A modern remake of the classic 3D Realms shooter is a great idea – the original adventures of Lo Wang (the lead character in the Shadow Warrior games, and the character you play in this) were a lot of fun.
Cutting straight to the chase: Shadow Warrior 2 is absolutely brilliant! Not only a fitting tribute to the 1997 original, but also a hugely entertaining and surprising game in its own right. Surprising because developer Flying Wild Hog has really expanded the remit of the first-person shooter with Shadow Warrior 2 and mixed-in some very interesting RPG-style elements into the gameplay. Also surprising because the detail in the game is just relentless – weapons; upgrades; skills; enemies; bosses; jokes… There is so much to take in that it sometimes feels hard to keep up!
One aspect of the gameplay that I think is interesting is in how missions are played-out. Rather than you just shooting your way through a linear path, missions often give you access to a large area to explore, and multiple objectives. Enemies seem to respawn zonally, and checkpoints also save your location zonally, which allows you to either take your time and search every nook and cranny (at the expense of having to fight more enemies), or just completing the objectives and getting the flock out of there. Once you’ve completed a mission you can teleport back to base (yes, teleport!) and turn in your missions, as well as buy stuff from shops. You can have multiple missions on the go at the same time, all of which can be accessed on a beautiful map. Plus, you can even ‘free roam’ missions you’ve previously completed, which is good if you want to go hunting for secrets or just grind more stuff. The structure of the game is very well thought-out though, and is quite original, possibly even innovative.
Weapons-wise: wow! Shadow Warrior 2 is just nuts. Nuts as in: crazy. Not only are all the weapons phenomenally modelled, lit and animated, but they mostly feel amazing to use too. They can all be enhanced, via three upgrade slots, into which you place your chosen upgrades. Some upgrades enhance firing rates; others allow you to duel-wield certain weapons; others might even penalise you slightly, as well as enhancing your capabilities. You acquire more weapons than you can equip, so must choose eight to go in your weapons slots. You do have access to all the weapons you’ve acquired through your inventory, though. Some weapons are more interesting to use than others. Depending on your taste you’ll find yourself ditching certain weapons as you progress, and turning to others as your favourites. My particular favourite is the chainsaw, although the various swords can be very effective. The basic shotgun (The Hauer) has a nice feel too. And the dual Uzis… And the dual Magnum Desert Eagles… As I said: the weapons are just crazy fun! Some even have ‘exotic’ features that only work under certain conditions. Discovering all that the weapons have to offer will take a while.
The humour in Shadow Warrior 2 is another strong feature of the game. The dialogue is chock full of wise cracks, silly proverbs, and politically-incorrect (and very funny) jokes. There are loads of eye-opening visual gags too. Not to mention plenty of gore. Shadow Warrior 2 really is a treat to giggle and hack and slash and blast your way through, although it is very much an ‘adults only’ game with quite a bit of swearing, and cannabis plants (in pots) littered about a few secret areas. Ha.
Shadow Warrior 2 is so over-the-top you could call it a satire. The developers have done a wonderful job of creating a highly-detailed and varied world, with incredible graphics and atmospherics, and lots of nice touches, like the weather changes at your base camp. The movement mechanics are fast, beautifully-balanced and interesting, like – for example – the cool double jump that Lo Wang can do, and the no fall damage. Plus: the athletic climbing and jumping he does around the landscape – like a veritable Spider-man. Plus, special attack moves that you can unlock as you go. You can even collect upgrades in the single-player game that help you in online multiplayer… I haven’t even mentioned multiplayer… As you can imagine: it’s absolute mayhem.
There are so many great touches in Shadow Warrior 2 that it’s impossible to list them all here. Like the way Lo Wang reloads the shotgun (he throws the shells into the air and they land in the chamber). Or the funny fortune cookies. Or the ‘Blade Runner’ gun (or other tributes). Or the amazing ‘Photo Mode’. Or the ‘internal voices’. Or ‘The Bird’… The list is endless.
I’d go as far as to say that Shadow Warrior 2 is probably worth full price. I was lucky and got the game for free in the recent GOG.com 10th anniversary give-away, but if you weren’t so lucky then you should at least buy it in the next sale, especially if you like first-person shooters.