The Shadow Warrior reboot from Devolver Digital and Flying Wild Hog was one of 2013's greatest surprises, a game that paid loving tribute to the original 3D Realms release, while carving out a little legacy of its own with stellar level design, unmatchable carnage and old-school gameplay straight out of the Duke Nukem era. So when I heard that the duo was coming back for more with Shadow Warrior 2, I jumped at the chance to check it out. Because, you know, who doesn't like more Wang? (The character, mind you, not the…ahem, let's move on.)
The first thing you'll be happy to know about the sequel is that it maintains the same level of destructive status quo as the original. In fact, it doubles upon it, as you can turn enemies into bloody sushi with a few well-timed swipes or firing a number of the creative weapons available within the game. In fact, there's bloody satisfaction that comes from cutting your enemies down to size, while at the same time continuing on through the game's bloody campaign till the very end.
A quick note – Shadow Warrior 2 is definitely a game to be taken lightly. It doesn't nearly have the seriousness of, say, Titanfall 2 or Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, but, boy, does that work in the game's benefit. You'll often deal with Lo Wang's shenanigans, as well as that of his new female companion, a daughter of a Yakuza boss whose spirit is a lot more wily than the actual person was in real life, with a smile on your face. That's the way it should be, as Shadow Warrior 2 often comes up as nothing but big, bloody fun.
The decision you make with the game's storyline is pretty much laid out, but you can choose which weapon upgrades and abilities you'll use over the course of your game. There are a number of these available, and a wide variety of them provide great satisfaction, whether you prefer up-close devastation, or letting your long-range weapons do the dirty work. There are also plenty of free-roam areas to get your bloodshed on, in case you feel like kicking back and simply letting Wang cut everyone down. Hey, we've all had stressful days where a game like this provides a welcome – if somewhat blood-stained – relief.
What's more, the game's loot system has been nicely advanced, so you can pick up plenty of stuff killing enemies in both story and side missions, and collecting a few extra goodies that will make you the ultimate bad-ass. With over 70 different weapons available (including some of the best swords you'll find in a video game, along with some guns that do a ton of damage), you'll be able to mix and match and see what works best to your advantage. Whatever way you go, though, be prepared for the carnage. Seriously. You'll be painting the damn walls.
Shadow Warrior 2's combat is the best thing the game has going for it. While it's fairly balanced (and a pain on higher difficulties, natch), it's wonderfully done, as you can mix and match weapons and cut loose on a range of enemies any way you see fit. True, it's easy to be overwhelmed in some places (and thus, costing Wang a life or two), but the way that you turn your enemies into grass while you're the lawnmower is incredible. Especially when you involve the chainsaw. No game makes you feel more like Ash from Ash vs. Evil Dead like this game does. We almost expected quotes from him, to be honest.
Just one word of advice. To get maximum performance out of the game, you'll want to make sure you get a GTX 1080 in place. Anything lower and the game runs at kind of a crawl, considering its sense of detail and all. Once you get to that level, though, you'll find Shadow Warrior 2 to be a shockingly good-looking game, running at a smooth frame rate with beautiful level designs and a whole bunch of varied enemies coming at you. They can be slightly repetitive, but who cares since you're turning them all into hamburger anyway.
The sound is surprisingly awesome as well, with great music bits that play throughout each stage, along with Wang's consistent quips (most of them good, only a couple of groaners) and a whole lot of carnage noises to keep you occupied. Can't really ask for more than that.
If you're all about single-player carnage in a first-person shooter, or you just want something that lets you do more with select amounts of cutlery, Shadow Warrior 2 certainly doesn't disappoint. It moves at a clip on the right hardware (and if you don't have it, relax, the game's coming to consoles early next year), and the gameplay is just as fun as the original game, if not more so based on its assortment of weaponry. You'll have a good time with it, as this game can really let loose with Wang. (Mind that comment – just too easy to pass up.)
RATING: 4 out of 5 stars.