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Developer Sony Options
Distributer Sony 1 Player
Game Type Strategy/Beat-em-up Memory Card
Review Date March 1998 Standard Joypad
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Setting the Scene
Todd McFarlane began working on Spiderman and made it one of Marvel Comics' best-selling titles. He then left Marvel, citing policies that inhibited his creativity, and formed Image Comics, whose first comic book was Spawn. Spawn went on to a become a huge success, spawning a line of action figures, clothing, a movie, an acclaimed animation series, and, now a video game. Today, Image is a comic book company right up there with Marvel and DC. but amongst all the characters that have been created for this company, Spawn still remains a cut above the rest.

Successfully combining two genres together has always proved to be a difficult task. Some, such as strategy/adventure or strategic shoot-em-up, go hand in hand while others often end up as a mismatched shambles being neither one thing or the other. Strategic beat-em-ups in the past have failed to get the juices flowing with the best offering to date being the reasonably acceptable Fighting Force, while less successful attempts include the embarrassing Crow - City of Angels.

Spawn is an adventurous first person strategic beater from Sony. The player controls a comic book superhero who must battle his way through prehistoric, medieval and modern worlds in an attempt to reach the keeper of his soul. The game areas include plenty of secret rooms that reveal hidden weapon power-ups.

The opening movie is all over in a blink of the eye making it hardly worth mentioning - so I'll not.
Soon you are in control of a six foot plus, wide framed, masked superhero. The game is initially viewed from behind the main character and first impressions of him are that he seems to be breathing heavily because of the way his whole body expands and contracts when standing still. A flick of the shoulder button takes the view into a first person perspective, but make sure that you are not standing too near the scenery because this will only highlight the awful blocky effect. Pressing left or right on the directional pad smoothly pans the view swiftly around the opening cave area to allow you to get your bearings. Unfortunately it is so dark and gloomy that it is difficult to see where the floor ends and the wall begins. All around the walls mosaic flames rise from torches but these fail to emit any light sourcing whatsoever, only acting as a distraction to the task in hand. On moving forward Spawn sets off on a medium paced jog that scrolls along fairly smoothly but his shorter steps are very jerky.

Once out of the opening area your character moves around a network of gloomy tunnels and dark subways, although he sometimes ventures above ground onto the village streets at night and investigates the surrounding buildings. Many obstacles in your way can be smashed by a wave of his fist or a kick out with the foot until he eventually approaches an enemy. Here the perspective changes to a side on view for the beat-em-up stages. You must quickly adjust your train of thought because the up and down controls suddenly change to left and right to move him forward and backwards. There are a couple of effects worth mentioning during the fighting scenes. Your character spills green blobs of blood when struck by an enemy and if your health bar becomes low you can summon up the power to recharge it by pressing a combination of buttons which give off a flash of green light. When it's all over the view returns to the standard perspective and the game continues where you left off.

Sounds and Effects
The music is quite complimentary to the action. As you tirelessly plod around the miles of corridors you are treated to a background of haunting sounds that will keep you on the edge of your seat. When the action changes to beat-em-up style the music follows suit as it becomes a little more rock orientated.

The sound effects during the fighting stages are fairly well handled with every connection providing a resulting scream of pain or roar from the sheer effort involved.

Spawn begins his adventures in an enclosed room facing four doors of which one will open. This leads to a dead end but by leaping onto a higher level and waving his fist he can smash a hole through a timber window. The puzzles are hardly mind boggling and follow the format that has been seen many times before. A locked door requires the correct key, pushing switches activates interactive objects and moving platforms must be negotiated to pass over hazardous areas. This continues throughout the game and the tasks become more of nuisance value than thought provoking

The enemies are a wide range of suspicious looking characters who fight in a style that compliments their appearance. Noblemen move into a raised fist stance and offer a fair fight according to Queensbury rules. Japanese businessmen dressed in immaculate suits throw caution to the wind and really believe that they are Bruce Lee. Unshaven rogues strut around dressed in jeans and Caribbean shirts, ready to rumble. Creatures appear in various shapes and guises attacking from an angle that suits their size. If they are short and stumpy then they will duck and weave under your line of attack while the larger monsters will slam down their fists from above and attempt to pummel you into the ground. Unfortunately the fighting scenes are more of a chore than an enjoyable experience and even the toughest bosses can be defeated by sticking a foot out while in the crouch position.

When moving around the levels your character can jump in the air, kick open crates, punch down barriers and perform small actions such as clicking switches. When in fight mode he can side step, high and low kick, punch and acrobatically sweep the enemy off his feet.

Throughout the game Spawn will come across various power ups that appear in glowing orb form. Names such as Pyromantic and Necroplasmic may be mildly confusing but basically they will boost his striking power, increase his health or render him temporarily invisible.

Value for Money
There's not a great deal more to say about Spawn. You plod around the dingy settings collecting items and clicking switches before sooner or later you either enter fight mode or switch off and do something more worthwhile. I suggest you rent this title before you buy.

GRAPHICS: 13/20 The main character reminded me of those masked wrestlers who take part in the TV charade that poses as a sport. In fact I would rather watch televised wrestling than play Spawn through to the very end.
SOUND: 7/10
VALUE: 14/20

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