This remake of the classic Build engine shooter, Shadow Warrior, was developed by Flying Wild Hog and first released in 2013.
Like the original, it’s a hectic, balls-to-the-wall shooter that follows the exploits of a guy called Lo Wang and his fight against his boss, Orochi Zilla, and the mega corporation he commands (Zilla Industries).
I’ve played the second game extensively and really enjoyed it, so decided to buy this and see if it was any different. And it is!
This first remake of course features a different storyline – and a good one at that – but it does set up how the new series works, in terms of enemies, items, and progression. While the second game relies more on zonal areas, with monsters that re-spawn as you move from zone to zone, this first game is more linear, and when you’ve cleared monsters from an area they generally stay gone – unless you’re forced to backtrack, in which case: monsters do sometimes return for more aggro. You can also die from falling too far, which the second game doesn’t have, which means that you have to be more careful when fighting in high-up areas.
Shadow Warrior features some exceptional level design, great atmospherics, and the whole game looks and sounds absolutely fantastic. Gameplay-wise it’s excellent too. All ten weapons are powerful, unique and reasonably well-balanced and you have to use them all to make headway, mostly because ammunition is limited, and also because some weapons are more effective on certain monsters than others.
The game is challenging on normal difficulty, especially later levels, some of which feature intense battles that rage on for a while as more and more monsters teleport in. Surviving is often a case of carefully utilising available pick-ups, and also using Lo Wang‘s Ki powers and protective skills, which are developed as you play.
Special mention must go to the boss battles, which feature colossal opponents that are fought with regular weapons, by aiming at certain weak spots on their bodies.
Shadow Warrior features tons of humour, secrets, and surprises, and is a lot of fun to play if you like first-person shooters. In fact: both Shadow Warrior and Shadow Warrior 2 are essential purchases if you liked the original, or love first-person shooters in general. It contains about 20+ hours of gameplay (if you motor through it), and an ‘ex’ mode for re-playing, which allows you to keep your weapons and skills for another play-through. Shadow Warrior is worth completing, though, because the ending is surprisingly poetic, and a beautiful close to the game. After all the mayhem preceding it, it almost brought a tear to my eye.