Shifters was clearly not given enough time in development, and it isn't fun to play as a result.
Shifters is the successor to 3DO's poorly received Warriors of Might and Magic, and this fact is immediately apparent in a number of ways. Its predecessor, which was among the PS2's earliest third-person action adventure games, was regarded as one of the system's worst games around the time of its launch. Sadly, Shifters doesn't fare much better. The game attempts to create huge, living game environments, and it tries its best to set you free in them with a character-development system that's versatile in theory and interestingly designed. But the fulfillment of both of these ambitions is unfortunately stymied by shoddy production values and half-baked game mechanics. As was the case with its predecessor, Shifters was clearly not given enough time in development, and it isn't fun to play as a result.
Remember Alleron from the original game? Maybe not, but he's back again, demonic mask and all, as the main character of Shifters. Though, in truth, you won't spend all that much time playing as him. The game's title refers to Alleron's ability to shape-shift into a variety of forms, both monstrous and fantastical--everything from savage beastmen and undead liches to weird extradimensional aliens and mechanized aberrations. These forms are grouped into six broad categories, each representing a basic type of creature: bestials, genies, undead, kreegan, hybrids, and automata. Bestials are basically animal men, genies include the common blue-skinned, bearded stereotypes, and the undead are ancient-Egyptian-style animated corpses. The last three are a bit stranger--the kreegan are extradimensional horrors, while the hybrids are half-human mechanoid monstrosities. Automata are basically steam-powered robots, ranging from weak, stilt-legged grunts to vicious, blade-armed killing machines.
Each of these "species" has four subforms, and accessing them requires allocating "form points" that you find scattered throughout the game's worlds. You'll start out as a "grunt" in each respective form, eventually evolving to a "shaman" and, finally, to either a "mage" or a "warlord." You're allowed to choose which form to take in the third phase, with the former emphasizing the species' magical abilities and the latter leaning toward physical combat. The way each of your forms looks actually changes as you evolve through a species' ranks, too. As a bestial grunt, you'll look like a brutish, ram-headed creature, though when you evolve into the warlord, you'll take the form of a proud, elephantine behemoth. Some species will have basic abilities that are unique to them--the undead, for instance, regenerate health over time and are immune to poisonous gas, while genies can assume a mist form that allows you to pass through gated barriers. Each subform, further, grants you new spell-like abilities, most of which are straightforwardly offensive and some of which you combat bonuses. Still others have more abstract--and, more often than not, only partially functional--effects.
Some of the forms you can transform into actually look rather cool, and the abilities unique to them can seem quite distinct, at times. And the whole idea of shape-shifting seems like a good one. But this is all cheapened by one key fact--throughout the game, the enemies you'll encounter will actually be the very same creatures that you can morph into. You'll fight bestials of all forms in the first world, while undead, genies, and kreegan will reign supreme in the second. The last will have you battling it out with hybrids and automata, but by then, it will all have gotten old long ago. It will seem to you at first that hordes of unique creatures are attacking you from all sides, but the reality of the situation soon sinks in, as you'll find yourself fighting the same monsters over and over. You'll find the enemies casting the very same spells at you that you yourself can cast at them, though their physical attacks are much simpler than yours. The AI for these creatures is sometimes laughable, as you'll find enemies stuck running into corners and doing all sorts of other brain-dead things.