Review By: J.
ago Acclaim had a sleeper-hit on their hands in Shadow Man,
a dark, gritty 3rd person action-adventure title
based on the equally dark and gritty comic book. Shadow Man
struck a fresh cord with critics and gamers alike who had all
but lost faith in the genre after years of uninspired efforts.
The game showed that a 3rd person adventure title
could have both a fresh vision and an engaging story, two
traits lacking in the genre since it was virtually created by Tomb
Raider. Since than weíve had a number of titles expand on
that concept (MDK 2, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, American McGeeís
Alice), but none have managed to match Shadow Manís
grim and adult style of storytelling. Well, Acclaim is ready to
give the gaming world a second helping of the Shadow Man in Shadow
Man: 2econd Coming, but with so much to live up to, can this
sequel find a new audience on the PS2 and please fans at
the same time? Well, move over Hendrix, thereís a new
"Voodoo Child" in town.
Based on a
comic that followed the exploits of one Mike LeRoi, hitman
turned voodoo powered protector of the mortal realm; Shadow
Man 2 picks up right after the first game left off. With the
destruction of the ĎDark Engineí, a soul powered doodad
threatening to destroy our world, Mike and his undead alter-ego
the Shadow Man set out for a little R&R in his
home-away-from-home the "place where everyone goes, without
exception, when they die", better known as "Deadside".
After returning home from his vacation, Mike discovers his
native New Orleans deserted, and an eerie calm over the town.
After some quick investigating he discovers that a powerful evil
is about to emerge from the bowls of Deadside, fulfilling so
many ancient prophecies and bringing forth the end of the world.
And just when I was getting to like the place! Along the way
Mike will discover that all is not what it seems, and that all
his allies are not as honest as they appear.
story of SM2C isnít the most original out there, it is
told so convincingly and so surprisingly well that it almost
seems new. Graphic violence, mature content, the occult, and
Biblical end-time prophecies havenít been combined this well
since Foxís short live masterpiece Millennium. This
grim setting and mature style of storytelling is by far the gameís
biggest strength. Rife with profanity and nightmarish imagery, SM2C
is definitely not something to buy for little Billy and is
targeted more towards the audience that found Twisted Metal
Black right up their alley. Unlike TMB, however, Shadow
Man 2ís story is told completely through in-game cut
scenes and pre-recorded dialogue.
voice acting present in Shadow Man 2 isnít quite up to
the level of quality of Blood Omen 2 or Metal
Gear Solid 2, it doesnít have to be. Exchanges between
characters are kept short and sweet and cut-scenes are
integrated quite seamlessly into the action. Also neither Mike
nor the Shadow Man have the flare for melodramatic hyperbole
that fellow undead anti-heroes like Raziel or Kain have. Thatís
because theyíd rather let their guns do all the talking, and
often do. And although other characters tend to get a little
long-winded when explaining the meaning of some newfound
mystical artifact or the origins of a tattered piece of ancient
text, Mike/Shadow Manís "Why should I care? Just give me
something to kill" attitude keeps the game from feeling
like it takes itís own mythology too seriously, which is
definitely a problem that the Legacy of Kain series has.
Of all thatís
been said about the voice acting, probably the biggest
complement I could give it is that of the many accents in the
game, none come off as "faked". Believable accents are
definitely a minority in gaming, and when dealing with such
oft-butchered accents as the "island", southern, and
Irish accents, among others, it is a blessing that Acclaim has
managed to get them right and do them justice.
misstep in the dialogue is the profanity, which often sounds
stiff and forced and doesnít add much at all to the story. It
almost seems as if someone went through with a pencil and throw
it in at random after the success of the vulgar smash hit, Grand
Theft Auto 3. While it doesnít take much away from the
game, it comes off as a gimmick, which this game totally doesnít
need. It is strong enough to stand on itís own without the use
of such a cheap ploy.
manage to get the rest of SM2Cís sound design right.
From the moment you turn the game on youíll notice how great
everything sounds. In fact, Shadow Man 2econd Coming is
one of the best sounding games to ever be released on the
system. This game isnít heard; itís experienced. Itís not
just that the score, at times a bit Castlevania:
Symphony of the Night and at others a bit Quake,
fits the mood of the gameís settings perfectly, or that the
effects sound so rich and realistic that youíll swear it was
happening in the living room with you, or that the ambient
background noises like crickets chirping at night, frogs
croaking in the bayous, and tortured moans and haunting whispers
of Gehenna bring each area to life, oh no, itís not just
those, but how they all come together. The juxtaposition of so
many sounds creates an aural experience that, at times, can
rival even Fatal Frame for creating an atmosphere thick
with fear and foreboding.
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