Shadow Warrior PC Review

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When I saw Shadow Warrior pop up on Steam back in September I thought; “Shadow Warrior, now this looks like something right up my alley.” I mean they have a man on the cover geared up with a katana smoking a cigarette, what more can you ask for? Continuing to the store page I watched the trailer to see what I was getting myself into just in case I was about to make a horrible, impulsive mistake. When I hit play, my headphones came to life with the music of Stan Bush’s The Touch and my computer monitor flooded my vision with the main character, Lo Wang, massacring demons and humans alike with an arsenal of weapons. I was instantly in love.

Shadow Warrior originally came out in 1997 and was reminiscent of Doom games, both games were developed by 3D Realms, so the similarities were to be expected. In this re-imagining Flying Wild Hog takes Shadow Warrior and brings this retro FPS into modern times with awesome upgraded graphics and solid gameplay.

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Gameplay is as you would expect from any first person shooter, and if you have any previous experience with them, then you should feel comfortable with the controls. With one very meaningful exception. The primary weapon is a katana, which when added to the mix makes for fast paced, up close and personal combat, it’s very visceral, literally. When first playing I didn’t use the katana as much thinking that it was kind of gimmicky. But toward the end of the game melee is attacks were my first choice. It’s just too much fun cutting your enemies into gory ribbons. The developers did a good job making the melee system work in an age of predominately gun heavy games. Don’t get me wrong, the ranged weapons are great too. Firearms add variety to combat so it’s not just mindless hack and slash. Each weapon has multiple upgrades, and when upgraded you can actually see a physical change on each weapon, which makes it look cool and feels like money well spent. Even though this is a FPS you are also able to gain skill points to distribute into multiple skill trees, which are passive and you can also collect items call Ki crystals to gain powers that require a button combination in order to activate them. I did have some trouble with activating powers at times where I would do the combo but I would just end up swinging my sword. That kinda rained on my parade whilst fighting a horde of demons. Instead of activating a useful power, I just swung my sword and then proceeded to get ganked in a demon moshpit. It could have been a user error, but when developing control bindings, that’s something you have to anticipate. Basically, it could have been easier.

Shadow Warrior offers stunning visuals and ultra smooth gameplay. Everything is really vibrant. When I entered some of the environments, I found myself stopping to smell the roses. The scenery ranges from suburban cityscapes and lush bamboo jungles to wild snow-capped mountains and very large candle lit temples. Each spot is beautiful in its own way. The great lighting effects are also something to look out for.

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In Shadow Warrior you play as Lo Wang, a comic book collecting, katana wielding, cheesy one liner master mercenary who puts his skills to use for mega corporation Zilla Enterprise. His mission this time is to retrieve the legendary sword Nobitsura Kage from a Mr. Mizayaki. Armed with 2 million dollars you go to make the trade, and if he doesn’t accept, you are ordered to obtain the sword no matter what the cost. Long story short; the deal goes sour and you start cutting up everything in sight, but when confronted with Mizayaki and his demon companion Hoji, you are incapacitated and imprisoned. Sounds bad right? Well it gets worse. Because of the sword demons start pouring into the real world from the shadow realm. They begin running amok on Earth. After escaping your prison you find Mizayaki dead and the sword missing. Hoji offers you help, only because he can’t physically touch anything in the human world on account of him being from the shadow realm. So you two set off to reclaim the Nobitsura Kage and seal the demon horde away while the world falls apart around you. Talk about taking loyalty to the next level. The original game also had two expansions so I have my hopes up for future content to come out.

Fast and furious combat was greatly satisfying and the stunning visuals literally made me stop in my tracks. I spent time actually looking at the details of the level instead just running by. I had issues with executing powers, but I can still say Flying Wild Hog did great justice with the re-imagining of Shadow Warrior. It is definitely on my top ten list for 2013 and hopefully it’ll be on yours too.