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Superman: Shadow of Apokolips
PS2 Staff Review by Michael Brady

It is obvious that superhero games are increasing in popularity. With titles such as Spider-Man and Batman that have had great success on the PS2 console, it is not surprising that others will follow. Now we could all tell that it was only a matter of time until the Man of Steel himself would have a game of his own. With a great animated cartoon that is on television networks, it was expected that he would follow in the same footsteps as Spider-Man and Batman. In Superman Shadow of Apokolips, you control Superman; your goal is to rid Metropolis of the evil that consumes it. You must defeat the evil super villans Metallo, Livewire, Parasite, and you know the criminal mastermind Lex Luther will not be too far behind. Get ready comic book fans as we now have the chance to put on the blue and red tights ourselves and control one of the most powerful superheroes of all time!

Now with the power that the PS2 console has to offer, we as gamers demand great graphics in all our titles. The recent success of past superhero games can be attributed to the popular cartoon series that helped breathe life back into characters that have been once forgotten. The developers here have not missed a beat in terms of bringing the cartoon style graphics to Superman SOA; this game looks very close to its television counter part. The story line that is told through the help of cinematic sequences reflects the cartoon right down to the very last detail. Now cinema screens are great and all, but what do the in game graphics have to offer. Well, the in game graphics may not be exactly like the cartoon or the cinema screens, but they look fantastic. The city of Metropolis is a huge environment that we are able to travel through, and defend! The developers have done a great job by bringing the city to life. You are able to fly (of course) through the city and see the daily action that is taking place with its inhabitants. You are able to fly low to the street level or you may fly as high as the top of the Daily Planet newspaper building. It is great to see that the developers have been able to really let us gamers experience what it is like to actually be in a living city like Metropolis, great job guys! The character models in the game resemble the cartoon. They have used the ever-popular cell shading techniques to achieve the cartoonisque presentation. Trust me gamers, you will feel like you are playing the cartoon! Now with all the great animation that is present in this game there is some problems that are present. The frame rate seems to have been reduced in terms of Superman movement. When you interact with the enemies in hostile situations, Superman's moves appear to be very choppy. As you hit opponents there seems to be a miss in the moves as the collision is detected. The fighting does not seem realistic enough, even if it is a cartoon. They need to have the frame rate boosted up in order bring the entire cartoon fighting action to the game. Unfortunately, that is what is missing in this title.

The early information that was leaked out about Superman SOA promised to be a unique experience in terms of the control of the character. Think about it, to be able to control a character like Superman and perform his super power abilities sounds as if it would make for a great gaming experience. The developers have been able to deliver in this department. The controls are very user friendly, and the first part of the game is a tutorial that introduces the gaming audience to the powers those Superman posses. The L3 analog stick controls the movement on the ground for walking or running purposes. The R3 analog stick controls the flying movement. To punch is the X button, breath blast is the O button, heat vision is the triangle button, to dodge is the square button while moving, super vision is achieved with pressing the L2 button (first person view), and x-ray vision is used with the O button in first person view mode. As you can see there are many functions that can be done with the Dual shock PS2 joystick but they are easy to get accustomed to as you continue on you adventure. Although the controls are great in this title there is some loss in the translation to the on screen action due to the slight decrease in frame rate animation. This is where they lose some points due to this slight problem. However, it still makes for a great game.

The sound in this game does however needs improvement. The music in this title does set the mood for the Metropolis environment, but the sound effects are where it is evident that there could have been a rush job done here. I noticed that as I was punching through enemies I did not hear the damage that I was inflicting. How can you have a character like Superman at you finger tips, and not hear the great bashing and destruction that we have seen in the cartoon? Note to the developers; take more time to improve this area. There must be great sound in games of this genre because the action that is promised should be backed on the audio level. Unfortunately, this is where this game has lost marks big time.

The replay value of this title may not have most people running back to take a second spin, but the game is good and fans of Superman will want this for their collection. There are a lot of small items that can be gained through the completion of this game such as artwork and cinema movies, so that is something to look forward to. Nevertheless, it may be a rental compared to other superhero titles that have come before it. I must say that after over a year of development since the prior titles that have been mentioned, Superman SOA does not surpass them, but it does try hard to keep up. Despite its flaws, it is still a welcome addition to the superhero genre of games!

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