Everyone loves more Wang.
Before you start reading this review, scroll down and hit play on the song. Trust me, it is worth it.
I grew up on 90s FPS games. Duke Nukem, Blood, Rise of the Triad, and of course Doom. There was always Shadow Warrior though, a game built off the Build Engine, that carried more than a few offensive tropes with it. When Flying Wild Hog rebooted the franchise a couple years back I was excited. It had been a while since I had some Wang in my life (yes those puns will be plentiful), and seeing the series return filled me with glee. While the first game was an homage to classic FPS games, the sequel takes a new turn, and I have mixed feelings about it.
Shadow Warrior 2 keeps the same humor and combat from previous games. Lo Wang returns with his trusty sword and arsenal of weapons. He mows down demons and other nefarious creatures with style and panache, while also quipping one liners that are genuinely hilarious at times. His rendition of ‘My Favorite Things’ is sublime, but there is a twist – Shadow Warrior 2 features loot; lots and lots of loot.
Platforms: PC (reviewed), XB1, PS4
Price I’d Pay: $39.99
Multiplayer: 1-4 co-op
As crazy as it sounds, Shadow Warrior 2 shares more in common with Diablo than anything else. There are chests scattered around the world, filled with new trinkets that Lo Wang can equip to modify his weapons. Their properties are amazing at times; adding fire damage to a weapon is standard fare, but offering up the ability to drop a gun as a turret is simply incredible. There are different colors for rarity, and certain items only work on certain types of weapons. My issue is that it feels like an overload, and I spent a large amount of time micro-managing all my loot, instead of slicing through hordes of enemies.
In addition to trinkets, Lo Wang will also earn cards with upgrades and new abilities on them. There are once again a TON of these in the game. Whenever I earned skill points, I spent an unhealthy amount of time figuring out what I wanted to upgrade. Don’t get me wrong, I adore upgrades and RPG elements in almost any game, but there needs to be a balance. It feels like the developers simply shoved everything including the kitchen sink into Shadow Warrior 2, the possibilities are endless.
The same goes with the weaponry; there is a lot of firepower to unleash in the game. Multiple melee weapons, including a chainsaw…need I say more? These can also be equipped with power-ups, it is seriously nuts.
Now that I have that off my chest, let me say this: Shadow Warrior 2 is brutally enjoyable. I adore the fast-paced combat. Switching between melee and guns is super intuitive and fun. There are standard story missions as well as side missions, which honestly should be required. The XP and trinkets gathered from these side missions are imperative to progress. What is unique about the side missions is that they are randomly generated. Once completed, those areas can be explored in free-roam mode where enemies respawn, and named enemies can be killed for better loot. Again, think Diablo and it all makes sense.
In addition to all that single player goodness, there is also a co-op mode for up to four players. This of course buffs up enemies, making them more bullet sponges, but with a good team, it is still super satisfying. When players work together and take on different roles, it ends up feeling like a solid romp. Everyone plays as Wang, but each player sees the other characters as generic ninjas, which is hilarious. With the randomly generated levels, it also makes replaying them to grind for loot a somewhat unique experience.
The visuals in the game are outstanding. Even with the randomization, the assets are gorgeous. Enemies are taken apart by a new system that gibs them procedurally, and it really is a sight to see. The core story levels are large and highly detailed, and boy those explosions look real nice. The game also runs super fast, and combat feels superb at 60 fps.
The music and sound though are on another level. Lo Wang and his co-stars are voiced spectacularly. His one-liners had me giggling more often than not. The music though is where it lives and dies. Stan Bush returns, and with original music for this game. It is stellar, and I found myself watching the credits just to hear the track. This game knows what strings to pull, and it pulls them extremely well.
Shadow Warrior 2 is a fantastic game that meshes what I love about loot games with the ridiculously fast-paced combat of 90s shooters. It is unapologetic, it is ridiculous, but most importantly, it is 12 tons of dumb fun. I couldn’t stop smiling while playing, and that is a sign of a really good game. Get some Wang, you won’t regret it.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.
This game was reviewed on an ORIGIN PC
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Z87N
- Liquid Cooling: Origin Frostbyte 120 Liquid Cooling
- Processor: Intel Core i7 4770K Quad-Core
- Memory: Kingston HyperX 8GB 1600 MHz
- Graphics Card: Single NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN (6GB)