As I try to play older games that have a sequel coming, I finally played Shadow Warrior 2. My first thought was, “Why have I never played this game before? It’s awesome!” It’s not perfect, but it has a great action movie feel that’s funny and gory and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The story follows former corporate mercenary, Lo Wang, as he attempts to find a way to pull a girl’s soul out of his body and stop an apocalypse. I didn’t play the first game, so some of the story twists and character histories were lost on me. From my perspective, I didn’t mind. There are enough references for me to get a hint and not impair my enjoyment.
There is a hub area that’s a home base for Lo Wang in between your missions. There are shops, characters to give you missions, a bounty mission board, and a forge. There are a few other places to explore and some challenges to unlock, but it’s just a pit stop.
After teleporting to your mission, combat is part melee, part shooter, and all awesome. You can blast away with guns or cut an enemy down to size with swords or claws. There are so many weapons to find or buy, and some are taken from monsters you kill. The weapons all start with a standard idea and veer off into something slightly crazy. You can mix and match your arsenal variety on your weapon wheel to take on the different monsters and situations.
You can also improve your weapons and yourself. Each weapon has slots for inserting the little gems you find. They can improve the rate of fire, damage, ammo capacity, or add an elemental effect. Hitting a new level gives you a point that can increase your health or improve a skill. Skills utilize chi power and can be improved by adding that new point to skill cards. They vary, but it can improve areas such as your overall health or add to the ammo you find.
Mission goals are usually a matter of go here and kill everything, or kill everything and pick up this thing. It’s simple, but the combat is intense. I was blasting away with shotguns with fire effects and switching to swords when I ran out of ammo or enemies got too close. Enemies range from ugly monsters to yakuza to futuristic floating orbs of death.
The environmental arenas look great too. Each of them is a big open area for you to explore such as grassy areas, a traditional village, and a neon-soaked city. There are collectibles and resources scattered throughout, so it pays to be curious. Parts are slightly destructible, and I enjoyed seeing the damage. The only downside is that you will return to these same environments again and again in other missions, and I would have liked more variety.
Shadow Warrior 2’s dialog shines and is surprisingly funny. The dialogue can be a little crude, but the jokes land very well. A sarcastic and witty Lo Wang will drop one-liners with other characters and as you fight, and the game is always looking for ways to make you laugh and feel awesome while you play. The story and characters are more action movie fare, but still well-acted and well-written.
Technically, the game falters a bit. While playing, it seems to regularly stutter while loading or streaming assets when you cross certain lines in the levels. When it happens, it’s jarring to watch. There are some other general issues, but they’re minor.
There is one other thing that I didn’t like. The game has an ending, but it was very abrupt without much explanation. It may be in the next game, but I want games to be self-contained even if parts carry over to a sequel.
If you’ve overlooked this gem, Shadow Warrior 2 is often on sale, and it’s a great game. It’s not too long, but my time with it made me genuinely laugh and delivered plenty of shooting and slicing action. After my time with it, I can’t wait to play the next installment.
Shadow Warrior 2 PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Shadow Warrior 2 is a great ride filled with action and dialog that’s genuinely funny. There are some technical issues and an ending that needed to be fleshed out a little, but the combat is fantastic even if you’ll be seeing the same levels in later missions.
- Great combat
- A plethora of weapon choices
- Funny dialog
- Technical issues
- The ending is very abrupt
- Returning to the same environments gets old
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Reviewed using PS4 Pro.