Men of Steel and other substances
When I was a kid I often dreamed of being a super hero and I know I was not alone. Especially Superman, the secret identity of Clark Kent, was always among my favourites. The ability to fly, super strength, super hearing, x-ray vision, built-in laser view and invincibility ? what more can you ask for? I always had a problem with the tights though?
All these features on the other hand made it hard to bring a decent version of Superman to games until now. Of course there were a few games, mostly for big Arcade machines and a game for N64 which most gamers would love to erase from their memory but not even one of them ever offered ?the real thing?. No flying around, limited super powers or terrible controls.
Superman: Shadow of Apokolips comes to the rescue - sort of. It is far from perfect but the best Superman game up to now.
The animated series
Shadow of Apokolips is based on the animated series which aired in the last years in most countries. To tell the truth I have only seen 4 or perhaps 5 episodes but that was enough to get a general idea of what to expect. An evil overlord form a parallel universe is seeking to conquer / destroy earth (I think his objectives change while the series continue) and to succeed his army of robots carries out lots and lots of evil things. And of course you, Superman, have to stop them.
And since the game is based on an animated series what graphics engine awaits us? Yes cell-shading! Starting a controversy (again) about pros and cons of cell shading is not the objective of this review. Let me only say this: while I?m actually no fan of cell shading, I agree that they are the best to bring comics to life and Superman is no different there.
While the levels are huge and you can explore them with your flying powers, there are invisible borders which you cannot pass, so only parts of e.g. the city of metropolis can be explored. Also a little frustrating from the graphical point of view is the lack of details in the levels and above all that you only get to fight robots from the beginning till the end. Taking in credit of the hundreds of thugs and criminals featured in the series this is a little disappointing.
Too many powers?
With the variety of superpowers Superman has, an intuitive control interface is a must in order to control him properly. In Shadow of Apokolips the developers did a surprisingly good job. While it takes a while to get used to the controls you will soon get the hang of it. Almost all super powers were included, although some e.g. x-ray vision are used only seldom. Flying is the most important of your powers of course and the most fun too. Where gameplay lacks a little, is in variety. Most missions are limited to a ?save that person from that robot? objective and there are only a few exceptions, like a ?stealth level? early in the game where you play as Clark Kent and may not use most of your super powers (?I cannot fly without my cape?).
While the background music is limited to only a few tracks, the voice talents from the show lend their voices to the game characters, so die hard fans of the series will enjoy the game even more.
Almost a super game for Superman
The game is about Superman and for some players this is already enough. While the game has its flaws, the atmosphere resembles the series very well, and if you want to be Superman for a day don?t wait any longer and get it.