Game Review: “Spawn: Armageddon”

  Adaptations haven’t ever been able to do much justice for Todd McFarlane’s Spawn comic-book series. The film released in 1997 garnered reasonable infamy and while the animated series did reasonably well, the last couple of times they tried at making a video-game adaptation for the character, it left a lot to be desired. Spawn: Armageddon is a video-game released in 2003 for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube video game consoles. The video-game was inspired by the first ninety-nine issues of Spawn, and it had Todd McFarlane directing the game’s production. I approached Spawn with a lot of excitement and I had been wanting to play it for a very long time. I didn’t necessarily expect for it to be a classic, but I expected it to offer an enjoyable enough storyline propelled by fast and stylish fighting mechanics.

    Everything felt in-order when I first started playing, with a soundtrack composed predominantly by Marilyn Manson to set the mood, and a small series of flashbacks to set us on our way. Everything doesn’t exactly work out too well after that though. The graphics and scenery certainly carry elements of inspirations and aspects obviously derivative of its comic-book counterpart, but they aren’t exactly enticing. Whether it’s because of attention to detail or a lack of strong, reasonable exploration is anyone’s guess, but at least there are some moments that are more visually appealing than others. I wouldn’t even refer to the graphics or visuals as bad, but from the cover artwork and the illustrations that we have seen from the comic-books, I expected something less run of the mill. 

The story-line doesn’t have anything much to say for itself either. I can appreciate the inspiration that it takes from the comic-books and while it finds a lot of plot elements from the comic-book, it’s the presentation that makes it all seem a little difficult for me to enjoy. I find myself drawing a comparison to Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. In that, Blackgate was never meant to come across as another great chapter in the Arkham franchise, but was more like a companion-piece to their honest attempt, Batman: Arkham Origins. Comparing Blackgate and Armageddon might seem like a strange or bizarre decision, but the conclusion I come to is that Spawn: Armageddon doesn’t strive to be something that stands on its own. Instead, it depends heavily on the novelty of its own existence, and doesn’t try to flourish in any category beyond mediocrity.

    The game-play especially establishes this, because while the fighting mechanics aren’t necessarily terrible, they aren’t fun to work with at all. A lot of reviewers compared Spawn: Armageddon to the God of War video-game franchise because of its fighting mechanics, but that would be a very earnest compliment. God of War has fluent fighting that flows together and allows a vast repertoire of combos and different maneuvers. Armageddon’s fighting doesn’t work to the same satisfaction. The combos are lame, and the fighting feels slowed down and generic. There isn’t any variety to it either, and you’ll find yourself doing the same thing throughout the whole thing. You’ll fight some character, and after thirty minutes of doing that, you’ll accomplish defeating them in time to fight those same characters for another thirty repetitive minutes. The voice-acting is also badly done. Spawn feels like he’s just your everyday superhero fighting justice and thwarting evildoers that come in his path.

    I want to find something more to say about it that I haven’t already said, but there isn’t really much that’s noteworthy about it. Everything feels run-of-the-mil, like this was a generic, default title that had Spawn graphics painted over it. Most of it is done to the bare minimum, and what isn’t is because it doesn’t meet the threshold. The controls and fighting are bland and boring, and the game-play itself is too repetitive and tedious for that to be excused. And the parts that should have propelled it, the visuals and story, don’t measure up as anything more. The music’s nice though, if you like Marilyn Manson. I don’t have anything else really nice to say about Spawn: Armageddon though. If you wanted a video-game experience that measures up to the 1997 classic, here you go!

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.0