previews\ Oct 19, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Spawn: Armageddon - XB - Preview 2

"My only memory is the burning of flesh ... Regret and hatred are all I am made of now, and yet I can remember - love."

Wanda was his wife, his love, and it was for her that he made a deal with the prince of hell. The man who was consumed by flame is reborn as a terrifying beast from the pit of darkness, and yet, somehow, he has retained his humanity. But for Spawn, the world he once knew, the woman he once loved, has turned from him. He is a walking demon, and in spite of his fate, compassion underscores his being. He is more or less alone, but he fights on for the species who fears him the most; he fights on for the memory of the love he can no longer touch.

Namco, Point of View, in conjunction with Todd McFarlane, has come up with a Spawn adventure that will certainly delight fans of the Todd McFarlane icon. Spawn Armageddon is a third-person adventure that will pit this antihero against forces that step outside the confines of convention.

GameZone was given an advance peek into this dark and foreboding world with a beta build for the Xbox.

It begins simply enough, a figure on a ledge high above the city, the tendrils of a red, shredded cloak splayed in the wind behind him. He turns and sees a glowing ball emanating from the heart of the city he looks over.

"What the hell was that?" A direct question, and somewhat apropos. But as Spawn is the only one who can see this menace, it befalls him to find out what is at work. All that stands between this danger and the world he watches over is are his wits, powers granted from the prince of hell and reflexes.

The irony is rather simple, for the uninformed, a creature of hell aiding humanity, uncontrolled by his master. But the evolving nature of the game will reveal more about this character, and treat players with terrific action.

The game does have many arcade-like features, which include power ups in the forms of necroplasm balls to heal powers and health. There is also blue soul orbs which can be collected and used to upgrade Spawn.

Hell fields appear in the city and Spawn can eliminate them by meeting the conditions which created them. In some instances, it may only be to use certain attacks against the demons spawned.

The control elements are rather simple in this title - B controls the axe attack (multiple taps will result in combination moves) in concert with the R button for a target lock. X will fire the weapon, Y is to use hell powers and L is to activate Spawn’s chains. A is to jump about the area.

The audio of the game is very nicely done . Spawn’s bassy gravel of a voice is wonderful, and the musical score keeps the action flowing.

Graphically this game has some semblance to a Legacy of Kain title in the glowing orbs, and the dark foreboding feel of the environments. The camera is rotatable but can bump into walls, at this stage of development, and inhibit the view. The path through the levels seems somewhat linear as well.

The three-dimensional world looks very good though, with great attention to details and the interplay of light and shadows. The animation is also remarkable. This is a game that is somewhat standard though in terms of fights. Lots of movement and grunts, lots of blood and lots of spawning opponents standing between you and the goal. The environments are somewhat interactive. And with three difficulty levels, this is a game that is certain to challenge players.

Spawn Armageddon is obviously playing off the popularity of the title character. Some of the action is typical of the genre, but there is also something rather compelling about this character and the battles he faces. Every facet of this game is going to McFarlane and his company, which means that the character, situations and response will be true to the original series.

This is a game that will appeal to action fans who don’t mind a little darkness sprinkled into the mix.

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