Spawn the Eternal is one of the worst games ever to shame the PlayStation with its presence. From glaring graphical oversights, to camera angles that make it impossible to see what you're doing, to poor control, to utterly tedious level design, the game seems to have been thrown together in a matter of minutes. That might be overstating the developer's efforts, however. Essentially what you have here is an attempt to merge 3D adventure gaming with Battle Arena Toshinden-level faux 3D fighting. The result is an awkward flop with lousy control and tedious searching in the adventure area, tacked onto a sluggish, weak fighting game with lame combos and uninteresting magic attacks.
Graphically hideous and extremely pixelated, Spawn the Eternal suffers from countless visual bugs. Pop-up abounds. Walls disappear and reappear randomly and constantly, as well as bending noticeably whenever they scroll by. Trash cans, boxes, and other distracting clutter are entirely permeable, especially during fight scenes, where you often find yourself pushing your opponent back through a wall or standing with a bench where your knees should be. Look up at the ceiling and there's a fifty-fifty chance you'll see right through it to the (obviously seamed) sky above. Beyond all the errors though, everything just looks terrible. The texture mapping is so busy (and ugly) that it's difficult to see the characters against the backgrounds, on top of just being plain hard to look at for more than a few minutes at a time.
Difficulty with camera angles has always been one of the worst shortcomings of 3D gaming in general. Well, with Spawn, those shortcomings just got worse. As you walk through alleyways and corridors, the camera is consistently changing too late to be of any use. You're always forced to think ahead a few steps and imagine or remember which way your path is turning because the camera is never in the right place to show it to you. Sometimes it gets so screwed up and turned around that you're stuck looking at Spawn head-on and can't see where you're going at all. This is especially annoying because the controls, in turn, get all turned around. You have to push the D-pad up in order to make Spawn move forward, toward the camera (which feels completely wrong) - remember, you have no idea where you're going when this happens, you're just looking at the guy's ugly mug - until he passes the camera and it spins around again.
All of these problems serve to debilitate the already feeble control. Gameplay has never felt quite so geriatric. Response is always delayed. Turning while running is so loose, it's almost impossible to get where you're going without running into stuff. Just walking through an open door is difficult. And forget about opening doors with switches on them. Lining the guy up with the switch and waiting for the painfully slow animation of reaching up to push the button and having him miss? Come on. At least offer generous hit detection on switches. Spawn's fighting engine sets a new precedent for poor response. Hits always come late, moves are jerky, and combos are weak. You can't even jump. His trademark Cape and Chain attacks are ineffectual and look plain silly. It's embarrassing, really. Spawn the big warrior guy from hell plays more like an invalid in need of morphine and a walker.
Perhaps some ground could be recovered if the game had an awesome plot or interesting level design or some interesting goals. Nope. What you're faced with here is level after level spent in a tedious stupor, just walking around, looking for dudes to fight, and fighting them, followed by walking around, looking for more dudes. Level design essentially amounts to (surprise!) different-looking dudes. The only twist comes when you're forced to spend time aimlessly searching for a key or just looking for something else to do when the level seems complete but doesn't end, becoming ever more hopeless and boring. There is no escape, only a growing sense of claustrophobia caused by these boring, ugly worlds.
There are no saving graces to this game. It's an adventure game with no story tacked onto a substandard but generic fighting game. You get the sense that the designers wrote this during their coffee breaks while they were working on something else. And not too many coffee breaks, either. It's just buggy, sloppy, and tedious. Then again, the list of unplayable comic and movie licenses is a long one. Perhaps we should have learned to avoid them by now. If only the game companies would.