You would think a demon-slaying Ninja would be the epitome of justice, honor and stoicism, right? Well, if you played any of the previous Shadow Warrior games, you’d know that Lo Wang is a sassy, wise-cracking, irreverent individual. Love him or hate him, he’s back for more slashing and gunning goodness in Shadow Warriors 2. Following on from the rebooted Shadow Warrior back in 2013, Shadow Warrior 2 picks up after the world-saving events of the previous game. Lo Wang is now a mercenary for the local Yakuza gang in the town of Calamity, and one fateful mission fuels his next big adventure.
Shadow Warrior 2, much like the previous game in the reboot series, is a first-person shooter that throws players into a beautiful world, filled to the brim with demons. In Shadow Warrior 2, the world has been fused with the demon realm, due to the events from the first game. This leads to some incredibly breath-taking skyboxes with abstract demonic artifacts and objects floating around. The world shifts through weather systems and day-night cycles, which makes missions unique.
When it comes to combat, there are three types of weaponry available: melee, ranged and chi. While these three existed in the previous game, Shadow Warrior 2 has over 70 different weapons to collect and use. New to the series, are the ability to climb up walls, the ability to double jump and the removal of fall damage. This, combined with the varied amounts of weaponry, leads to a much more fluid gameplay experience. Such fluidity can still pose a problem, however, for some players who could easily disorientate themselves in the midst of the chaotic slew of enemies on screen while using melee weaponry.
To further enhance the versatility of weapons, the game features an upgrade system that allows players to slot in three gems that can simply power up a weapon through stat changes, elemental reinforcement or changing the fire mode. For instance, I grew heavily attached to my trusty auto shotgun which happened to have explosive icy rounds that reload quickly and had a smaller spread. Such variety means players will no doubt have different ways to build any of the weapons available in the game. Additionally, as the player completes missions and kill enemies for experience, Lo Wang can pick up skill points which can be allocated to various abilities, including ammo drops, health rate and more.
Addressing the 75 weapons: every single one is unique. They are categorized under weapon types such as swords, short blades, light firearms, medium firearms, shotguns, heavy firearms, launchers, projectile weapons and special weapons. While this seems like a means to re-skin 9 different weapons, each is slightly distinct due to the different stats and abilities that are unique to the weapon. For example, the ‘Yumi’ bow has a 5% chance to change an enemy into a harmless rabbit, while the much stronger ‘Bullseye & Barton’ bow offers an increased 10% chance upon hitting a critical. Adding on to the fact that gems can be slotted to increase the chances, every weapon is still viable. So, while some weapons may appear obsolete, depending on circumstances, having the Yumi could help in dispatching ridiculously strong enemies in an instant, where as it may take several shots for the Bullseye & Barton.
Speaking of strong enemies, there are four difficulties to the game. The hardest is exceptionally brutal, to the point where enemies deal 70% more damage and have over 90% more health, with increased resistance, than the standard difficulty. Generally, this means enemies become insane bullet sponges. In games where the player will be swarmed by enemies, trying to complete mission objectives might possibly become a tedious journey. This is certainly the case in multiplayer.
Shadow Warriors 2 features the ability to drop in to a 4 player co-op multiplayer game with players online. Unfortunately, in order to balance the game, the difficulty needs to spike. This balance occurs by default and is not scaled by how many players are currently on the server. Therefore, unless you grab friends together, or form a party before starting a mission, it is a huge mistake to jump into a multiplayer game. Fortunately, the difficulty levels themselves can be reduced in the middle of a mission.
While the game takes place a few months after the final events of the first title, the change to the world is not formally addressed by any character until the end. Instead, players can find message logs from several individuals who speak about life after the ‘Collision’. These include tabloid articles about Zilla Corporation and their impact on the war between humans and demons, short stories from the Yakuza, and even smaller stories told from different perspectives. While the gameplay is enjoyable, the hidden treasure is most definitely these slivers of lore, which help to bring more depth into the game.
As a whole, the mechanics are well polished. There were, however, a few instances of glitches and bugs that allowed players to glitch out of the world. Luckily these weren’t game breaking, and could be resolved easily without too much concern. The team at Flying Wild Hog has been actively responding to feedback and sending out patches as these cases have been reported in. While these fixes are quickly dispatched, the fact remains, that the game has its fair share of issues.
While the quick-paced combat and the crude sense of humor in Shadow Warrior 2 can easily overshadow the actual depth of the game. The hidden layer of story and lore, as well as the incredible level of personalization, makes it a lot more complex than what is on the surface.