Voodoo, magic, the dark side… All perfect tenants on which to base a video game series. Shadow Man: 2econd Coming has all of these elements, as well as a fair amount of action to keep fans of the 3rd Person Action genre coming back for more. In Shadow Man 2, the player assumes the role of Mike LeRoi, alias Shadow Man, a character with the awesome responsibility of defending the world from the forces of darkness. Every evening, Mike shifts from human form to that of Shadow Man, a skeletal creature with voodoo powers. Sounds pretty far fetched, but it seems to work surprisingly well.
I am going to be honest and say that I never played the first Shadow Man. I heard many good things about it though, and was very willing to spend some quality time with its sequel. I was pleasantly surprised at times, disappointed at others, but overall, I quite enjoyed my Shadow Man 2 experience.
Shadow Man 2’s environments seem to not be as detailed as one expects from modern PS2 adventure games. The walls around you are quite jagged and crudely formed, there aren’t a large number of environmental objects, and textures don’t seem to be as detailed as one would expect from a modern PS2 game. Once you play the game for a while though, you realize how huge the levels are. Each level presents an entire world for you to explore and once you enter a level, there is never any load time. This massive depth helps to set the environment for Shadow Man 2 and I think in many ways helps to suck the player into the game completely.
You would expect a game with so many dark overtones to have an environment that reflected as much. Shadow Man 2 delivers with haunting rooms filled with blood, enemies that explode, and skulls littered about in appropriate areas. While some of it seemed to be a little overdone and obvious, there are several spooky moments throughout the game and overall, I thought the developers did quite a nice job.
Character models are pretty decent, but still seem a little bit primitive. The animation is quite good but once again, not groundbreaking. There are some nice touches though, such as Shadow Man’s chest glowing at night, which helps to illuminate your path. Weapon models are interesting with each weapon having a day/night counterpart which shifts along with Mike. There are various other lighting effects, including lens flares and flame halos. Overall, there is not much new to Shadow Man 2’s visuals, but the graphics go a long way towards setting the mood and captivating the player.
I keep using the word “spooky” but I feel that it’s very appropriate when examining this game. The music is very spooky. There isn’t much too it as far of depth goes, but it is ever present and is perfect for setting the mood. I really enjoy what the producer’s did with the music in this game and feel that other game houses producing this genre could pick up a few cues. The voice acting is excellent as well, and cutscenes are something to look forward to, irregardless of their horrendous loading times. Lines are delivered perfectly in character and the dialog is quite witty. I really enjoyed watching the story unfold.
There is a weak point to Shadow Man 2’s sound though, and that weakness is within the sound effects. The sound effects are somewhat blasé, with not a lot of depth or feeling. While not terrible, they are familiar and seem to be almost an afterthought. After the excellent voice acting and terrific musical score, I was honestly expecting a little more. Overall, the sound, like the graphics, is well done and well suited to this game.
Shadow Man 2 is your standard 3rd person adventure game and is a good example of the genre. Puzzles are a mix of switch, find, and move. There isn’t an emphasis on any particular type of puzzle and I really like the balance that the developers achieved. Control is intuitively laid out and my only gripe lies with aiming the sniper rifle, which involves both analog sticks functioning in a manner I found most unnatural. There also seemed to be a slight lag in control response, but I got used to it and the lag ceased to be a problem. One final control problem I noted had to do with equipping weapons. Normally it is pretty intuitive, but at times I found my weapons inaccessible and I would have to un-equip them and then re-equip them in order to use them again. This seemed more like a bug then the way that it should be.
There are a number of weapons to collect throughout the world and some of them are just too damn fun to use. The game is well developed in that the proper weapon for the job is always hidden right before you need it. It is just a matter of keeping your eyes peeled and seeking it out. Shadow Man 2 creates a lot of its puzzles through obscuring what the next goal may be. Cutscenes will clearly state the goals, but it is often difficult to find where you need to go within the massive levels. This normally would frustrate me but somehow the developer’s made navigating the levels intuitive and I only found myself lost when I stopped paying attention.
Shadow Man 2 possesses a very good story and as mentioned above, the cutscenes are full of wit and attitude. This game has a remarkable fusion between graphics, sound and story, and I think that is what kept sucking me in. I think that the developers went a long way towards getting Shadow Man 2 right.
While at times my feelings were mixed, I ended up feeling very satisfied with my Shadow Man 2 experience. The graphics and sound help to set the mood, and the story is quite good. There is a lot of good production behind this game, and while there are problems such as poor loading times and somewhat screwy controls, overall there is a lot of good to be found here. If you’re a fan of the 3rd person action genre, I would definitely pick this one up. Gamers who are looking for a good action game might also want to check it out, but in their case I would rent it first.