Shadow Warrior Review
God bless them, games are trying to evolve. You’ve got Starbreeze there, moving away from making games about homicidal Vin Diesel characters to doing an emotive tale about two siblings.
Meanwhile, David Cage’s latest narrative heavy game Beyond: Two Souls’ release is imminent, and looks set to tug on heartstrings everywhere.
Who knows, maybe a new era of sensitivity and consideration is being ushered in…
Hooray for Flying Wild Hog and Devolver then, who were too busy watching Schwarzenegger films and listening to death metal to notice, and squeezed out the magnificently stupid Shadow Warrior.
Shadow Warrior’s a reboot of the old 3D Realms game (the same chaps that did Duke Nukem 3D) from 1997, without the overt racism this time obviously, because Christ, that was a bit dodgy.
Duke Nukem’s an apt comparison actually, as Flying Wild Hog (who developed the excellent Hard Reset) have managed to update the character of Lo Wang far better in the new game than Gearbox and 3D Realms did with Duke in Duke Nukem Forever.
In Duke Nukem Forever, Duke was clearly a 1996 character transported without change to modern times.
What should have happened is Duke should have been an aging idiot, still hanging out in nudey bars with NPCs finding him pathetic and out of touch. If he was like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler it would have been brilliant.
Instead, it was the same tired one liners, and everyone in the game treats him with overt reverence, reverence that clearly mirrored what George Broussard thought people saw in Duke, where in reality, they just found the fact he ripped off Ash from Evil Dead’s lines a bit funny. For a bit.
The new Lo Wang though? He’s quite likeable. He’s a dumbbell. And a nerd actually.
He kicks off Shadow Warrior: Redux by singing ‘You’ve got the touch’ from the Transformers film, talks about his comic books, and has a secret lair under his home clearly modelled on the batcave.
While he’s fighting he’ll quote lines from movies, then curse as he realises he’s messed them up. Hoji, the demonic companion that joins him during the first mission, relentlessly ribs him for being so stupid and awful.
In some ways, it’s a lesson in how to make an old character new, without killing the fun. It also helps that the game’s a blast.
It’s not quite as good as the recent Rise of The Triads game, but this is still a cracking little onslaught.
It’s got a lot in common with Serious Sam, in the way that it’s less focused on maze-like level design, and more intent on chucking a full on demon apocalypse at you to decimate. And decimate them you will.
Shadow Warrior’s ace in the hole is the katana.
It feels a bit inconsistent at times, as you’ll swear you’ve made contact sometimes and nothing’ll happen, but for the most part, hacking everything in your path to bloody chunks is guilty, dumb fun.
It’s to the detriment of the firearms in the game a bit actually, not that they’re not fun to use, but why use a boring old revolver when you can cleanly swipe some demon prick’s head clean off?
There’s a bit of Bulletstorm in Shadow Warrior too, which is nice. You get points based on how well you tear demons apart, and can upgrade as you get more.
Of course it’s not as well implemented as in Bulletstorm and isn’t anywhere near as integral, but it’s nice Bulletstorm’s still spreading it’s seed around a bit.
It’s a bit rough, and it’s not built for extended plays (it’s kind of exhausting, and works best in half an hour to hour long bursts), but Shadow Warrior’s proof that there’s still plenty of room for a daft, bloodthirsty shoot-em-up in this increasingly serious world.
Version tested: PC