Review by shiva

"Do you feel like dividing someone in half?"

Spawn: in the Demon's Hand is a game in the lines of Power Stone 2: you are pitted in an arena against 3 enemies, and you have total liberty to go where you want to go, and to fight the way you want to. But these two games, apart from maybe this general concept, aren't very alike…

Starting on the content: where Power Stone 2 features anime-like characters fighting in a colourful stage, Spawn is more on the ‘gore' side; don't be surprised if, in one moment, your character's fine and, in the next, he's missing his upper body part. There's also some blood going on. Another major difference is the camera: in Power Stone 2, all the characters are displayed on a non-divided screen, unlike Spawn where a 3rd person camera follows every character. This works mainly well, following the action in front of your character closely, but if 4 humans play, the screen is divided in 4 parts, so you better have a large screen television around! Another difference is that Spawn replaces Power Stone 2's power stones (coloured gems that transform your character in a powerful alter ego) by some coloured orbs that can give you more attack, defense or speed. Finally, in Power Stone 2 you have a large life bar; when depleted, you lose. In Spawn, you have a short life bar (you can die in seconds), but you don't lose if you die, you get revived. I'll explain: Spawn: ITDH uses an original score-for-kills system. If you kill someone, you get 2 points. If you kill the character that has more points at the moment, you get 4. If you hit someone into a lava pit or out of the stage, you get 1 point. If you commit suicide, you lose 3 points. Spawn's battle system is simple: when the timer (that you can set to your liking in the ‘Options' menu) runs out, the character with the most points is declared the winner.

But the real stars of the show are the characters. Straight from the comic (which I don't know anything about) are initially available Spawn (duh), Al Simmons (Spawn's human form), Cogliostro, Jessica, the Clown, Reedeemer, Tremor, Tiffany, Grace, Sam, Twitch and Brimstone. These characters are so different and varied that they make including this game in a type a hard feat. Spawn seems to have come out of an fps, using mainly machine guns to attack. Al Simmons has a powerful three-way missile, among other powerful weaponry. Cogliostro has many special powers, like fire, lightning, homing plasma, and he can even heal himself. Jessica has great speed and two powerful pistols that can juggle the enemy like there's no tomorrow. The Clown has a homing missile blast that can kill in one go, among some other humorous weapons, like an extending glove; besides, he can turn (at the cost of his life bar) into Violator, a monster that rapes the enemies in fractions of seconds. Reedeemer has a sword-shaped hand, that can freeze or stone enemies or he can fire powerful blasts (sacrificing some hp); he's the only character that always gets a life up orb from every chest. Tremor has superhuman strength and can extend his arm very far away, or use it in instant death combos. Tiffany and Grace are quick close range fighters, that dominate the air with their air dash (Tiffany) and gliding (Grace). Sam has a powerful shotgun, and when his life bar is critical, can run like Sonic and use an instant death 2-hit punch. Twitch is a sniper, and can shoot enemies from strategic or far away places. Finally, there's Brimstone, that fights with close range weapons and can turn (at the cost of his life bar) into a more powerful version of himself, that throws fireballs and can perform an explosive attack so powerful that frequently kills all his 3 enemies. As you can see, these characters are varied and there's not a single clone; also, keep in mind that there are lots of others to unlock.

STORY – n/a – This game features an ‘fmv' intro and has individual endings for all the initial characters and some of the later. Sadly, my copy is Japanese, so I can't really tell what's going on. Who cares?

GAMEPLAY – 9/10 – The control, after getting used to it, is effective: one button attacks or uses the weapon you're currently holding, one other jumps, another changes the weapon and another repositions the camera behind your character (sometimes essential). You can also assign shortcuts to perform the special attacks of you character. The ‘cpu' is a good enemy, so you won't be bored if you play alone. “Why doesn't it get a ten?”, you ask? Due to the character balance. All the initial characters are balanced, but once you start unlocking bosses or flunkies in ‘Boss' mode, things get nasty. Gatekeeper can cut you in half with a simple attack, while Zombie has a hard time moving an inch (he can't even jump).

GRAPHICS – 9/10 – Graphically, the game couldn't get a lot better. The characters are detailed and you don't see a misplaced polygon in them. The stages are big, with lots of rooms you can enter, and the texture variety is heavy. Unfortunately, there are minor problems caused by the 3rd person point of view. You'll sometimes have a hard time against the air queens - Grace and Tiffany - since the 3rd person camera doesn't show the sky, so this pair can attack from upwards when you least expect. Thank God for the radar, which shows nearby characters, and some quick shooters, like Jessica, that help solving this problem.

AUDIO – 7/10 – The music is good, and reflects the dark tone of the comics well, but isn´t anything you'll write home about. The sound effects are varied, and each character has his/her own voice.

LASTABILITY – 10/10 – Practically infinite. The fun of dividing your friends in half never ends (and up to 4 people can do it simultaneously). And there are lots of characters to do it with. Besides, there are modes aplenty: ‘Arcade' mode, where you can play ‘Battle Royal' or ‘Team Battle' (2-on-2) takes on the game, and ‘Boss' mode. You also get ‘Tournament' mode, where you can play longer versions of the before mentioned modes. Also, there are extras: more than 20 characters waiting to be unlocked and an item collection to complete. You can also get character art by beating the ‘Tournament' mode. This department was carefully planned by Capcom.

THE FINAL QUESTION: should I buy this? I say ‘buy it!'. Spawn: ITDH is action packed, and you can play it with your friends for some of the biggest rumbles around. Even if you play alone there's a lot to distract you. I consider it fully deserves the 9 out of 10, and the only gripe I deem noteworthy is the (rarely) inept camera work. Now, go divide someone in half instead of wasting time reading reviews!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/27/02, Updated 04/10/05


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