For the past few days, I was given the chance to enjoy Shadow Warrior 2 before it released on the PC platform. I’ll admit it right now I haven’t played the first title, Shadow Warrior, by developers Flying Wild Hog, a reboot to the 1997 video game of the same name. With that said, the game was still a bloody good time and one that I think would be worth the pickup.
As mentioned above, this was my first time diving into the Shadow Warrior franchise and even though I didn’t play the original or the reboot that released back in 2013, the sequel was still a blast to play through. Honestly, a quick read through of the first Shadow Warrior will serve you just fine when jumping into the sequel as having just a bit of prior knowledge will definitely help you out during the start Shadow Warrior 2.
Shadow Warrior 2 takes place five years after the events of Shadow Warrior and players will once again take on the role of Lo Wang a foul-mouthed assassin. I won’t spoil much of the story for you, but early on Lo Wang is set on a mission to retrieve Kamiko, a daughter of a criminal mastermind. The problem is, Kamiko works for Zilla, who you may remember from the previous installment.
Upon reaching Kamiko, Zilla has managed to corrupt her body and ultimately leaves Kamiko’s soul to be placed in the well being of your body. As the story progresses, players will once again hunt down Zilla and return Kamiko’s soul to her body.
Again, much of the story was straightforward and I didn’t feel like I was missing too much from not playing the first title, but there were characters that popped up that seemingly played some part within Shadow Warrior. Overall, the game’s story doesn’t take itself seriously, there’s plenty of immature jokes tossed in to get a laugh. Oftentimes, I found the protagonist, Lo Wang, to resemble Duke Nukem as Low Wang is a strong character full of himself and not afraid to make some crude remarks.
One of the features within the game is known as the “Wanglopedia” which gives a small, and often times a short pun or joke, insight description to the variety of enemies you come across. It’s within here that I wish the developers would have added characters and background information from the first installment. Knowing what part a character, good or bad, might have had when it came to the first installment would have been fantastic.
Visually, the game felt pretty much on-point. There were some texture issues that I personally ran into, characters slowly fading in and out after being slaughtered, a slight pop-in, and even points in which Low Wang raised his arm out only to show a floating hand. Although, I did receive my copy ahead of launch and during my time with the game, there were updates being placed so these texture problems may not be present at the game’s launch.
Throughout Shadow Warrior 2, players will be taken to a variety of landscapes and environments. There really was only one area that proved to be difficult during intense combat situations. When duking it out with a vast amount of demon enemies, the bright neon landscapes easily blended with the weapon fire and explosions. There were a number of times where I had to run back in order to see the broad picture of just what all I was up against. This certainly didn’t help when everything and anything will set my controller to vibrate, leaving me to constantly feel like I’m nearing death at any moment when in reality the explosion that triggered my controller vibration did not affected my character’s health in the slightest. Regardless, the firefight, explosions, melee combat, and vibration left me on the edge of my seat during any battle.
Combat mechanics was tight and really the highlight for me in Shadow Warrior 2. There are a ton of different weapons to choose from and you’ll find that you’ll constantly scroll through them mid-fight or replace them in your equipped weapons wheel. Additionally, there’s a plenty of different enhancements you can place on the weapons themselves which will essentially upgrade a few various aspects. If you’re going against enemies that are susceptible to fire then adding an enhancement that will deal fire damage may be ideal. If I could add one gripe here then I would bring up the fact that activating a scroll wheel to choose which weapon to equip does not slow down the actual gameplay. Unlike Doom, the action doesn’t let up, but on the flip side, there are some hotkeys to easily swap a few weapons at a time.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that Lo Wang will have an assortment of special abilities at his disposal. Examples of this could be the ability to heal or cloak himself to roam by the enemy completely unnoticed.
As for the audio, there was a few voice acting bits that might have been done a bit better here and there, but nothing that took me out of the experience. Just like any review you read, these things are simply opinionated. Overall, the audio was fine, from environmental noises to some heavy music when entering a battle, everything flowed nicely.
All-in-all, I thoroughly enjoyed Shadow Warrior 2 as this was simply a fun action video game to play. There’s plenty of blood and crude language so it’s certainly not something to enjoy in the company of minors, but if you enjoy something along the lines of Doom then I feel you’ll find this video game worth picking up to enjoy on your own or with a friend.
Full Disclosure: A copy of the game was supplied by the publisher.