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Shadow Warrior 2 is a first-person shooter developed by indie studio Flying Wild Hog and published by Devolver Digital. It is the sequel to Shadow Warrior that was released in 2013, with that game already being a reboot of the 1997 original. It's updated graphics and increased focus on making gameplay smooth really shines through.
As someone who hasn't played the prequel or the original Shadow Warrior I went into this game knowing only two things, guns and swords. After playing through the easy to follow tutorial, and trying the weapon combos out for myself, I was extremely impressed. The graphics weren't of course the best we've seen on Xbox One, though the gameplay made the game right up there with the greats of FPS games.
The story is fairly simple to follow. Badass guy (you play as) fights bad guys. Big boss bad guy does something bad, and then you work to defeat the big boss guy. That's the simple breakdown. Of course, the story itself is a little more complex to explain, but well, I'd honestly just recommend giving the game a go yourself to try and wrap your head around the madness. The run down is you play as Lo Wang, who is working as a hired sword for the local Yakuza clans. Things go wrong and you have to help save your bosses daughter from a life (and soul) threatening drug.
Gameplay and Collectibles
The great thing about Shadow Warrior 2 is the amount of customisation for the weapons. There are a number of weapons throughout the game such as a shotgun, chainsaw, or the classic Katana. Throughout the game you can collect karma, amulets, and armour to upgrade Lo Wang. You can also add elements to your weapons to help against certain enemies, or to just add extra damage and create cool looking weapons. The game as a whole has so many different collectables. It's extremely nice to find a game that rewards a player so much for doing such a good job, because the game isn't always as easy as it seems.
When it comes to gameplay it runs extremely smoothly. Operating between the different sections of the pause menu and then back into the game itself is as easy as pie, and makes switching out upgrades simple and effective in the fast pace battles that occur. The weapon wheel also makes it extremely easy to prioritise what weapons you'd like to use out of the large range of over 70 weapons available throughout the game. Fighting enemies always seems different, even if you've fought that type of enemy a million times before. Each battle is unique and even small enemies can prove a threat. Boss battles certainly make you feel threatened and you have to prioritise close range and long range attacks if you wish to make it out alive. I can say with confidence the gameplay is addicting and lovable.
One of the other more overlooked features of this game is the 4 player co-op mode available. It allows you to play through the game but with your friends, which is something that is surprisingly lacking for this type of game. The difficulty level also changes depending on how many players you have and such, to keep the game balanced. I'm very glad they included this feature as co-op is vital to gaming as a whole.
Graphics and Environment
The graphics are pretty nice. It's not the best I've seen from a game, I'll admit, but it still rightly belongs on Xbox One. The characters can look at bit out of place at times, especially outside of cut scenes, but that's a rare occurrence. The cut scenes in game are all pretty well done though, and if anything, the game doesn't have enough of them. Sometimes you can jump from one place to another (not teleportation) and it seems like there was a cut scene missing.
As for the environment, it's absolutely beautiful. Each area of the game looks magnificent and really helps create the atmosphere and feel of the situations you're put in. Enemies all seem to fit right in, even when they should feel out of place, due to how well the destroyed buildings or wasting greenery is all brought together. There is even an amazing feature in game called photo mode, which allows you to look around the environment and change multiple different filters in order to get the best view of the scenery. I'd be nice to see more games implement that into their single player stories.
Soundtrack and Audio
It is very rare that I can find a game that lacks a punch when it comes to the soundtrack, but sadly I feel that Shadow Warrior 2 does. There seems to be somewhat of an absence when it comes to the soundtrack being around, whether it is a cut scene, or in game. I feel that with the settings you're put in the game may have a lot of opportunities to throw out some amazing music into our ears and yet it chooses not to in fear of distracting the player too much. It's a shame because I feel the right music would have been the cherry on the top for this game.
As for the audio, the voice acting is well done for the most part. There are a few characters that I'd say are questionable when it comes to performance but most characters fit their roles well. Lo Wang is an extremely funny and lovable character, with some excellent one liner’s throughout the entire game. Enemy and environment audio were great, as well as weapon audio. There's nothing more satisfying than hearing the gore of chainsaw being brutally brought down on an enemy, as well as seeing it.
Everything about this game is enjoyable from start to finish. The gameplay is absolutely amazing, and the sheer amount of ways you can kill an enemy makes the fun last for what seems like forever. From the UI on the main menu to the boss fights in game, this game seems to have had perfect care put into it to make it the best it could be. I would highly recommend this game to anyone who wasn't completely sold by the trailer.
Speaking of trailers, you can watch some below:
Who Wants Some Wang Trailer
Original Shadow Warrior 2 Launch Trailer
Shadow Warrior 2 on Xbox One Trailer
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