I seem to have been playing a spate of ultra-violent games recently and Shadow Warrior 2 is no exception. So many games take up an ultra-serious tone, but Shadow Warrior 2 is the family photo equivalent of; ‘let’s do a silly one.’ And just like when your stern aunty suddenly busts out a dab, it feels a little awkward. Funny, but awkward.
Shadow Warrior 2 is going to be divisive. Either you’re someone who really, REALLY likes dick jokes…sorry, Wang jokes, or the main character Lo-Wang’s (see it’s started already) snappy wise cracking is going to tilt you. Imagine if Señor Chang from Community had his own video game and you’ll be someway to where Shadow Warrior 2 lives.
It’s has been touted as an FPS with a dash of Diablo and is a direct sequel to the original from 2013, which in turn was a reboot of the 1997 title. I remember playing this as a lad, and at that time it was considered risqué and somewhat naughty. I appreciated the tongue in cheek humour and throwbacks to elements that made the original game edgy 19 years ago, but now, in 2016 ‘Oriental Duke Nukem’ just feels a little cringeworthy.
So the tone is hit and miss, but what I’m going to positively rave about is the combat and loot systems. The way combat flows is impressive. Double jumping, and dashing mid-air with a pump action shotgun then effortlessly switching to a Katana is violently joyful. Lo-Wang has a variety of special attacks that are performed using different keyboard combinations including whirlwinds that damage multiple enemies and piercing strikes that deal extra damage. Pulling these moves off mid combo was rather effortless, which ultimately felt incredibly satisfying. It’s not just that these moves look good or help to keep combat interesting, the acrobatics are critical in keeping Lo-Wang alive. This forces players to be invested in all aspects of combat rather than simply shooting everything to death.
The loot and level system is integral to the way you’ll play. For example, oriental themed charms can be applied to weapons for extra stats and effects. At one I point had a +5 shotgun with flame damage. However, while the charms make a big deal about the bonuses I didn’t really see much of a change. Regarding character progression, Lo-Wang is able to put skill points into a variety of abilities to tailor to your play style. If you like slashing enemies up with your sword, put points into it. If you prefer using guns the bump that up. The choice is yours.
The visuals of the world in Shadow Warrior 2 made me sit up and take notice. The game takes place in a beautifully rendered and diverse world including a Japanese temple and a futuristic city.
The UI and menus are very bold and definitely have a sharp Japanese art influence with a stylised comic book twist and was definitely something I enjoyed looking at.
Unfortunately character models, while not terrible, certainly detract from the overall aesthetic and feel more than a few years old. A little boxy and flat with basic animations, they especially fall down in the lengthy cut scenes. The same could be said about the enemies. After several shots some of them just slump in place while others get carved apart with body parts strewn all over the shop.
You’ll either love or hate Shadow Warrior 2. It’s throw away humour will appeal to some, but others will find it puerile. If you’re into it you’ll have a great time. If you merely tolerate the humour, but are into blowing stuff up and collecting some loot, then you can certainly kill a few hours easily.
Game Title: Shadow Warrior 2
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