Shadow Warrior 2 is what drew everyone to the old FPS classics – fast, action based gameplay filled with witty yet somewhat juvenile and cheesy retorts. For instance, soon into the first mission in the game, you encounter an old Asian man (well, it’s an Asian setting but bear with me) enforcing the sensei stereotype who says to you, “Intimidation is the tool of the fearful heart.” To that, you say, “Hey, better than being the fool of the tearful fart.” Catch my drift?
It’s hilarious, and goes to show Lo Wang’s gimmick as the 1990’s wannabe badass. He is a walking stereotype and somewhat of a joke in himself. Getting away with phrases like “don’t mess with the Wang”, our katana wielding protagonist sure has a way with words. All in all, it’s very entertaining.
Despite all the penis jokes, the penis shaped swords, more penis jokes and penis constellations in the sky, Wang was still a likable character, especially in the Shadow Warrior 2013 reboot. He was a fighter with almost supernatural abilities who sliced up demons and blew up monster heads. And he liked stupid jokes, like a 5 year old, but he was a lot of fun.
Shadow Warrior 2, instead of building up upon what Shadow Warrior already had, tries to replicate the same things, and hence doesn’t feel like much of a new game. It doesn’t exactly improve upon the mechanics or the combat in the first game. Hence, it’s hard to see it as a progression, and for the same reasons, it loses part of its charm, coming out as repetitive. Don’t get me wrong, the game starts out with a blast – you’re left stranded with nothing but a sword after some monsters wreck your car, slicing through a horde of enemies to find your way through. Chopping up the poor mofos is extremely satisfying as you see chunks of body parts fly around, spattering blood and bile all over. The body count is enormous.
The first few minutes of monster slashing fun are lost as you progress through the game. The design and feel of the game still feels strongly close to the past, like it didn’t get updated. The people look a little lifeless and funnily enough, all the women seem to be fond of skintight outfits. You enemies also include a category of sex machines called D.O.L.L.S, that moan when you try to chop them up.
Instead of a linear progression, Shadow Warrior 2 has a quest system with the home village as the central point where you can get new missions and restock on your supplies. It has an upgrade system in which you can unlock new skills and get access to bigger, badder weapons. The enemies however, are more or less similar, with occasional difference in size and crowd. Slaying enemies can also drop upgrades which you can use for weapons. The main strategy around which the game revolves is point and shoot, apart from a few boss battles where you need to try a different approach.
The story and characters aren’t very impressive either. In the first game, there seemed to be a balance between Wang’s moments as an adolescent-dong-joke-loving kid and a mature protagonist, but in this game he seems to have lost the mature bit. The jokes seem to get worse as you progress, mainly because Wang can’t go 10 seconds without being a wisecrack. He’s like a dumbed down version of DeadPool. Frankly, it’s annoying.
In terms of aesthetics, though, the game seems to have some beautiful surroundings. Shadow Warrior 2 seems to be well optimized for NVIDIA GPUs. On the GTX 1070, the game can be played on the highest settings which can take some of the pain away. The game can be easily run on the GTX 970 as well, but why not take it a notch higher? Colours are more vibrant and you can clearly see the level of detailing. The field of view and motion blur also add some aspect or realism. The visual effects are great and it’s fun to see you enemies melt as you slice them in half. But apart from the that, the game doesn’t have much to offer.
Shadow Warrior 2 takes up everything that was great about the first game and makes it a little less fun. Instead of an upgrade, it feels like a cheap imitation. But if you can stand “Wang” jokes and want some mindless killing with blood all around, this might just be the game for you.
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