Shadow Warrior 2 is a game with its tongue wedged firmly in its cheek. This is an action adventure game that is filled with humour and puns that take things far too far, luckily it is also completely self aware.
At its very core, Shadow Warrior 2 feels like a hack and slash game with guns. This is at first glance, but spend any amount of time with the game and you will discover a lot more hidden under the surface. This is indeed an action adventure game but it takes so much from the RPG genre and shoot and loot games that it could fit easily into either of these genres if it wanted to.
When you first start to play Shadow Warrior 2, the controls feel very loose which could be compared to something like Dying Light, but not as intuitive as you might like however, the control scheme only takes a little time to get used to and a quick play around in the settings will help you find the right sensitivity.
The humour starts outstraight away and gives you a taste of what the feel of this game will be. For example, the main protagonist is called Wang, leading to lots of puns on the word. Some games spend a great deal of effort crafting well formulated jokes that you can take pride in understanding. Shadow Warriors 2 doesn’t bother with this, knowing that everyone loves a good penile joke. Unfortunately this type of joke starts to run thin fairly quickly and starts to become tedious. At Times, Shadow Warrior 2 struggles to stay just one step above the likes of Duke Nukem in the humour department and it doesn’t even seem to have that much charm.
Another thing that strikes you when you start playing is the quality of the voice acting. Once again this is probably designed to add to the humour of the game but the voices just come across as stereotypical, verging towards almost racist-sounding. We are aware that most of the lines of dialogue are meant to be funny but at points it sounded like the lines were literally being read from a bumper book of jokes.
Now we’ve got all of that out of the way lets talk about the better aspects of the game. The combat at its heart, is based on the classics of the hack and slash genre which Shadow Warrior 2 does very well. The gore that erupts on the screen makes you feel as if you are really doing some damage to your enemies. Are you bored with the hack and slash lifestyle? No problem, just hold LB and select your favourite gun to dispatch your enemy with. We really liked the shotgun but then that’s just us. Oh and did we mention that one of the melee weapons that you can wield is what basically amounts to a sword made out of a chainsaw?
There is also a leveling up system for both Wang himself and the weapons that he waves around. You can earn skill points by acquiring karma from completing missions and killing enemies. These can be used to acquire passive abilities to make you all the more unstoppable and they can also be invested into some magic abilities that can help you out as well.
There isn’t a conventional skill tree in Shadow Warrior 2. Instead you use coins that you either loot in the world or buy from vendors to upgrade weapons or abilities. This gives you a sense of freedom that is missing from most RPG’s. It also means that you can be a primarily firearms-based player, upgrading your guns much more than your melee weapons, and still be effective when using a melee weapon to hack and slash your way through a horde of enemies. This gives you a variety to the way you play that can be more than a little enticing.
There are some very clever ideas applied to this game and the game play is fun although the story can be a little jarring. The way that you teleport to different areas means that sometimes you simply go from one bit of action to the next which sounds fun but lends very little to investing you in the story. You also take no fall damage in Shadow Warrior 2 which in our opinion is a stroke of genius from the developer.
Now we come to our biggest sticking point with this game. Shadow Warrior 2 costs £54.99 from the Xbox Store although currently it is listed at half price, which also includes the first game. If the price ever goes to its full price then it could be a little pricey for a game like this. Shadow Warrior 2 is fun to play and if you are willing to stick with it there is depth hidden within but £54.99 is a triple A price and this never quite feels like a triple A game.
Shadow Warrior 2 is a game filled with a lot of fun and plenty of bad humour, with depths hidden within but might not quite justify the £54.99 price tag that it has been given.