Insert witty voodoo pun here - Review By Gameslave
You are Mike Leroi- shadow warrior and walker between the living and the dead. This game relies on a dark theme combined with a third person / platform style. Mix in voodoo and you get Shadow Man. Your mission is to travel between Liveside and Deadside, and save the world by taking out Legion and his team of vicious serial killers. You'll engage evil in the form of lost souls, devil dogs, and smoking ham. You'll visit such locales as the Temple of Blood and the Louisiana swamplands. You'll find mysterious artifacts like teddy bears, skulls, and even tattoos that grant you new voodoo powers. You'll wield weapons of destruction such as uzis and the asson, a human skull and backbone which fires burning voodoo skulls at your enemies. With a lot of ground to cover, a plethora of evil to combat, and voodoo powers to harness, the Dreamcast gets its first 3d action adventure.
Shadowman's big sell is the mysterious voodoo element; there's lots of soul stealing carnage and stalking of criminals in two seperate worlds (similar to LoK: Soul Reaver). Of course, if a game wants to be good it must have solid gameplay. Like LoK, Shadowman's gameplay elements are a mixture of platform and 3rd person action adventure. It's all pretty standard stuff: run, jump, swim, climb, and find the switches that open new areas. If you have played games like Tomb Raider you will instantly notice the similarity. Thankfully it goes beyond that game, though. For example, one very cool feature is the ability to equip a separate weapon for each hand. You'll come across plenty of evil against which to use these weapons, including serial killer mini-bosses and of course the terrifying final boss, "Legion".
The worlds you must travel through are both dark and gloomy. Who'd have thought?
The game looks decent for Dreamcast standards, and the hi-res 60 fps graphics definitely out-do the N64 and especially Playstation versions. The environments are somewhat detailed, and decent polygon levels in the characters keep it from looking like "millennium material" The special effects are pure eye candy, especially the rays of light shooting out from an enemy as it's meetings its end. And the creepy music keeps the atmosphere thriving, and is a great example how good music can pull you into a game. Sound effects are also nice, and bits eerie crying and moaning keep it spooky. The voice acting is ok, but not comparable to the game's main competitor, LoK. The difference is night and day.
Shadowman isn't filled with a bunch of "the bad", but there's just not enough punch for the Dreamcast's standards. 128-bit power should produce lifelike visuals (check out Shenmue), and Shadowman could use. The story line is different although similar to Soul Reaver.
The control, unfortunately, has some issues. It just doesn't feel very tight. Sometimes you will get stuck on tiny polygons, and some much needed precision for jumping just isn't there. This can be especially frustrating if you fall off and find yourself having to replay the same area over again.
You won't know the meaning of pain until you've seen the game engine cut scenes.
The lock on feature doesn't always stay locked on to enemies, and this often makes killing simple enemies harder than it should be.
The "save anywhere feature" is nice, but it's quite annoying that you start at the very beginning when you load your game.
The menu interface takes getting used to.
As you train yourself to use the D-pad it gets easier. My biggest concern are the cut scenes. They are poorly done and detract from the whole experience. They look like they were designed for a first generation Playstation game, and not the Dreamcast. Compare Shadowman's realtime cutscenes to Capcom's Resident Evil's cut scenes and you'll see what I'm talking about. If you are gonna do realtime cut scenes, do 'em right, or just do video.
The Final Word
Shadowman offers a good filler game until the next batch of games hits your local store. Its a far cry from the likes of Resident Evil: Code Veronica or Tomb Raider:The Last Revelation (which are both coming soon). Shadowman isn't the next big thing for Dreamcast, but rent it, or try it at a friends house. See it for yourself. For now it's a decent time killer, but in a few months they will be third person adventure games that blow Shadowman away.
Genre: 3D Action/Adventure
Highs: Great atmosphere and music, best graphics of all console versions.
Lows: Loose control, problematic targetting, lame cutscenes.
Other: 1 player, VMU Compatible.
(out of a possible 10)
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