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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Acclaim

 

Developer

Acclaim

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

February 2002

 

 

- Great environments

- Gritty mature storyline

- Graphical upgrade from original

- Nice combat system

 

 

- Imperfect framerate

- Long load times

- Unbalanced game play at times

 

 

Review: Shinobi (Playstation 2)

Review: Dynasty Warriors 3 (Playstation 2)

Review: MDK 2: Armageddon (Playstation 2)

 

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Shadowman: 2econd Coming

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

The first installment to the Acclaim series, Shadowman, had the advantage of a world without many comprehensive, dark, 3-D adventures, especially not on Dreamcast and N64. But now, in this tri-console world, it’s hard for the brilliance of the series to step out of the shadows of the other more popular adventure titles and into the limelight. In story, concept and atmosphere, Shadowman brings new depths of filth and murk to the game world. Even the game play at times is inspiring. But ultimately, its lack of real innovation and franchise recognition holds it back yet in the end it’s very worth the trip.

 

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Utilizing one of the most worn and stale cliché’s of the game world the Shadowman: 2econd Coming begins as the Grigori, a band of demons from hell are working to resurrect their leader Asmodeus. Shadowman and Mike obviously need to stop them. Mike and Shadowman are the same person – Shadowman is who Mike becomes after a certain hour of the day. Very believable cut scenes and great cinematic voice acting narrate the game. Mike LeRoi is a gritty criminal turned hero and it shows. The vulgar comedy never seems to be too excessive and it enhances an atmosphere that would seem incomplete without it.

 

2econd Coming is a definite graphical upgrade from the first installment although it employs the same style of scenery and design to be consistent. Enemy animation has also been improved with much better animation and detail. Subtracting from the upgrade is the slow framerate and lengthy load times. Much like in the first game, Mike travels through monasteries, caves, sadistic structures and various levels of Hell. There never seems to be a shortage of interesting environments to gawk at - twisted roads, dark, eerie stairways and volumetric fog complete a comic book-ish horror feel.

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This time the game seems to incorporate the story into the game play much more seamlessly. Every area you complete is relevant in some way. Instead of simply traversing an area to get from point A to B the player performs many consistent functions and pieces of the story come together constantly. There also seem to be less random enemies than in the first game and the enemies are placed more realistically.

 

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There are plenty of power ups scattered around the levels along with many nice surprises in the gameplay that include interesting camera angles, gunfights and cool advancement techniques. In some spots, the puzzles are not matched very well with the abilities of the game character. In one area, the player is forced to maneuver Shadowman along a thin ledge across the center of a room in a short amount of time yet the imprecision of the analog stick makes it nearly impossible and unbelievably frustrating.

 

Complementing the game drastically is the revised gun weapon/item system. Mike/Shadowman can carry two weapons at a time – one in each hand. There can also be one weapon/item on reserve from the inventory for quick changing. Each hand (and associated weapon) can be used with the right and left shoulder buttons making it extremely efficient. The auto-aim feature is a nice addition making it easier to target off screen and hidden enemies. The camera control is also top notch as the direction pad controls distance and the right analog stick pans around.

 

Shadowman is best experienced with headphones. The levels are layered with densely designed, cinematic horror movie orchestration and grotesque, disturbing sounds. Beyond the fact that Mamma Nettie, Mike’s voodoo priestess friend, seems to have lost her accent, the voice acting and sounds are just about as solid as they come.

 

Shadowman most likely won’t catch the eyes and ears of most gamers with it's seedy, spooky content, racy themes and dark, moody environments but this more polished installment should solidify its spot among next generation adventure games. One of the best things the game has going for it is it’s atmosphere and story – the gameplay doesn’t bring much more to the table than what we’ve already seen. Yet, while it’s not the revolution, it’s definitely a riot and worth checking out even for the art of it.

 

- Doug Flowe

(June 19, 2002)

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