Shadow Warrior (2013) – game review
Shadow Warrior makes a come back from the 90s as a modern first person shooter with roots set in old fashioned gameplay with pure guns and gore powdered with mindless explosions all around. The original game was made by Duke Nukem developers: 3D Realms, as an attempt to make quirky, non-serious yet violent hero set in Asian setting called Wang. FlyingHogStudios (which previously brought us the old schooled Hard Reset) set out to re-make, or re-imagine the game in modern times. Re-imagining is better term as this is not a HD remake of original but uses the original hero in a brand new adventure.
The game’s story puts you in shoes of Lo Wang who works for Zilla corporation on a mission to purchase an ancient katana, but the seller refuses the deal in end, forcing you to take your own katana out and do what you must to get the required object. Yes the story escalates pretty quickly to violence, which should give you a general idea of the pace of the rest of game. With its 6~8 hour gameplay, you can be sure that a lot of blood of both humans and demons will be upon your hands as you go from a deal gone bad to a super-natural adventure of collecting ancient swords of power along with the help of a demon buddy of your own.
Gameplay wise, I did find that controls and movement are too damn fast or slippery, or maybe all those military FPS have ruined the way old school games used to feel for me. Although you will be spilling blood and bursting skulls with lots of weapons including pistols, shotguns, uzis, dual uzis etc. but time after time you will keep using your katana as it is most fun as well as overpowered weapon of the game to get the job done.
At its heart the hordes of enemy will make any old school player happy yet the developers wanted to try something new with a RPG like skill tree of weapon upgrades, purchasable via in-game collected loot. I didn’t like micromanaging these powers through all the confusing sub-menus and straight way ignoring upgrades will put your hero at disadvantage as the game difficulty progresses. I do wish there were auto-upgrades or at least some simpler choices, I never came to play a MMORPG here, its an old school game and should have kept things simple.
The level design is beautiful, even though in terms of graphics it will break no grounds, but there are scenes in oriental gardens or even in shadow world where you just stand and appreciate the beauty. Although I am a hater of heavenly-glow or bloom in games, radiating from everything from players hands to trees, but with super-natural setting of this game it kind of worked well. The demon or enemy design is pretty nice even though the human models look pathetically modeled as compared to details on super natural demons.
The levels are not entirely linear with small open areas which did leave me sometimes confused as where to go next without any compass or objective indicator. But such moments in levels are pretty less so not that much troublesome. The levels will take you from asian themed gardens, graveyards, indsutrial areas to even Tolkein inspired Shadow realm.
The game’s main charm comes from its quirky humor both from the Lo Wang and his ever teasing Demon buddy throwing profane insults at him from time to time. The non-serious attitude of the game really fit the profile of the classic hero who never takes his predicament seriously.
If you enjoyed Hard Reset (which I did) or classic Shadow Warrior (which everyone did back then) then this is a true homage to the brutal and bloody old school game of past. Modern gamers looking for something serious will get lost in translation. Its not the perfect nostalgia game: the AI is stupid, gun-play is undermined by overpowered katana and complex upgrades ruin the fun. Yet its humor and swordplay make it an enjoyable blood bath.
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