  Rated T  PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Wii, 3DS
Captain America : Super Soldier is a third-person, single player action-adventure game in which players take up the fight, as well as the shield of America 's original comic book super soldier, Captain America . The game features an exciting blend of free-flowing combo based combat and acrobatic platforming against the backdrop of an original storyline set in the universe of the major motion picture release of the same name. Additional features include: the full list of Captain America 's greatest villains and superior graphics that bring the adventures of the iconic hero to life.
Become Captain America , the ultimate Super-Soldier, in the darkest days of World War II as you face the Red Skull and his army in this epic third-person action adventure. Wield Captain America 's legendary shield to take out multiple enemies at once, deflect incoming fire back at your enemies, solve puzzles, and scale walls. Above all, hurl yourself shield-first into the fray, with the superior force of the world's first Super-Soldier at your fingertips. Engage in free-flowing combat and acrobatic platforming to infiltrate Hydra's massive and mysterious castle complex and battle the infamous Iron Cross, the forces of Hydra, and a host of nefarious enemies serving the Red Skull in an all-new Captain America story and adventure.
Captain America : Super Soldier combines an acrobatic combat system with fluid platforming and a highly tuned suite of shield attacks including melee combos. In addition, the completely original story for Captain America : Super Soldier is penned by noted comic, film, and TV writer Christos Gage. The primary writer for the Marvel's Avengers: The Initiative series of comics, Gage has written numerous books for major Marvel characters, including Siege: Captain America , Iron Man, X-Men, Spider-Man, Civil War: House of M, and Union Jack.

Smurfs (Ubisoft) Rated E  3DS, DS, Wii
In the Smurfs DS/DSi you get to play a series of fun and educational mini-games and read-along stories about the Smurfs as they prepare for the Blue Moon festival in their village and are disrupted by Gargamel. The Smurfs’ game and story is based on Sony & Columbia Pictures’ upcoming hybrid live-action/CGI blockbuster movie releasing July 29, 2011.
Just Dance Summer Party (Ubisoft)  Rated E  Wii
Stoke the fire this summer with Just Dance Summer Party, a limited time offer! Enjoy classic Just Dance gameplay to over 20 new tracks, including hit songs like 'Firework', 'Pon De Replay', 'Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of Monika)', and more! Spanning a variety of genres and musical tastes, everyone at your party will find a song to groove to this summer. Easy to pick up and play, all you need is the Wii Remote! Just Dance Summer Party is the perfect game for family night and party night!
Shadows of the Damned (Electronic Arts) Rated M Xbox 360, PS3
I wanted to love Shadows of the Damned but I only liked it. This third-person shooter finds a Mexican demon-hunter named Garcia Hotspur having to chase a demon lord named Fleming down into the underworld to rescue his beloved Beatrice…uhh…I mean Paula. Yeah sorry…the comparisons between this game and Dante’s Inferno are inevitable. Shadows of the Damned plays on a somewhat smaller stage than the truly abysmal landscape of Dante’s Inferno. It feels like Hell’s low rent district. Hotspur carries around his Johnson as a weapon…snicker snicker…In this case Johnson is a former demon who is now a spirit who can transform from gun to torch, to melee weapon instantly and also is Hotspur’s guide through hell. If you’ve read the Harry Dresden urban fantasy novels think of Johnson like Bob the skull who supplies almost a constant stream of wisecracks throughout your travels in Hell. The banter between the two certainly beats the Hell (pun intended) out of Dante’s constant whining.

Shadows of the Damned photos

Other than that there isn’t much story in Shadows of the Damned. Apparently Fleming is mad that Hotspur’s been killing off his legion of demons and decides to teach him a lesson by kidnapping his girlfriend. Weirdness abounds off the bat. Goatheads are mounted to the facades of buildings and much happily on…something. But they serve a greater purpose. Shooting the goatheads with a lightshot from your gun illuminates your immediate area and dispels the darkness. Darkness is very bad…first, darkness can quickly drain your health if you don’t quickly find a light source. Secondly certain demons can be covered with a cloak of darkness that makes them invulnerable to your standard ammo until you light up a goathead or blast the darkness off (temporarily) with a lightshot, making them vulnerable for a short period. But this battling the demons and darkness becomes repetitive quickly and at times frustrating. Sometimes you have no choice but to descend into darkness to find a target that can only be shot in this state.   While you fumble about to find the target, find hearts to restore your rapidly dwindling health, you’ve got hordes of demons looking to make lunch out of you. Of course the darkness does help to hide the bland scenery so that’s a positive.
Hotspur can collect several different items along the way…bones to purchase items from vending machines and gems to upgrade his attacks, health, ammo capacity, etc…Health potions come in the form of alcohol (and wow…talk about a bad message to send there!). Get low on health? Guzzle a bottle of Tequila! Demons take several shots to kill, even the minor ones although a well-aimed head shot can take them out immediately. But you’ll find plenty of ammo along the way so don’t spend too much time going for head-shots. 

Shadows of the Damned photos

There’s no jumping in Shadows of the Damned. The X button’s usual move is replaced by either using it to quickly turn 180 degrees or to use it in conjunction with the movement stick to roll and dodge one way or the other. The 180 turn can come in useful; especially when you find yourself surrounded…which is often! It wouldn’t be so bad if not for the lousy camera that is zoomed in so tightly that it makes it hard to see what you’re being attacked by. Ultimately combat is perhaps the game’s weakest point. Different enemies don’t translate to being more interesting and the fights all run together without leaving an impression on the player. Control simply isn’t fluid enough for a next-gen console shooter. 
What Shadows of the Damned may lack in design style it makes up for in gut-churning grit. Hell’s not supposed to be pleasant obviously, but there’s some truly terrifying sights and sounds awaiting Garcia. You’ll encounter several doors and gates with a Baby’s face for a door plaque that cries when you approach. That’s a bit unnerving. In order to pass through you need to give the baby a treat such as a strawberry at which point he (it?) will coo and giggle. There’s also loads of tormented and tortured bodies spread about…you can’t do anything with these like in Dante’s Inferno where you could release souls but as pure chilling scenery its quite effective. The gallows humor that Hotspur and Johnson share back and forth makes this deranged trip even more unsettling. Of course there’s also an ample amount of crude juvenile dick jokes stemming from the whole ‘Johnson’ thing.
Shadows of the Damned is a fun, if not overly absorbing game. At 8 – 10 hours to complete, gameplay is just average and without any online modes or being able to play again with the loot you’ve acquired there isn’t much replay value. But in terms of atmosphere, gruesome imagery, and colorful characters this is a game definitely worth checking out. Grade B-



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