Editor’s Note: “Insert more crude wang jokes here”
After an impressive reboot of a classic franchise, Flying Wild Hog has returned with a Shadow Warrior sequel that not only sits on the boundaries of what makes the game great but excels it into new heights that is quite rather unexpected of the series. Shadow Warrior 2 is back, it’s not only highly refined and polished but offers much more than just slicing away your enemies into dust.
The infamous ‘potty’ mouth ninja Lo Wang returns and once again, has to battle various demons that have invaded the world through another dimension. The story while is trying to be slightly more engaging is actually somewhat of a nuisance to the overall attitude the game was pushing. The tone really felt off as most of the time, you’re aren’t sure whether it’s a joke or tyring to be serious. It’s hard to swallow the story/theme but luckily it can be served as a backing towards the overall game. Most of the time, I just wanted to carve my way through the enemies without having to take in the story which you can skip regardless.
Shadow Warrior 2’s introduction is quite familiar to its predecessor as it pits you through tutorial-style levels that gets you to grip with the gameplay mechanics. The game however opens up and introduces new elements to the series which suddenly morphs this game into an Action-RPG than a First-Person linear shooter that you’re expecting. If you ever played Borderlands and Diablo, you’ll feel right at home here as Shadow Warrior 2 introduces RPG elements such as procedural levels, quests, bosses, weapon modifiers/buffs and more. It’s an all new beast with the signature combat and theme that represents Shadow Warrior.
Coming from Shadow Warrior, the combat system is much more refined and flows incredibly well for those wanting pin-point accuracy and great terrain movement. The maps are less linear allowing you to traverse the terrain and zip across rooftops with ease – so you can truly feel like a real ninja. Even as the levels are more open, the developers at Flying Wild Hog has done a great job retaining the fast-paced adrenalin packed combat where every player wants to get into the midst of.
“Flying Wild Hog has done a great job retaining the fast-paced adrenalin packed combat where every player wants to get into the midst of”
There’s a few various types of weapons to get your hands-on from melee to shotguns and assault rifles – the loadouts are great and offer enough fun cutting up your enemies into chunky bits covering your screen in gore. The hits feel accurate and the combat intense no matter how repetitive which is rather satisfying. You can avoid enemies to kill or gain your objectives but you would rather not consider how fun it is slicing your enemies in slow-mo.
Since the game is more action-RPG, there’s also abilities to upgrade and you can also pick up new weapons and upgrade them. Each weapon has different DPS stats now and you can use objects you find to add a buff and modifier to them. Certain enemies are immune or weaker to certain elements which you can add to your weapon. While there’s some need to tinker around with your weapons to get the best damage as possible with certain enemies and bosses – most of the time everything kind of takes damage so you’ll eventually kill them.
One of the biggest push for this game is the four-player co-operative side of things which Shadow Warrior 2 introduces to the series. With the addition of the action-RPG element, it’s not surprising to see the game orientated in this direction than just a solo experience following the footsteps of titles like Borderlands. While you can play the campaign by yourself, the game is a far better experience playing with your friends. The carnage is kicked up next level as you witness you and your friends come in from different angles wielding the chainsaw cutting into one of the bosses. It’s pure action and plays incredibly well.
There is an issue however with the co-operative mode and it feels more tacked on to the game rather than built around it. You can play the game in co-op from start to finish but the game’s story, narrative and cut-scenes is all built for the single player in mind and I often found it weird or annoying to see that it’s not catered for the multi-player experience. This can make the co-op experience rather sub-par overall and it would have been great to maybe see some sort of dedicated setup for the co-operative play. Despite this minor setback, Shadow Warrior 2 plays really well with friends and I do highly recommend it: four ninjas are better than one.
It was hard to expect more from a series that was made famous for notorious crude humour, dick jokes and excessive gore but somehow Flying Wild Hog proved myself wrong with Shadow Warrior 2. I was expecting the usual ‘Wang’ jokes and constant swearing which don’t get me wrong – still has plenty of but the addition of a Borderlands/Diablo style RPG system, a refined and frantic combat and intense co-op has truly re-imaged what Shadow Warrior is for me. Shadow Warrior 2 is a surprising dark horse in this busy quarter of gaming.
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platforms: PC (Xbox One and PS4 coming at a later date)
A review copy was provided by the publisher.