Shadows of the Damned takes a familiar character type, the demon hunter, and sends him on a tour of hell. Nothing original there, although this may be the most stomach-turning vision of hell ever. And we mean that literally, since the streets are filled with stomachs and livers, and intestines, and other organs.
The demon hunter, named Garcia Hotspur, is accompanied by Johnson, a floating skull that can transform into a variety of firearms. In each level, you're attacked by waves of junior demons, most of whom can be dispatched with a few rounds.
You're then escorted into a duel with a much larger monster. Unfortunately, most of these "boss fights" boil down to the same technique: Find the enemy's weak spot (which is conveniently glowing red) and plug it again and again.
The combat is broken up by puzzles based on light and dark. The demons thrive on darkness, so if you can switch on the lights (by shooting a laughing goat head), they'll disperse. But sometimes, Hotspur cannot hit a target unless he's surrounded by darkness, which is a problem, since it eats away at his health.
Shadows does have some witty touches, including cleverly designed boss monsters who combine flesh, machinery and architecture. And Akira Yamaoka's soundtrack, ranging from industrial rock to inappropriately bouncy lite jazz, is wonderful.
RATING M for Mature
PLOT Time to kill the demons
DETAILS Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, $60
BOTTOM LINE Initially impressive