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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Infogrames

 

Developer

Atari

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Fall 2002

 

 

- Smooth framerate

- Looks just like a cartoon show, 40 minutes of cinematic action

- Should be a perfect game for pre-teens

- Interesting storyline...like interacting in a long cartoon show

 

 

- The game is so simple I felt dumber after playing the game

- Superman's full arsenal of moves isn't used in a wide enough of actions

- Too much button mashing

- Flying is like making Gabe from Syphon Filter run...it's loopy and long

 

 

Review: X-Men: Next Dimension (XBox)

Review: Spider-Man: The Movie (Playstation 2)

Review: Batman: Vengeance (Gamecube)

 

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Superman: Shadow of Apokolips

Score: 5.0 / 10

 

This is what I know about Superman and his relationship with video games; the last Superman video game, Superman64, might be one of the 10 worst games ever.  I remember only playing the game for a few hours, but the game was wrong in every way.  Aside from 64, I can't even name a Superman video game.  With that reputation hanging over the heads of Atari, the company went to work on Superman: Shadow of Apokolips on the Playstation 2.

 

superman-shadow-apokolips-1.jpg (24796 bytes)          superman-shadow-apokolips-2.jpg (30359 bytes)

 

The graphics in Superman are similar to the old Jet Grind Radio game for the Dreamcast.  The characters and the environments look like they are cut out from a cartoon and as a result the frame rate is very smooth.  The cut-scenes are like watching a cartoon show; the game box boasts over 40 minutes of cinematic sequences.

 

As a result of the abundance of cartoon characters and environments, the game has an extreme "kiddy" feel to it.  This theory is backed up by the game's simplicity.  There are 14 levels, but the first two are more or less tutorials for the rest of the game.  The remaining 12 levels provide little challenge to an experienced gamer.  I was able to polish off the game in about two hours over three sit-downs.  To add to the game's easiness, I never died! (Hey, Tim, he's Superman! -Omni)  This feat is not a testament of superior video game ability, but rather an example of how the game tailors itself to the typical "five-year old."  I'm sorry to admit, but your life bar refills over time.  Since there aren't many time limits, you can pretty much avoid everything and replenish your life.

 

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Even the game's tasks are simplified.  When you press start, most times the solution to the task is offered.

 

The gameplay results in a lot of button mashing.  The "x" button on my controller is permanently damaged because of my experiences with Superman due to the large amount of hand-to-hand combat and lifting and throwing.  There are some strength tests that the only objective is to press "x" as rapidly as you can.  It got so bad that I could apply the "when in 

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doubt, just bash the 'x' button" theory.  Unfortunately, I was able to complete the game by doing this, even with the sacrifice of a cramped thumb.

 

Superman has a panoramic ability while he flies through the air.  While I liked how the Man of Steel was able to interact with the ground (unlike in Spiderman's video game), flying can be an awkward task.  In the beginning levels when you have free reign over the city, flying is an easy task, but as early as the fourth level you have to save people from specific locations.  This was when I found flying to be a burden.  Making broad turns is not a problem, but having Superman make tight turns or maintain a certain height is very hard.  Sometimes the camera angle would fixate itself at a weird position.  Flying turned out to be a major pain in the ass, but at least it was fluid adventure.

 

Shadow of Apokolips, even though the game's attacks are simple, does have a variety of attacks available for Superman.  You are given a "super power energy" gauge that you use for breath blast, heat vision, speed dodge, super vision, x-ray vision, and super power moves.  Unfortunately the moves are only used specifically when they are needed.  I remember one incident where Superman needed to find out where noisy enemies were that could not be seen in normal sight; enter x-ray vision to look through walls to detect them.  I could see a lot of potential fun in Superman's abilities - use that x-ray vision to melt enemies or something - but what results is something similar to that old kid's game where you try to match up the shaped blocks and put them in their assigned holes.

 

superman-shadow-apokolips-3.jpg (28561 bytes)          superman-shadow-apokolips-4.jpg (26006 bytes)

 

Maybe I am missing something, but I was unable to find a different difficulty level.  This is a bummer because the game's shelf life could be enhanced if there was a bigger challenge.

 

Overall, Shadow of Apokolips is a much stronger effort than its predecessor; however, the game is still below average.  I am sure if I was much younger or a weak gamer, I would take more enjoyment in the game, but I was left with a challenge-less adventure.  I think Superman's biggest comic book rival on the video game format, Spiderman, has a big edge.  If you are older than 13 or 14, I would suggest going with Spiderman to get your comic book fix.

 

- Tim Martin

(December 1, 2002)

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