It took them seven months, but our prayers have finally been answered: the sequel to the surprisingly good Shadow Warrior reboot has finally been ported to home consoles, and color me impressed, it’s even better than its predecessor.
Killing robot ninjas: always delightful
Shadow Warrior 2 is a vast improvement over the first game in nearly every aspect. The game’s campaign structure has been completely changed to a non-linear mission-based story mode, in which you are free to tackle missions whenever you want, picking them from characters in a hub world. You can also choose to play side missions, challenges and bounty hunts whenever you want as well, in order to gain experience points, new abilities, new weapons (there are seventy of them, holy cow!) and cash. Those side missions are always mapped on randomly generated levels, making every playthrough unique. The best part of it: you can tackle the campaign both by yourself or with up to three friends online.
The game features a lot of RPG elements, such as leveling up, stats modifiers, equipment buffs, elemental damage and resistance, critical hits, crafting, and so on. There are also tons of extra abilities you can acquire throughout the gameplay, such as new melee combos or increasing your health meter. There are tons of things to do and collect in Shadow Warrior 2, so expect a very lenghty playthrough. Hooray!
The game’s visual and sound departments have also been improved this time around.
The graphics are much better than Shadow Warrior‘s, especially when it comes to the environments. Just like the predecessor, there are still tons of destructible objects throughout the levels, and lots of particle effects, but this time around, they don’t feature the horrendous textures and lighting from three years ago. That doesn’t mean everything is perfect in this department, though, as the character models are still ugly and dated, even though they do look a lot better than its predecessor’s incredibly ugly NPCs and demons.
The sound department has also been vastly improved. While the dialogue is still tarnished by Lo Wang’s incredibly imbecile quips – think about Duke Nukem, but instead of him just talking about how awesome he is, Lo Wang also talks how much he likes to kill everything in sight, without ever stopping – the game’s soundtrack has been vastly improved, with a nice mix between heavy rock and Chinese music. Major props to the main menu’s groove metal riffs, by the way.
Remember when I said the game has been improved over its predecessor in nearly every way? Well, there is one thing in which the 2014 Shadow Warrior still does best: that game ran on 60fps, while Shadow Warrior 2 runs at half of that framerate.
Given how balls-to-the-wall and fast-paced the gameplay is, that is quite bothersome. Lo Wang moves incredibly fast throughout the levels, and so do the dozens of enemies onscreen at any given time. The combat, therefore, isn’t as fluid as Shadow Warrior used to be. Adding insult to injury, Lo Wang’s aiming sensitivity is insanely fast and, for the lack of a better word, sensitive, and that will make you miss quite a few shots throughout the game. If there’s any consolation to this issue, I haven’t faced any framerate slowdowns throughout the game, keeping everything at a steady thirty, with the exception of a millisecond hiccup everytime you find a new checkpoint. Given the fact those checkpoints are found on areas without enemies, that didn’t cause any troubles.
Keeping the Duke Nukem maturity pattern alive
Shadow Warrior 2 might be slightly hindered by its technical flaws and its incredibly obnoxious protagonist, but I can’t deny the fact I had tons of fun with it. The first game was already pretty good, but this sequel just took the series to a whole new level of quality. If you’re fed up with “realistic” military shooters, just sit back, relax, and start slaughtering a bagillion demons with your sword or any 70 other weapons in the game. I can’t think of any better catharsis than that.
Also available on: PS4, PC