While I certainly think Jon raises some valid points about the flaws in Shadow Man: 2econd Coming, I think part of the reason that he disliked the game as much as he did stems from the fact that he went into the game expecting it to be something it isnt.
Whats arguably the most telling statement in the review is this one: "the various Louisiana settings and the thought of playing a game similar in its morbid ways to Silent Hill 2, or so I thought, are what initially drew me to this title." Jon apparently went into Shadow Man 2 expecting a survival horror game along the lines of Silent Hill—something that Shadow Man isnt and never will be.
As a big fan of the Dreamcast version of the original Shadow Man, I knew what to expect going in. And, for the most part, my expectations were met (although never actually exceeded, unfortunately). Shadow Man: 2econd Coming is an action adventure game with some supernatural trappings, sort of like Tomb Raider with a voodoo motif. Those expecting the moody atmosphere and thoughtful gameplay of Silent Hill will likely be disappointed because Shadow Man is more about action-oriented gameplay than atmosphere or puzzles. And unless youre looking for something along the lines of Silent Hill 2 as Jon was, thats not a bad thing.
This new version of Shadow Man plays a lot like the old one—the graphics have been upgraded (the character models look a little more realistic, although they still look like first generation Playstation 2 graphics) and the core gameplay tweaked (theres a wider variety of weapons this time around); but those who played through the first game will find that 2econd Coming is very familiar, flaws and all.
Load times are longer than usual, although not quite as frequent as Jon makes them seem. The game appears to load an entire area each time you enter it, meaning that while you stay in that area, theres minimal loading, but when you leave, the new area has to load entirely from the disc. The original game did the same thing, and truthfully, the load times on the Dreamcast version were worse.
I will completely agree with Jon about the sounds the game makes while in the Playstation 2—they were unlike anything Id ever heard before and a little scary. It sounds like the disc is giving the CD drive quite a workout. The Dreamcast version of the original was noisy, but this exceeds even that. Still, I played through the whole game and havent had any problems.
I tend to half agree about the merits of the games story. As Jon points out, the story often takes a backseat to the gameplay. In the latter stages of the game, theres almost no story at all. This is a change for the worse from the original, which was very story intensive. The story itself in 2econd Coming is fine (albeit not as dark as the one in the first game), but its the presentation that needs a little more work. I was also disappointed to see that interaction between Mike and recurring characters like Nettie and Jaunty was all but absent from this game.
I didnt find the controller layout to be nearly as much of an issue as Jon did. The sniper rifle does take some getting used to (the two analog stick control layout isnt the best idea, but it is workable with a little practice), but it doesnt ruin the game. You dont really have to use the sniper rifle all that often anyway. The two-fisted gunplay system isnt without its flaws (it seems all but impossible to target the same creature with both guns in a lot of instances), but none of this makes the game difficult.
Which brings me to my own personal beef with the game—its too easy. Shadow Man: 2econd Coming is incredibly easy when compared with the first game. Common enemies arent very challenging (unlike the Duppies and birds in the first game who were monsters that could easily take you out if you werent careful) and the bosses, while difficult, allow the player an endless stream of continues. Unlike other games, which would reset the boss health after a continue, 2econd Coming leaves the boss damaged while restoring you to full health—meaning that eventually, no matter how frequently you die, you will beat the boss. Personally, I like a little more challenge.
While Shadow Man: 2econd Coming certainly has its share of issues, I didnt find that any of them were so heinous as to saddle the game with a 2.0. This is an average game that doesnt bring anything new to the table, but will certainly please fans of the first game.
A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.
Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.
In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.