Spawn Hands-On Impressions

Todd McFarlane's breakthrough creation lands on the Dreamcast with guns blazing and chains whipping.

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If you're like me, chances are you've heard of Spawn and how it took Todd McFarlane from an underpaid artist on Marvel's product line to one of the richest comic artists in the world. After an animated television show, scores of comics and a full-length feature movie, Spawn is heading to the Dreamcast. Essentially a deathmatch game with a few other modes thrown in for up to four players, gamers can pick one of Spawn's many incarnations and several of his allies or foes (Sam, Twitch, Clown, Violator, etc) and then run around the darkened alleys of the city with weapons, killing one another. Oddly, the graphics aren't nearly as crisp as the arcade title - very strange indeed, considering that so many of Sega's recent Dreamcast titles exceed their arcade counterparts. The graphics are dark and dirty, and understanding what's going on (even in a full screen, let alone a quarter) takes a considerable amount of effort. Powerups abound (speed, defense, weapons, etc.), but the gameplay basically comes down to who's got the bigger gun and who's behind whom. While Capcom is known for its fighting games, its only previous forays into first person shooting are Resident Evil: Survivor and the sub-game mode in Resident Evil: Code Veronica. Though it's a noble effort, Spawn doesn't come close to the technical brilliance that is found in current titles like Unreal Tournament or Quake 3. There's just a sense that something is missing - the game never really gels. You grab a gun and you die, you jump up a platform and you die, you shoot someone else and you die. Fans of the comic will probably appreciate the game nonetheless, and though some of the modes support Power Stone type camera work with all players on the screen at once, though the unintuitive first person mode seems to be at its heart.

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