More Wang is always good.
It is hard to begin a review about Shadow Warrior without making some lewd joke about Wang. So I will take the high road and simply say: Shadow Warrior stars a protagonist with a sword and collection of firearms. He kills demons and monsters. He has magic. Oh, and his name is also Lo Wang.
When Flying Wild Hog rebooted this forgotten FPS from the classic PC days, most people didn’t care. Hell, most people had never heard of the original game, or tried to forget it due to its extremely racist and sexist content. Well, this new version keeps what made the original interesting, removes the questionable material, and generates an old-school style shooter that is more than worth its weight in Wang. Dammit.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $40
Shadow Warrior is a fast-paced shooter that harkens back to the glory days of PC. The action is swift, the enemies are plentiful, and the violence is turned up to ten. For anyone who never played the original, Lo Wang is a sarcastic protagonist who feels the need to spout ridiculous one-liners during every encounter. This time around though, there is actually a semi-decent story revolving around demons, a special sword and of course magic powers. It is better than it has any right to be, and lengthy. The game can last upwards of 15-20 hours on the higher difficulty.
There isn’t a whole lot new in the console version as opposed to last year’s PC offering. There is some extra campaign content and some new sword skins, including one from Hotline Miami, and even Serious Sam’s hammer, but the core package remains untouched.
There were also issues with the PC and its performance, which still arise in both console versions, granted not as severe. The game runs at a pretty steady clip most of the time, but when the screen starts filling with enemies, there are hits to the frame rate, and some tearing does occur.
PlayStation 4 owners also have it a bit easier when it comes to controls. The touch pad allows for mapping of magic to a simple swipe as opposed to tapping two directions and holding a button. It makes executing some of the more complicated moves much easier.
While the campaign is certainly long enough to justify the lower-than-standard price, it can tend to drag on after a while. The enemy variety is certainly not the best, although the massive boss encounters really do spice things up from time to time.
I was also disappointed at the lack of environments. I spent copious amounts of time in bamboo forests and rundown cities. About halfway through things change up for a bit, only to return to another rundown city far too quickly. Still, there is a lot of content here worth seeing.
It helps that the combat is so satisfying. Lo Wang always has his trusty sword, and slicing enemies up never gets old. Controls are also pretty good on a controller. I could opt for the casual swing, which would just slice in random directions, or the precise swing, which I aimed with the right stick. Both are equally satisfying when heads start flying.
Shadow Warrior is a lot better than it deserves to be, and despite its repetitive nature, I couldn’t stop playing it (again). There is just something addictive about the combat, plus Lo Wang remains humorous and there are tons of secrets, including pasted in areas from the original game. Fans of the original should definitely not miss this, and those who still love the twitch feel of old-school PC FPS should definitely give it a whirl.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.