Replay Value: 7.8
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Number Of Players: 1
You know, if you say first-person shooters havenít really changed over the years, youíre either painfully unobservant or youíre not old enough. While the basic control scheme remains relatively similar (despite alterations to precision and weight), the biggest change is simple: Shooters are more serious now. All of gaming is more serious. Thatís why itís nice to get a carefree, blood-drenched shooter that reminds us of a simpler time. There are a few elements developer Flying Wild Hog couldíve left back in the Ď90s but even so, the reimagined Shadow Warrior is a nostalgic blast from the past.
This title may be a remake of a 1997 video game but the graphics definitely are not Ď90s. In fact, this colorful, nicely detailed presentation looks great on the PlayStation 4; blood spurts with comical redness and wetness, the animations and special effects are awesome, and the frame rate doesnít skip a beat. Okay, so the overall game design is a little outdated, as the admittedly pretty environments donít yield much in the way of interesting diversions. Itís a little too straightforward in this respect but again, itís just something else thatíll pull on the olí FPS heartstrings.
The sound is quite technically accomplished as well, as the humorous voice performances meld with the over-the-top combat effects. The soundtrack is pure tongue-in-cheek slickness throughout and at no point do you think youíre playing an archaic game. The concept is old-fashioned and that can bleed into the experience, hampering oneís enjoyment, but the graphics and sound come together nicely. Theyíre stylish, fitting, and quite well orchestrated, so old-school gamers get exactly what they appreciate: A game that plays like the í97 Shadow Warrior but looks and sounds a heckuva lot better.
Ah, mindless shooters. Before we took on terrorists within an ultra-realistic, ultra-gritty military theme, we ran around blasting hideous beasts with ridiculously huge weapons. And hey, remember things like key cards and magically sealed doors that you canít open right away? Do you recall playing the old Duke Nukem or DOOM titles and saying to yourself, ďman, I wonder what this will look like in fifteen or twenty yearsĒ? Do you remember when the protagonist was a ludicrous caricature and nothing he did or said could be taken seriously? If youíre grinning right now, you owe it to yourself to download this bad boy.
If you played the original title, you know Lo Wang. Heís out to purchase an ancient sword called the Nobitsura Kage for his employer, Orochi Zilla. Heís under orders to get that sword at all costs; even if it isnít for sale, Lo Wang still has to get it. What ensues is a hilarious bloodbath consisting of de-limbing, decapitations, absurd situations, silly one-liners, and a rousing blend of melee sword-based combat and standard FPS craziness. However, itíd be a mistake to assume that the game is completely devoid of depth and strategy. Again, itís an older concept but we still get an updated experience.
For instance, you can invest upgrade points, find collectibles, and execute your special Ki abilities. The latter includes a unique healing maneuver that comes in awfully handy, especially because there usually arenít any good hiding places. Certain enemies are easier to take down with certain weapons and of course, given the totally unrealistic vibe, youíll always have access to everything you pick up. Being able to upgrade your weapons helps a lot, too, and itís satisfying to see how much more effective an upgraded firearm is during battle. Each one has an alternative fire as well, so this isnít exactly Wolfenstein 3D. Thereís some depth.
And that depth doesnít overstep its bounds, either. The developers knew precisely what they wanted to produce, and they wanted to remain faithful to the FPS construct from yesteryear. They did just that. Itís brainless and even adolescent on the surface and itís in stark contrast to the shooters of today. Thereís more substance lurking beneath that pubescent surface, but it still feels a lot like a vivacious, no-holds-barred shooter that cracks jokes and takes no prisoners. Hoji, your sidekick for the violent quest, contributes to the comedic presentation and assists you in your search for ďwhisperersĒ (magical golems holding memories), and this floating demon head perfectly fits the style and ambiance.
The comedy was somewhat racially driven in the original title; that humor has been scaled back to focus more on Lo Wangís goofy character as opposed to his ethnicity. Thatís probably a good idea, given the land of political correctness in which we now live. The narrative isnít anything special and really, if weíre going to stay faithful to shooter trends from generations ago, it shouldnít be special. The focus remains firmly on combat, whether youíre slicing and dicing or filling your enemies with countless bullet holes. You move about at top speed and youíre frequently besieged by lots of foes, which is another trend weíve left behind.
Itís not Serious Sam insanity but sometimes itís close. Perhaps best of all is the arsenal, as the available weapons are just bad-ass. Theyíre not supposed to be authentic or supremely balanced; theyíre just supposed to wreak all sorts of otherworldly havoc and thatís precisely what they do. Yes, those military shooters have lots of weapons but theyíre not exactly colorful or fun. Remember the BFG? If you do, and if you love using weapons that defy all known mandates of physics and reality, youíll appreciate what this game throws at you. Yeah, blow stuff up. Doesnít really matter how, just blow it up.
Shadow Warrior is fun as sh**. The level design isnít very good and there are a few old-fashioned trends we couldíve done without (toxic balls that explode when close enough really suck). And despite the extra substance, there still isnít that much content here. Even so, if you consider the developerís goal, you have to applaud the result. This is indeed a Ď90s shooter with a fresh coat of paint (lots of blood-red paint, of course) and all the kookiness that we always used to enjoy. Provided you can accept the other drawbacks consistent with the older concepts and themes, Shadow Warrior will deliver in spades.
The Good: Sharp, colorful visual presentation. Gut-wrenching sound effects, slick music, and decent voice performances. Control remains smooth and fast throughout. Fantastic arsenal. Super high fun factor. An old-school feel with a fresh count of paint = outstanding!
The Bad: Level design is a little too outdated. Can feel somewhat repetitive and uninspired. Not all the jokes are good.
The Ugly: ďBloody isnít Ďugly,í in this case.Ē