After Flying Wildhog rebooted Shadow Warrior back in 2013 to positive reaction, Lo Wang’s next battle against Zilla Corporation and the demons were eagerly anticipated.
Shadow Warrior 2 was, for me, my first taste of Wang. But from even the opening sequence, I knew what the game wanted to be, uncaring for any casualties it brought along with it. Playing as Wang, an outspoken, good for nothing lone mercenary, who primarily cares for nothing more than the green he receives, you are set along a course of twists and turns, battling demonic creatures and the Zilla Corporation. The story itself isn’t memorable and mostly forgettable, but Wang’s off the wall one liners and general attitude towards other characters keeps the dialogue from becoming stale.
Fluidity is the key to Shadow Warrior 2. From getting up close with your Katanas, to blasting anything that moves with your flaming rockets, Wang’s abilities make it easy to interchange your attacks. Double jumping and dashing away from a situation provides you enough time to lay out your next plan of attack, but they can also be used to quickly elude enemies to get in for that final takedown. As I progressed through, happily spraying bullets with my light machine gun, I would be unexpectedly ambushed by the demonic swine. However, you can quickly swap between range and melee weapons using RB, so Wang always has the last laugh. Problems do arise if you’re in a sticky situation and looking for a specific item in your arsenal, as using the weapon wheel doesn’t pause the game. Because of this, you’re left frantically looking for a weapon as you leave Wang to get massacred on screen.
Another way that Shadow Warrior 2 keeps it fluidity is with teleportation. Yes, you’re going to say, “Chris teleportation is meant to keep the game flowing” and I know this, but Flying Wildhog have managed to put their on twist on it. While in mission, if you find yourself running low on ammo or generally finding the action a little hot, you can teleport yourself right back to HQ, where you can then replenish your ammo and bounce back into the action, without any loading times.
It must be said; Shadow Warrior 2 isn’t simply a linear FPS. Flying Wildhog have created nonlinear levels, which allow you to explore in both single player and online through 4 player co-op. Within these missions, you can pick up various loot that is either dropped by fallen enemies, or hidden within chests. The loot can range from money, gems, upgrades and even new weapons for you to equip, taking influences from Diablo and Borderlands. All the loot that you gather can be found within the menu screen. I have spoken about how the fluidity of Shadow Warrior 2 was the key? Well, the customisation is the lock. Once these two are connected, you start to unravel what makes the game special.
As you progress through, you will unlock skill points which can be used to customise Wang’s loadout. From increasing your total health, to adding more power and elemental based skills, you can tailor your character to your own certain play style. These cards can also be found scattered around missions, so there are always new skills to play around with.
Alongside the skills points, Shadow Warrior 2 dives deeper into the RPG mechanics with gems. These gems work as upgrades for Wang and his weapons. Each gem has its own different attribute, which can be inserted and extracted at any point. This makes your weapon arsenal even more interesting to use. Tear down enemies using your modified Toxic Nail gun, or add a fire element gem and turn your Katana into a flaming sword. These customisations can be constructed within the menu while you’re in a mission; say you come across an enemy that is immune to your primary weapon attacks, but that weapon can deal the most damage? You can simply manipulate your gem configuration to convert it, turning the battle to your favour, all in real time. A downfall that the mechanic has is when comparing different gems to each other. After only a few short missions you will have accumulated a large number of gems that can be put to use, however deciding which type of gem to use can be difficult. When selecting one gem, its hard to quickly compare it against another gem of the same type as the comparisons aren’t shown against each other on screen. You just have to remember which each gem attributes were when trying to insert them in.
Not least is the fact that it’s a rather pretty looking game, with numerous locations changing up the surroundings often. Yet the frame rate just does not seem to drop. Whether you are slicing limbs in the luscious green forest or within the neon lit city, it manages to hold up well, even if numerous enemies attack you at once. This keeps the action flowing, without any of that frustrating slowdown.
A download code was provided for this review by the developer/publisher
*Current price bundle only which includes Shadow Warrior