I don’t normally like first person shooters. Perhaps it’s because I’m not all that good at them. Truth be told, I can’t be all that bad at them either, since I managed to get through Deus Ex Human Revolution without too many reloads. That said, I also didn’t do too much shooting, so perhaps that had something to do with it.
Shadow Warrior is not a game about subtlety. The enemies you face are mindlessly stupid and come at you with nary an evasive tactic, the action is bloody and bodies are just there to be diced and cubed to your satisfaction. It’s a pretty simple game at heart. You’re the unstoppable hero and there is a horde of demons in your way. Your arsenal includes a katana and a whole lot of upgradeable guns, special attacks and powers. This formula equals lots of fun, but only in shortish bursts. Also, there is a storyline, but who cares? Shoot, cut, rinse and repeat is the motto of the game.
The fun in short bursts comes mainly because the main thrust of the game – the combat – is quite repetitive and the level design isn’t what you would call inspired, especially in the first part of the game where the levels were literally temples with bamboo forests in between. The variety of enemies in the game is quite limited, but follow most of the tropes of computer gaming. You have your usual dumb foot soldiers, guys with shields, guys that can grab you and pull you in as well as enemies that can resurrect their minions. You even have big bosses with armoured weak points.
On the other hand, the weapons at your disposal are quite good and shoot the usual array of explosives, fire and bullets you come to expect from a shoot’em’up. The weapon you’ll use the most, however is your sword. It has multiple special attacks – which must be unlocked of course – but it is the most versatile and useful weapon in your arsenal. I found that there weren’t many situations where guns were absolutely required and they were more situational than anything else.
I might complain the combat is repetitive, but it’s the old style first person shooter characteristics in Shadow Warrior that make this game so enjoyable. There are no deformable environments, no multiplayer levels and certainly no prepubescent snots railing at you with words that would make a sailor blush. Instead, you get your character Lo Wang trading barbs with the demon Hoji and generally making smart alec remarks whilst slicing, dicing and exploding things. It doesn’t take things too seriously and numerous pop culture references are made throughout.
Of all the first person shooters I’ve played, this has to be one of the better, more lighthearted ones I’ve come across. It’s fun, funny at times and is just the sort of mindless stress relief one needs after a long day at work. If you don’t need to go online to show your prowess, but you do enjoy a little bit of violence with devil-may-care attitude and a sense of humour, you will enjoy this game. A lot.