SHORT REVIEW (SINGLE PLAYER ONLY): PC VERSION
Did any of you kindly upstanding people play the Shadow Warrior reboot a few years ago? It was pretty good. Before Nu-Doom stole all the party poppers and set off a one man conga line, 2013’s Shadow Warrior showed just how fun a simple ol’ fashioned gore em’ up could be. Who doesn’t like chopping demons into itty-bitty bits at top speed? Incidentally I’ve now retired the term “Nu-Doom”, so let’s not use that ever again. Ever.
So, review of a sequel ‘ey? How long before we fall deep into clichés and references to the original game…. Let’s try to avoid that, right? Right?
At the end of the day, if you enjoyed Shadow Warrior, you’d love this.
Cheap jokes are pretty subjective and Shadow Warrior absolutely loves ’em. I’m happy to report that inhabiting the body of “Lo Wang” the Ninja is pretty fun, even if you’ll groan as much as you’ll laugh. I quite like the quips and characters, you might not. The game embraces the inherent nonsense of the first person shooter power fantasy. You won’t find chest high walls to hide behind or real physics restricting you to a diddy jumps. What you will find is swift, unlimited dash moves, an excellent double jump and the ability to really feel like you are a Ninja in a virtual slaughter playpen.
The levels outside of specific story moments are randomly generated, which is a feat of engineering, as they look fantastic and are seamlessly lego’d together. This change from the linear to open world is as deep as a modest hub world. It’s populated with NPC’s to nab side quests from, with the ability to warp directly into an all-action missions, so no aimless traversal nonsense. It’s mostly inoffensive, unlike Wang’s filthy, filthy mouth. The missions and story again embrace the utter nonsense of the first person shooter power fantasy, it all fits together nicely. Fuck off ludonarrative dissonance arguments, you’re not welcome here!
Sincere apology – I apologise for reminding you of the term “ludonarrative dissonance” and I’m glad the gaming media has stopped banging on about it, as they mumble in vape-smoke-filled jazz cafes, wearing turtleneck jumpers. Let’s hope we consign this argument deep into the wells of history and get back to murdering things for fun. Remember fun?
The action is fast and bloody as enemies explode with each murderous sword swipe. You don’t just wield standard swords and shotguns. Chainsaws, strange claw-thingys, bone machine guns, grenade launchers and who knows what else are on offer to either collect or purchase. Bigger and better in this sequel means a huge selection of weapons with levels which could, theoretically, be played over and over again. Now, gunplay in Shadow Warrior could be considered a little “loose”. The games bloody fast and the guns are pretty generous when smacking the enemy with bullets… Some purists might not appreciate this, but I didn’t mind in the slightest, but hey, fair warning right!
Cliché – Bigger doesn’t always mean better.
I’m not convinced randomly generated areas are better then hand crafted levels that have been specially designed to thrill, shock and excite. I will concede that Shadow Warrior comes very bloody close to cracking that magic code. There are jumping pads, bosses, pickups and none of it feels broken, out of place or simple. As you snoop around the varied, pretty environments you’ll come across the same ol’ buildings and landmarks, but that’s to be expected and quite honestly, what are you doing looking at them? C’mon now, get on with the shooting and flailing around like a loon.
You can also upgrade and personalise the hundreds of guns and swords in your arsenal. For example you could make a toxic pistol with a charge shot or a fire chainsaw. Mental note, must buy a fire chainsaw. In the heat of battle it’s easy to forget Wang himself has magic ninja abilities, much like the guns you can upgrade your Wa – no. No more dick jokes. Let’s just say Ninja magic is fun. It generally allows you to toy with your prey, heal or bring much needed respite when things get too heated.
Now the upgrade system is where the design falters just a tad. Shadow Warrior 2 is a very silly game and that’s great, but collecting a million useless gun and armour upgrades each level quickly becomes busywork. That’s the wrong type of silly. Each weapon only has 3 upgrade slots and you can only equip so many weapons on your selection wheel at any one time. Yes, you can ignore it. You don’t need to piss around in an inventory screen. You might enjoy the downtime from such frantic action by looking through your shiny gun collection and perks. Some people could find this potentially overwhelming or tedious. Not all of us love hot menu action. Quick note, an upgrade should never include red minus points making your weapons worse… Urgh. Now that ladies and gentleman, is a personal nitpick™.
Cliché time – Sometimes less is more.
Enemies are varied and interesting. Small insect sods swarm you, flying robotic sods are a bother, big idiot demons with swords make you think twice. All of them requiring different tactics, all of them falling to bits as you rake them with gunfire. It’s always a pleasure to hit your foe with a well placed arrow shot to the knackers, especially when invisible, or those tender moments when you get to sit back and watch an explosive chain reaction wipe out a group of happy demon friends. Hey do you remember when these games had dead bodies that eventually disappeared into the ether? Not in Shadow Warrior, as we get to wade through piles of ex-demon. What joy!
Cliché moment – It’s the little things that count.
Please note I’ve no interested in playing with other people so I’ve not bothered with the 4 player co-op thingy. Between the multiplayer and randomly generated levels Shadow Warrior 2 could be rather re-playable. Not for myself though. There’s only so much first person shooting I could take before retiring into my comfy chair to play something soothing, like a nice slow turn based something or other.
Swords, Shotguns and Slong’s. If you like that type of thing, you can’t go wrong.
Shadow Warrior is a slick shooting experience, and much like a noble Ninja cliché “knows itself”.
Wait… why isn’t it an 9? Consult the score guide young one, oh yes, you must consult.
Also 8 isn’t a bad score.