The original Shadow Warrior reboot was one of the surprises of 2013. The game was irrelevant, stupid, brash and a hell of a lot of fun. With its no holds barred take on first person shooting, and a general willingness to ‘fuck it’, I was excited about news of a sequel. Unfortunately, Shadow Warrior 2 slips up in ways I wasn’t expecting.
I went into this game knowing next to nothing about it. I knew I loved the first game, and I knew they’d made a sequel with a cool trailer and I knew I couldn’t wait to play it. However, less than an hour in and I’d already began to lose interest in the game. Here’s why.
The game features some of the worst bullet sponge enemies I’ve ever had the misfortune to aim a gun at. And to make matters worse, those enemies are pushed in your direction in such high numbers that I’d often be stuck in a single firefight for 2–3 minutes. Massacring an entire horde of demonic robot ninjas should be a laugh-riot, but somehow they’ve turned it into a slow, tiresome trudge of cycling through weapons, running backwards and constantly reloading.
In the same year that DOOM blew everyone’s socks off by making combat quick, brutal and satisfying, I’m not sure there’s really an excuse for what’s going on here.
In place of a tight, linear experience they’ve opted for an open world (esque) structure that seems to be more interested in co-operative play than it is in single player. Which is fine, if you’ve got a group of friends who’ll actually be interested in playing this with you. I don’t. Now that’s not the games fault, if it’s designed to be played with friends then obviously it’s best played with friends, however it does leave solo players grinding through levels that were clearly designed for co-operative play.
Finally, let’s talk about loot. In an ideal world, Loot should add to a game, it should be something the player strives to earn. It should be desired, it should be cool, it should offer the player a chance to change things up. Warrior 2’s loot does none of that.
It’s certainly not for a lack of trying, as the game shovels loot at you as if its going out of fashion. The major mistake is that none of it is cool, interesting or even that fun to play with. It adds nothing to the experience. It’s boring, forgettable and utterly unnecessary. To the point where, 2 hours in I’d all but given up navigating the games awful UI to install upgrades to my growing arsenal of guns.
Shadow Warrior 2 tries to broaden its appeal, but in doing so they lost what made that game so appealing to in the first place. SW2 feels lifeless and full of half implemented ideas. It’s loot system fails to become anything more than an unnecessary hassle, the games open world structure results in tedium, the maps themselves are tired and lacking in character and the core act of shooting has turned into an overlong struggle against bullet spongy enemies who seem to be solely designed to slow you down.
Perhaps if I was playing the game with friends it’d fare better. Unfortunately I’m not, and so Shadow Warrior is a missed opportunity. It’s a game I likely won’t finish, and a series that has some work to do to win back my affection.