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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (449)

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Armada 3.5/5
Detroit: Become Human 4/5
Destiny 2 4/5
Horizon: Zero Dawn 4.5/5
Oxenfree 4/5
Murdered: Soul Suspect 3/5
Kirby Star Allies 3/5
Celeste 4.5/5
Dark Quest 2 3/5
Just Cause 3 3.5/5
Guacamelee! 2 4/5
The Incredible Adventur... 4/5
Rise of the Tomb Raider 4/5
Dead Rising 3 4/5
Layers of Fear 3.5/5
Prey 3/5
Zero-K 2/5
Tales from the Borderla... 4/5
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 4.5/5
Hammerwatch 3/5
AereA 1/5
Divinity: Original Sin 4.5/5
The Yawhg 4/5
Sword Coast Legends 3.5/5
Spelunky 2.5/5

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Shadow Warrior 2   PC (Steam) 

The Wang is Strong with This One    3.5/5 stars

Modern FPS games tend to follow the same pattern - your Call of Modern Division Duty Warfare if you will. Those who search, however, can find a diamond in the morass. While Flying Wild Hog may not get the attention of their more flashy brethren, Shadow Warrior 2 is certainly something different. The humor is even more juvenile than the Borderlands game (which is both a boon and detriment) but it is the options they give you that really sets this apart from the never-ending parade of banal military shooters. Want to run and gun? Great, this game is for you! Want to get up close and personal and cut down enemies with a samurai sword? Great, this game is for you! Want to stay half a map away from an enemy and snipe him from a distance? Great, this game is for you! What it doesn't have is strong pvp multiplayer and, you know what, that is perfectly find with me.

Presentation: Shadow Warrior 2 looks perfectly fine. It's not going to break the mold with its character models or voice acting, but it is completely competent. Credit to Jason Liebrecht (a long-time voice actor you probably don't recognize by name, but has been in a lot of shows) for giving main character Lo Wang (yes, that is his name) a cheeky, sarcastic and super juvenile performance that, while his catch phrases get old, never get boring (You mess with the bull, you get the Wang - just one of the gems you'll encounter). While the human-like enemies are pretty generic (whether they be the Yakuza or futuristic tech soldiers) the demonic enemies are much more interesting. From giant-mawed demons, half-naked robots, snake dudes or massive blobs - the variety is pretty impressive.

Granted, the game seems to have one major flaw we found. Elemental effects (of which there are many) can, and will, cause the game to crash. It happened enough that I have to knock it down a peg and even the hilarious message (Your computer can't handle the Wang) doesn't make up for this flaw. Look, I actually have a decent computer at this time and it still dropped me numerous times. Plus, since I was the host for this particular game if it dropped me and we hadn't saved in awhile, it meant some major backtracking. The game also had issues with putting quest items, and even optional bosses, in unobtainable places. This happened on at least three occasions and was also super annoying, having to play the entire quest over. People may complain that I didn't always follow the map (I tended to have more fun just randomly destroyed all objects around me - hey, I'm a simple man with simple pleasures) but if an item somehow drops below the floor and I can actually pick it up - that's totally not my fault.

The game does have random levels, but it's not entirely original. Most level designs are recycled a few times over, so even if the path is different, the layout is the same. The levels look okay - caves, forests, a futuristic city-scape - but things do tend to get a bit repetitive by the end of the game. It's not outstanding but works well enough.

Story: A lot of FPS games are light on the story and heavy on the weaponry. Shadow Warrior 2 gives you a little meat on this bone. Apparently during the course of the first game (I have not played yet) our hero, Lo Wang, was responsible for an event known as The Collision that essentially caused the world of gods and demons to merge with the human world - nearly ending civilization in the process. Due to this event, things have been warped, black ooze flows from the ground and demons roam freely. Lo Wang, mercenary for hire, finds himself in this brave new world working for the Yakuza. When he is tasked with rescuing a bosses daughter (Kamiko) from a mad scientist, it seems cut-and-dried, only she is no ordinary girl and eventually her soul becomes trapped within Lo Wang himself (leading to some very interesting conversations). With the help of his mentor, Smith (a swordsmith, wouldn't you know), Wang hopes to separate Kamiko from his body, saving both in the process. Of course, things don't go as smoothly as all that, and Wang finds himself in a battle amidst gods and demons while Kamiko's body is transformed into a deadly beast even as her soul resides in his body.

The game is also an endless barrage of terrible jokes, sarcastic remarks and unapologetic insults. Wang is not a hero, and he doesn't mind telling you off at every opportunity. The game almost tries too hard to make Wang-related jokes (and no, that sentence wasn't meant to be a joke itself, although....). The humor may turn off some more sensitive souls, but damn them, dick and fart jokes are as old as time, just because the game celebrates them doesn't make it less impressive.

Gameplay: It's a FPS first and foremost, but with a twist. You see, I found melee weapons (especially early on) to be just as good - if not more powerful - than the guns you are given. Nothing is as much fun as wading into a group of enemies and chopping or beating them down. Swords, bats, chainsaws, claws - these are just as important as the handguns, machine guns, sniper rifles and shotguns you find. You also get specialty attacks that only work with melee weapons and, while I admit, I didn't use these as often as I should, it makes these integral to your attack strategy.

Weapons are just one part of your strategy, however. Wang also has Chi which powers a variety of attacks. As I said, some of these are melee based but others turn you invisible, heal you or even impale enemies for a time where you can whale on them. What is more, you can insert a variety of gems into your weapons and even armor that give you boosts to a lot of stats: critical, rate of fire, reload, elemental damage and even ones that are specific to multiplayer. Some of the best, however, give you incredible benefits - but also drawbacks. Increase melee damage at the expense of gun damage - and the like. So there is a fair bit of strategy involved. Certain enemies have inherent elemental vulnerabilities and weaknesses, so you may want to make certain weapons highly elemental (fire, ice, electric and toxic). You can also tweak things to give either big or small enemies more damage. But the most important may be those that grant health regen and increased xp. There are even specialty gems that turn a weapon into an automated turret, give it explosive ammo or simply fire more barrels. These also have drawbacks - but it also makes them incredibly powerful. It's nice to see this kind of strategy over Borderland's "moar gunz!" style of weaponry and is one of the big selling points for the game.

Finally, the game benefits both casual and hardcore players. You can dial the difficulty down, making for some easy kills with minimal challenge, or you can dial it up and have massive bullet-sponge enemies. This difficulty slide also affects the type of gems that are dropped as higher-level difficulties give you higher-rarity (and increased drop rate) of the better gems. After playing a few weeks, we settled on a difficulty that provided a good challenge, but wasn't punishing. Enemies weren't complete bullet sponges that did almost no damage, rather, they were buff enough to pose a threat while providing just the right amount of challenge to take down.

Replayability: With multiple difficulty levels, Shadow Warrior 2 has plenty of incentive to play a few times over. While the guns never change, your abilities and the upgrades to those guns will and on higher levels, enemies are truly nightmarish. But, for those who enjoy the challenge, it is certainly there. Plus, I don't believe there is a level cap - so knock yourself out!

Overall: Shadow Warrior 2 is crass and juvenile but it's also a worthwhile FPS, with elements that separate it from the crowd (in a good way). If you friends aren't uptight about humor and don't mind an occasional bug or two, it's a good choice.

Presentation: 3.5/5
Story: 3/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replayability: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 3.5/5



Recent Comments
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Nelson Schneider

Nelson Schneider- wrote on 05/07/18 at 07:07 PM CT


I still think you lowballed the overall score a bit, despite nailing the rest of it.

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