It seems like now is a good a time as any for remakes. You either see a bunch of classic titles come out with all-new HD remastering and a couple of tweaks here and there, or you have full-blown remakes that take what was best (or occasionally, worst) from the original title, build upon it and add a whole bunch of new stuff. We’ve seen quite a couple of these releases this past year, and from the looks of it, it isn’t going to stop anytime soon.
Developed by Flying Wild Hog / Published by Devolver Digital
Available on the PC.
*Review copy provided by Devolver Digital
Fortunately enough though, Devolver Digital and Flying Wild Hog’s reboot Shadow Warrior is an excellent reimaging of the classic 3D Realms’ FPS, bringing Lo Wang and crew to the HD era while successfully creating a game that is rich in humor, gore and explosive gameplay.
Shadow Warrior serves as a sort of prequel to the events of the original game. Players take on the role of a young Lo Wang (protagonist of the first game), who under the service of corporation Zilla Enterprises must retrieve a powerful sword named Nobitsure Kage from a rival faction at all costs. Things don’t go as smoothly as planned however, and after terrible demons are summoned, Lo Wang – aided by a trickster demon who calls itself Hoji – must fight his way through in order to reach the weapon and its terrible master.
As you can well imagine, Shadow Warrior is fast, brutal and stupendously solid. The game takes its FPS roots to heart, providing some of the fastest shooting and sword swinging in gaming today while keeping it very addictive and thoroughly enjoyable.
You start out the game armed only with a sword and ninja stars, but after a couple of swings and strikes you’ll see how addictive and fantastic Shadow Warrior is. Thanks to the vast amount of strikes and combos, and the visceral yet cartoony decapitations and dismemberments, the sword fighting is so incredibly enjoyable and satisfying that you’ll probably favor it against any other weapon in the game. I swear.
Eventually you’ll move on to firearms, and that’s where the familiar FPS roots come into play. As expected, your armory ranges from small firearms like pistols and SMGs to longer ranged weapons like rifles, crossbows and explosive weaponry such as the RPG. Every weapon is satisfying to wield and a joy to shoot. Thanks to the addition of fast movement and the ability to dodge to the sides or quickly run forward if you have enough stamina, gunplay and swordplay feels just as quick and frantic as shooters from the good old days.
A couple of new RPG-lite elements also come in to play and really manage to spice things up. Exploring the semi-linear environments can net you a couple of things, like money and Ki stones. Money allows players to purchase upgrades for any weapon they own, provided that the upgrade is unlocked during a chapter. You can add stopping power to your firearms or increase their ammo capacity and accuracy, or strength your blade in order to slice through foes more easily. Money is usually hidden in nooks, crannies and shelves. And then there are the Ki Stones, which allow players to unlock special powers (in the form of tattoos) for Wang. These range from defensive to offense, and can improve your character in a number of ways, provided you can find these carefully hidden objects. As usual in FPSs, it pays off to look around for these hidden goodies.
Wang can also gain new attacks and other awesome special abilities by spending experience points. Experience points is earned the hard way, as Wang gets them by killing demons, and even more if he kills them creatively and strings the deaths in combos. The more experience you get means the more powerful Wang becomes, so it pays to be aggressive and demolish foes with style.
Shadow Warrior is surprisingly great, and yet I have some issues with the title. The first one is that Wang can’t swim. While I understand the developers wanted to keep this game ground-based, I hate it when players fall into the water and instantly die. It’s 2013. You should at least need a good minute or two before you fully choke, or you should be able to swim around and get back onto land.
Second, this game lacks multiplayer. I’m not saying that every FPS out there needs multiplayer, but this one has serious potential. The sword fighting in this game is phenomenal, and it’s a damn shame that I can’t go around swinging my sword like a madman as I hunt down my buddies. We’ve all played with imaginary swords when we were kids, so fighting against others online while spewing one-liners would be the next logical step.
In the end however, Lo Wang’s return to the FPS scene is a fantastic surprise and one of the better titles I’ve played this year. It’s blazing fast, stupidly hilarious and full of moments when you’ll feel like a badass. Multiplayer and the ability to swim would have been a nice addition, but as it stands, Shadow Warrior is a great return to form, and hopefully the start to a new franchise.
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