Shadow Warrior 2 Review: Action, Blood, And Bad Jokes

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Developed by Polish studio Flying Wild Hog and published by Devolver Digital, Shadow Warrior 2 is an intense fps-adventure featuring blood, mutated monsters, pop-culture references, and an arsenal of bad jokes.

The game is set five years after the events featured in the 2003 reboot of the series. Lo Wang will again come to blows with Zilla as he tries to save the world from a demonic invasion. A rather simple story-line that doesn’t need much explaining.

Not To Be Taken Seriously

shadow warrior 2 fortune cookie
Shadow Warrior 2 Doesn’t Takes Itself Seriously

The premise to this title is that you shouldn’t take it seriously. In a world populated by abominations, this is a redundant statement. After all, not every game should carry a moral message. The guys at Flying Wild Hog based their work on this concept and created an environment that is unique in its own right.

The over-the-top humor, frequently resorting to penis jokes as well as a cynical approach to the current events, will often make you grin. The occasional remark or incoherent mumbling coming out of Lo Wang’s mouth is just the icing on an already particularly cheesy cake. The writing works just because it achieves exactly what it aims at. As you unload your weapon into the nearest enemy or slice them to pieces with your sword, you realize that every detail was designed to make the slaughter feel light-hearted.

The scenarios that make up Shadow Warrior 2 span from ancient Asian ruins to technologically advanced labs. Yet they manage to perfectly fit together to create an enjoyable experience.As the protagonist will learn shortly after the beginning of his adventure, intensely thinking about a place will instantly teleport him there. This frees the developers from the need to connect the different scenarios, making fielding such a variety of locations a concrete possibility.

Simply hit the map button and select your next destination and the modern day ninja, along with thousands of pounds of equipment, will gracefully land just where you told him to. While seemingly linear at first, most of the levels allow you to make full use of Lo Wang’s skills. You will find yourself jumping from roof to roof in a Yakuza-controlled slum or trying to survive the destruction of one of Master Zilla’s many facilities. Wherever you are, you can always count on your sword, as well as several special abilities, to complete your tasks.

Lo Wang also learned how to climb walls and ladders as well as jumping. Falling from extremely high ledges won’t damage you at all, making skydiving your preferred mean of transportation. A specific button can be pressed while falling to increase your speed. This has no effect other than making you feel like a badass.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life; Or So They Say

You cannot pick up this penis shaped sword; yet it perfectly describes the thought that went into designing Shadow Warrior 2's guns
You cannot pick up this penis-shaped sword. Still, these designs are what you can expect from the game!

Once you’re done with your current mission, returning to a HUB area allows you to level up your character or spend some of your earnings to purchase new weapons. Several side-quests also let you unlock additional power-ups or earn more money.

You will also receive weapons, as well as cash for successfully bringing your body back in one piece. Being a professional comes with the ability charge extremely high prices for one’s services. As a result, you will rarely be low on money.

While Shadow Warrior 2 doesn’t feature a complex economy system and the whole world seems to rely on a single blacksmith and two tiny shops, there’s somehow plenty of wares to go through.

The game features more than 70 different weapons. This is both a blessing and curse, as finding a favorite one becomes a tiresome effort. You will quickly grab what you think is every assassin’s wet dream only to find a better weapon waiting for you a few meters away. The fact that these 70 are unique and not a blatant re-skin of only a handful of models still makes them fun to collect.

Customization also plays a huge part in defining your fighting style. Each weapon, be it a gun or a blade, can house up to three gems. Just like in many RPGs, gems give your tools additional effects. Customizing your weapon can add additional damage as well as special abilities such as exploding ammo or flammable projectiles. Just like that, a crappy revolver that you would have never used turns into a deadly venom-spitting gun that is able to blow even the toughest of demons to smithereens.

The Easiest Solution Is The Most Effective One

shadow warrior menus
Okay.. So.. Where do I go from here?

There’s no doubt that Shadow Warrior 2 may feel a tad over-complicated, especially in the eyes of less experienced players. In general, keeping things simple is always the best solution.

From the start, this title manages to do just the opposite. The countless menus you will have to go through will feel confusing and cumbersome. Starting a new match or messing with the settings takes a lot more than it should.

Combat definitely is the most over-engineered mechanic in Shadow Warrior 2. Lo Wang learned several special abilities that should help him dispose of his foes. The truth is that you will rarely use the active ones as your guns will work just fine. A few well-placed grenades or a quick slash with your melee weapons will take care of most problems.

Guns Galore

Leveling your character gives you points that you can invest to upgrade your skills. Once again, you won’t really feel the need for it. The majority of these abilities are passives and only increase things such as your pick-up radius or the amount of bullets you can carry. As Lo Wang rarely runs out of ammo to begin with, ignoring them won’t affect your ability to complete the game. As long as you remember to upgrade your stamina and maximum health, you’ll do just fine.

The huge weapon models also don’t help. While it might be fun to wield a large gun, navigating the levels becomes extremely hard when the gun itself is obscuring your vision. As Shadow Warrior 2 doesn’t allow you to change your horizontal FoV, this problem remains to be fixed.

Aside from some minor flaws, Shadow Warrior 2 remains an extremely enjoyable title. The direct approach, dynamic combat, and the witty writing surely do much to improve this game.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Shadow Warrior 2
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Alessandro has been a gaming enthusiast since the age of five. Gaming his way through different platforms and their evolution, he acquired extensive knowledge of the gaming industry and the world surrounding it. He’s been covering the topic on different outlets, mainly focusing on Indie and smaller titles.