As someone who loves New Orleans and is intrigued by voodoo culture, I was very excited to play Shadow Man on my PC. The storyline -- an impending onslaught of evil headed by the biblical demon Legion and Jack the Ripper -- is a good one. When I first began playing, I was hoping the game play would live up to it.
Some gamers have called Shadow Man a dark version of N64 3D platform games like Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie. While I can see some similarities, Shadow Man is definitely its own game. The Shadow Man is constantly under attack. In the two aforementioned games, most of the enemies are perfectly happy to be left alone.
I found myself getting lost often as I made my way through Deadside. I almost gave up hope several times before finding a route to another stage. The time in Liveside is brief, but I had problems getting around there, too.
As with many 3D action/adventure games, you spend most of your time in Shadow Man searching for things. Your main objective is to find the dark souls, but your secondary objectives include finding weapons, opening passages from Deadside to Liveside, and killing as many zombies as you can. This can get very tedious, but I found myself returning to play the game many times.
One way I avoided extreme boredom was returning to places I had passed to grab items previously out of reach. With Shadow Man's teleportation ability, it's not a big deal to zip back to the places left behind.
Graphically, Shadow Man is good with a few flaws. The main characters -- Shadow Man, Mama Nettie, Jaunty, and Legion -- look amazing if not somewhat odd.
The Shadow Man himself is emaciated with a sunken stomach. Technically, he is a zombie, so I guess extreme thinness comes with the territory. The other main characters have looks that suit their personalities, and they are all well-designed.
The secondary characters in Shadow Man, however, are all cookie cutter creations. While there are several types of undead enemies in Deadside, they tend to segregate themselves from one another. So, you see the same enemies repeatedly during particular stages. Shadow Man has a diverse cast, but that diversity is unseen throughout most of the game.
Occasionally, I encountered brief freezes in game play coupled with sound glitches. The CD- ROM also had some trouble keeping up with some movie scenes in the game.
Shadow Man's sound is very eerie. The screams of aggressive zombies coupled with the whimpers and moans of the passive ones form a very depressing soundscape. Even if there was no profanity used in the game, I would not recommend it for young gamers. The sound alone is enough to cause psychological trauma.
I enjoyed playing Shadow Man, but I did find myself becoming tired of it. I found myself wanting to quit many times, but then I would find a new passage or item. I would decide to trudge forward. Because the game is so expansive and so complex, I found that the only way I could attack it was to play it in small chunks. I had to cut myself off at one hour of play time, save the game, and come back later. If I did not follow this schedule, my brain would go numb, and my enjoyment level crashed.
Although I played Shadow Man for well more than a week, I still think that I am nowhere near solving the game. Actually, I cannot even imagine finishing it. There are so many places to explore and so many enemies to kill that I cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Overall, Shadow Man is a good game that can get bogged down as any complex game can. Its replay value is very high, because there is a plethora of hidden goodies waiting to be found. If I keep attacking Shadow Man in small chunks, I might just solve it. For now, I am satisfied running, searching, and shooting.
Graphics: The graphic presentation is good with a few minor glitches. Many of the secondary characters are identical, while the main characters have their own style and look.
Sound: This game's sound is creepy! I would not recommend playing this game in front of your young relatives. It will probably give them nightmares.
Enjoyment: I had a good time playing Shadow Man, but I had to take breaks. There are so many hidden passages and items that it can be frustrating when you keep going into the same nooks, caves, and lakes.
Replay Value: There are so many hidden items in Shadow Man that it will never likely be completely explored.
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