Hands on Review: Shadow Warrior 2
Lo Wang is back into our gaming lives with a vulgar sequel to one of my favorite titles. Shadow Warrior 2 features a smart-mouthed assassin going around giving a much-needed butt kicking to the forces of evil in the most comedic way possible. Personally I am fascinated by these types of games that throw away some of the annoyance of being PC while bringing you a classic action-packed shooter. We are going to touch base on some of the upgrades and what brings us back into the life of Lo Wang.
As a straight male, I have women on my mind almost daily, with one special lady in particular (winks). However, what do you do when you are forced to babysit a soul, who is a complete nag, that was injected into you? I mean Kamiko is a sweet girl and all, but she can be a bit of an annoyance at times especially in the situation where I just saved her freaking life. In her defense, being fused with Lo Wang is a bit of a punishment considering that you never know what he might get himself into or in some cases, out of. In that, there seems to be a bigger plot involved that you have to find out in order to save her innocent soul from the demon that has taken her body. This is an interesting rescue mission that deals with futuristic soldiers, a few demons, and some wicked weaponry.
Can we address how much I enjoy a game with a lot of violence? There is nothing wrong with admitting to it because thanks to those violent games, I get a cathartic stress relief. With that said, Shadow Warrior 2 is not for the faint of heart because you will have your cuts, your stabs, your explosions and rain of gore all over the place. The best thing I enjoy about SW 2 is the fluid game mechanics featuring a nice balance of melee and shooter.
Flying Wild Hog is known for mixing up both genres like a sweet ballet of carnage that I enjoy with all my raging heart. The best part to me is more melee than a shooter, and the weapons that this creative team has produced is insane. I mean a chainsaw sword? I thought Gears of War did a good job with chainsaw combat, but these guys proved me wrong. Do not get me wrong, while the guns are fantastic, once I obtained the shotgun it was game over for any enemy.
No matter what weapon you use, you can appreciate the level of animation, such as the detail when switching between weapons, and of course as you can see in the picture above, the smooth animations when reloading ammo. I mean how do you give your weapons personality? I find all this fun and this gives you that sense of a badass. This, in turn, also comes with the different enemies you will face, all giving you a respectable level of challenge. Here is a video preview of one of the missions.
Going back into the movement of the game–which I wished more FPS games did in giving us more mobility where we don’t feel as stiff anymore. Shadow Warriors 2 gives you the ability to get the hell out of the way with a nice dodge move that is not tied down by stamina. I mean, you are already a badass ninja, so why not give us a bit of an advantage with the added parry ability plus some other mystical abilities. This gives players a pleasant flow to the game.
Each enemy you encounter will be logged in your beast list. There is a level of caution because each enemy may have a degree of advantage where they may be resistant to fire or are a walking poison sac. However, you will have your own advantages when it comes to gem customization in order to level up your weapons. The drawback is that each gem will be weapon-specific which can get annoying because you can’t tell which gem goes into what weapon until you try inserting it. Each weapon will only allow up to three gem slots so pick and choose wisely.
The good news in that is your ability to junk worthless gems to be sold later so you can go to shops and purchase more ammo or even better weapons. Apparently, the shop you purchase at can run out of items and it gives you an option to even reset the store if needed. I have not done so yet, but I will check that out soon enough.
Fast travel to the mission was a nice excuse not to drive Wang’s car, but it is respected with the teleport ability learned by Kamiko. This time around in Shadow Warrior 2, you have the choice of not going in alone with the new co-op feature; up to 4 players can take on the campaign, but I decided to be the lone wolf until I am ready to partner up. It is a nice gesture, though.
I am one to admire a game visually after I see if the game actually plays, because there is nothing like have a beautiful looking machine that ends up not working at all. Shadow Warrior 2 takes attention to detail in a beautiful way, especially with the rain drops that hit the screen, giving you that authentic FPS experience where it is hitting your glasses. The world itself has a mixture of realistic scenery with a dash of nightmare letting you know not to feel too safe while exploring.
The enemies all have a gruesome presentation of a fantastic nightmare. I can’t decide which I favor the most from the Crawlers to the Bunny Lord. I give props to the artist bringing nightmares like them to life and would love a sit down with them on the creative process. Even the personalities of some of the characters mixed with class vs. rudeness is a delightful touch. Even though Wang is part of the clan, he seems so out of place compared to everyone else, but that is a great quality to stand out like that.
Here comes the bad:
Even though Shadow Warrior 2 is a great game with beautiful visuals and smooth gameplay, I am torn between the price tag of $39.99 and the length of the game. Then I thought about how much fun I had, which actually justifies the price tag. I do have a gripe of adding all these gems and abilities to my resistance to damage and still seem to have trouble surviving. It is a weird feeling to be strong but still can’t take much of a hit at times. I am not sure whether the enemies are getting stronger or the gems hardly do much. Even the elemental effects seem to hardly take down enemies fast enough at times.
Lastly, the loading times can be quite vexing. Again, during this time and age we should be done with long loads. I counted almost to 35 seconds which is a lot during times time and age of gaming.
So…how do you really feel?
In the end Shadow Warrior 2 pulls no punches in giving gamers a fantastic experience with a funny storyline. Although it is not overly complicated like some other FPS titles, that is okay. Sometimes we need to just have fun in a video game, especially with a lot of violence and chaos. I am not saying Lo Wang is a role model hero, but he is a great anti-hero with a comedic dark personality. It is a short title with about only 7 hours of gameplay and the added addition of co-op is a nice touch so you and three other friends can share the experience together. It feels a little forced and you can go through just fine without the aid of others. I will definitely say this is a buy.
It is visually pleasing, controls quite well and there is replay value for those that want that perfect run of achievements, even if you change the difficulty to give yourself a better challenge. I recommend Shadow Warrior 2 for the nostalgia and secrets you will discover and that means it gets 4.5 paws out of 5.
Check out Shadow Warrior 2 now for the Windows PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Currently it is on sale on the Steam Marketplace for 10% off so jump on that deal right now. If the developers are reading this, may I request a replica of the chainsaw sword? Please…(laughs). Stay frosty gamers!