Shadow Warrior Review: Wang-Tastic

Swordplay is exceptionally gratifying in Shadow Warrior, and it sets the fighting apart from other offerings in the genre. This isn’t your boring old one-and-done stabby-stabby combat either. You can cut foes’ arms, head, legs, and torsos apart in different ways, even going so far as to bisect individual sections of some limbs. In some cases, adversaries keep coming at you sans-appendages, spraying blood around until you finish them off. It’s gruesome, to be sure, but you really feel like a badass when you can dive into a big group of demons and turn the screen into a gory puree of body parts and organs within a few seconds. That’s not to say sword attacks are overpowered, but I often found myself turning to my trusty blade when things got too chaotic.

Wang’s basic katana prowess lets you swipe in different directions, delivering glancing blows or a heavier slash. That does the trick for a while, but the killing fun really ramps up as you unlock other moves and abilities that pair your blade attacks with magic. Whether you’re doing a charged stab move that separates the upper and lower half of your enemies in one fell swoop or delivering a punishing 360 degree spin slash sending a crowded mob’s heads flying, the tight and grisly melee is oh-so-satisfying. Pulling off these moves and engaging magical powers for healing and defense is sometimes tricky though, as it relies on an unusual combo system that has you double tapping different WASD key directions while clicking certain mouse buttons. They work fine when you’ve got a few seconds to spare, but getting stuck in a mob can turn into a frantic keyboard mashing blitz to escape with your hide intact.

While the unique melee combat is a definite high point, Shadow Warrior doesn’t skimp in other areas of its arsenal either. Classic standbys include a pistol, machine gun, quad-shotgun and a rocket launcher, among other familiar fare. Each has its own deadly charm, and spending cash on upgrades beefs up their power as you go. Other goodies like shuriken, demon hearts you can rip out and crush to slay their nearby brethren, and severed heads that blast laser beams score big points in rounding out the usual suspects. Between weapon upgrades, skill unlocks, and special powers you can bolster with accrued points, Wang’s RPG-like combat development gives you plenty to think about between encounters.

Sprawling stage designs give you ample room to run around when the chaos hits a crescendo. The diverse range of areas you fight through are quite pretty too, shifting from gardens with bright cherry-blossoms to fiery hell pits, industrial pipe-works, and beyond. I love that most stages are also brimming with hidden secrets to uncover that pay homage to Shadow Warrior’s retro roots. Opening a door to walk into a room skinned in the original game’s blocky graphics is a real trip, and other goofy antics like fortune cookies and humping rabbits that transform into satanic murder bunnies if slain too many times are just a few of the random oddities that pop-up as unexpected surprises.

The only downside of the many nooks and crannies found throughout each big area is that it can make figuring out where to go and what to do next more confusing than necessary. I wasted many minutes in certain stretches backtracking through stages to scour the same rooms over and over again in frustration looking for an out. In some cases, the path ahead was so obscured by debris or dark bits of scenery that it played tricks on my eyes. While I get that erecting a giant “Yoohoo, over here” sign at every exit is counterintuitive to Shadow Warrior’s old-school elements, the total lack of direction that sets in at times hampers the forward fast-paced killing momentum that keeps stages punchy and exciting.

When you get down to it, Shadow Warriors does an impressive job of straddling the line between its retro upbringings and the more advanced first-person shooter offerings of late. It’s not a perfect reboot, but it manages to make slicing through mobs of demons, gangsters, zombies, and abominations at high speed both comical and thrilling in short bursts. There’s just enough old-school flavor here to satiate the primal urge to hammer away at the kill button, but the accompanying depth makes the bloody ride worthwhile despite its shortcomings.

 

Pros:

  • Excellent, gory sword fighting system
  • Retro references are fun and humorous
  • Lots of variety in stages and monster designs

Cons:

  • Crass humor may offend some players
  • Lack of direction in some levels is problematic
  • The story drags on a bit longer than its welcome

Final Score: 81/100


Game Front employs a 100-point scale when reviewing games to be as accurate about the experience as possible. Read the full rundown of what our review scores mean.


Check out Nathan Meunier’s new book Up Up Down Down Left WRITE: The Freelance Guide To Video Game Journalism. You can also find out about more of his other work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @nmeunier and @

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

1 Comment on Shadow Warrior Review: Wang-Tastic

SupremeAllah

On October 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm

I found the game to be quite fun and enjoyable to play.

However, the humor was pathetic in this game. The original game was way funnier. People who get offended by stuff like that are just weak minded and sad, to be honest.

Flying Wild Hog took away one of the key parts of the game, the original humor, acted like a bunch of pu$$ies, and said “wha wha, we don’t want to offend people because we’re scared of the repercussions, so here’s some politically correct garbage humor” The game was not funny at all. And i thought that not only ’s comments in this game were too far and few in between, but also that they, as I mentioned before, were just not funny and very unoriginal.

This type of crap reminds me of Robocop 2, where he got reprogrammed by OCP to be all nice to people and not kill anything, instead spouting of life tips and applauding proper behavior, rather than act in his true nature. This politically correct BS has no place in this form of media. God forbid we offend the letter writers and the weak minded people who get upset over words.

All that aside, that really is my only gripe with the game (well, execpt for the fact that Lo sinks like a rock if you try to swim in water, exploding into a bloody meess if you dare try).

Fighting with the sword is a lot of fun, almost as fun as it was in Metal Gear Rising. I found myself using the sword over the firearms for nearly the entire game. The violence was pretty good, as was the model damage (but sadly still, not matching the level of Soldier of Fortune 2, and I doubt anything ever will) and for a single player FPS, they actually gave you a relatively long campaign compared to a lot of other FPS games. It’s definately worth the purchase, but I would also note that the original game is free to play on steam.