Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Release Date: 10/13/2016
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The first Shadow Warrior was a lot of mindless fun that brought back the craziness of the original DOS game. It did a good job throwing great visuals, crazy monster designs, cool weapons, and that fast-paced feeling of classic FPS action. Shadow Warrior 2 really sets the series back by trying to do too much and not doing any of it very well. First off the story is just stupid and pointless. You are once again, doing jobs for the Chinese mafia and you end up stuck in some sort of family drama of a woman’s soul who gets trapped in your head and you must reunite her with her body. It’s pretty dumb and uninteresting including the barely passable voice acting and lame jokes.
After DOOM came out in 2016 it set the standard pretty high for rebooting classic 90s FPS games. Shadow Warrior 2 misses the mark in almost every way. One thing it does get right is are the awesome monster and enemy designs and cool levels as well as plenty of interesting weapons, but less is more and Shadow Warrior 2 doesn’t implement this practice. For starters, the game is incredibly repetitive and poorly balanced. You repeat the same themed levels just to meet different objectives. A couple of levels were literally repeated twice over and I just hated it. There are three different themes at play here. There’s Hell with demons and monsters, the real world with assassins and ninjas, and then a weird cyber world with robots, drones, and mechs. The monster designs are pretty awesome, but there’s no strategy to each enemy like in DOOM. In that game, you know what weapons work well against each enemy and can strategize on the fly, but here you just empty all your weapons as fast as you can starting with the most powerful.
I really hate this as this leads to more useless filler such as weapons upgrades. These are just mindless stats that boost weapons and there’s no strategy here either. There are so many of them and I literally just equipped the highest leveled ones and got rid of the rest. It honestly never mattered. Some enemies are immune or weak to certain elements, but I didn’t bother with this either. I’m not going to sit and sort through dozens upon dozens of upgrades for different enemy types. DOOM did this right with just a couple of weapon upgrades per weapon and you knew how you wanted to use these. Less is more. Then there are just the insane amount of weapons. There are different styles that match each area such as a demon, real-world, and cyber weapons. Sure they look cool, but they all mostly felt the same. They had no personality or uniqueness to them. I just picked the most powerful ones and spaced my arsenal out with one of each type. Then there are the pointless powers. I rarely ever used these as I was so busy mowing down enemies and trying not to get killed. They’re not even useful. Spikes to hold a single enemy down and it doesn’t work on larger enemies? Invisibility? Why?
So combat is pretty mindless and there’s no strategy here and the story is pretty silly and pointless. This leads to the fact that you get side quests and trials. I didn’t even bother with these. The game starts feeling like a chore less than halfway through the game. The thing is I started this game back when it came out and shelved it for years because it was just so boring and monotonous after the first few missions. I had it installed on my PC this entire time and I finally just plowed through the story in about 7 hours and I didn’t have a lot of fun. Sure, sometimes when you get the right weapon and gib a group of enemies it’s pretty satisfying. The bosses are pretty cool and felt good to take down, but these are little bites in a giant cake that just don’t taste very good. The developers should have stuck with a more linear design and fewer weapons and upgrades. Other than that the visuals are really good and the art style is great.