Lo Wanging Fruit
HIGH The crude playground humor is a perfect fit…
LOW …but it gets tiresome by the end.
WTF I didn’t know a body could be cut into that many pieces.
Don’t go into Shadow Warrior 2 with any notion that it’s going to be a serious game. Stan Bush plays during the intro, the violence is way over-the-top, and the protagonist is named Lo Wang.
All of these things and more should clue everyone in to what this title is trying to be — and it works for a while — but this looter/shooter’s high is fleeting as the wealth of penis jokes start to grate on the nerves. Don’t get me wrong, I love a little crude humor, but Shadow Warrior 2 is over-saturated with it. Yes, the wisecracks are funny at first but after a few hours, laughter was reduced to mild chuckles. A few hours more, and then I was only mustering lopsided grins. By the time credits rolled after 12 or so hours, I was numb to it all.
The plot is thin. Without getting into too many details, Wang is hired to rescue Kimiko, a scientist held against her will at a stereotypically evil corporation. Something goes wrong, she gets hit with a curse, and in an attempt to save her, she has her soul put into Wang’s body. Kimiko’s literal ‘voice of reason’ is supposed to act as a foil to Wang’s childishness, but most of the time it’s just bickering between the two with Kimiko occasionally throwing in a bit of exposition. Their banter had a few good moments, but the idea of having a companion that constantly chimes in has been done better by many other games.
While the story is forgettable, the combat is better… if only marginally so. Wang is extremely acrobatic, able to double jump, dash, and leap around his enemies while shooting and slashing them to pieces. Literal pieces, I might add, as humans and demons explode into showers of bone and viscera when they die. Shadow Warrior 2’s gore rains down in buckets.
To become said human Cuisinart, Wang has access to a ridiculous amount of weaponry. Knives, katanas, bows, spiked knuckles, revolvers, rocket launchers, miniguns, assault rifles, chainsaws… almost any weapon I could think of was present in some fashion. This is where the ‘looter’ aspect of this shooter comes in. Just like in Borderlands or Diablo, Shadow Warrior 2 has an extensive pickup system that had me constantly upgrading my arsenal with the newer and stronger toys. I eventually found my favorite loadout, but what worked for me may be different for others. The variety here is great.
While playing through the handcrafted main missions was a joy, the side missions leave something to be desired. Each of these optional quests take place in procedurally-generated levels — another trait the game shares with Diablo. While it can potentially add replay value for those who take advantage of the multiplayer (up to four can work as a team) it never clicked for my lone wolf playstyle. The randomized areas never felt like they made much architectural sense, and were noticeably inferior to how well the main mission flowed.
Another problem I ran into with these side missions is that the bosses are clearly scaled to be taken on by a group. While never difficult or overpowered, they’re massive damage sponges. Fights drag on for far too long, and many rely on the same mechanic of popping an invulnerable shield up at certain health milestones, and keeping it up until a swarm of additional threats were dispatched. With three other Wangs this type of fight would be no problem, but for one single, lonely Wang, the effort was never worth the payoff.
In the end, Shadow Warrior 2 isn’t a bad game, it’s just not a really good one, either. It delivers a laugh or two, but in a few years, I’ll struggle to remember that I even played it. Pick it up during a sale or during a dry spell in the new release schedule, but there are plenty of other titles more deserving of attention at the moment. Rating 6.0 out of 10.0
Disclosures: This game is developed by Flying Wild Hog and published by Devolver Digital. It is currently available on PC with PS4 and XBO versions out early next year. This copy of the game was obtained via Publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 12 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. Only one hour was spent with the multiplayer.
Parents: This game does not appear to be rated by the ESRB, but let me assure you, it would most certainly get an M rating if it were. Excessive blood, violence, dismemberment, sexual humor, body humor, demonic sex-tapes, Stan Bush, and penis motifs are all over every inch of this game. Not for kids in any way, shape or form.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game does feature subtitles and sound isn’t required to play at all. are you sure? turn the sound off and see how tough it is.
Remappable Controls: For the PC, the game is completely remappable on mouse and keyboard.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.