Remakes, especially 90’s video game remakes, are a common theme in this day and age. When I think of a 90’s remake of a loved franchise, I instantly think of Duke Nukem Forever, and instantly feel myself become disappointed. Not because Duke Nukem was a franchise I didn’t warm to, because I did. I’m filled with disappointment because the reboot was quite simply awful, and a complete let down to those who loved and remembered the original. It’s not only Duke Nukem that has had a re-birth over recent years.
Wolfenstein is a good example of a remake that actually has worked out rather well recently, although it certainly didn’t capture the nostalgia and feel of the original for me. Shadow Warrior is another classic first-person shooter from the 90’s that has been subjected to a reboot on Xbox One, and I’m pleased to say, developer Flying Wild Hog have done a fantastic job with Lo Wang’s latest adventure.
The first thing you’ll notice after about 30 minutes playing time is that everything that made 3D Realms 1997’s Shadow Warrior so good, hasn’t been watered down. You play as Lo Wang. A hired assassin who attends a meeting to purchase a unique samurai sword called Nobitsura Kage. Things don’t go as smoothly as Lo Wang had hoped and you are quickly reaching for your Katana and slicing an abundance of enemies to shreds. Swinging your samurai sword towards the oncoming enemy results in some gloriously gory executions, all while Lo Wang subjects you to a sarcastic, humorous commentary that keeps you amused.
As the story progresses you learn that you must save the world from an abundance of demons that have entered Earth, and to do this you will need to find three parts of the legendary Nobitsura Kage sword. However, you are not alone in your quest to bring peace on Earth, as you are quickly partnered with a smart talking demon called Hoji. When Hoji eventually integrates with Lo Wang, you are not only able to showcase some bad-ass sword and gun skills, but also use demon powers to assist you on your mission. The banter between the two is also very well done, and easily one of the highlights of the game.
Shadow Warrior’s combat system is smart, and easy to master quite quickly. Each weapon you use can be upgraded via spending money which you will find searching chests and draws on each stage you play. By finding crystals, you’re able to upgrade Lo Wang’s demonic powers. Typically you’ll want to upgrade your health bar for example, especially since the enemies are plentiful and do produce a challenge as the game progresses. It’s not so much that each enemy is particularly difficult to overcome, it’s more that enemies typically attack in hordes, so you can quickly become outnumbered. If you upgrade your skills smartly, and think logically what weapon to equip yourself with when you face trouble, you’ll clear each stage with not too much bother. Once you start to unlock new powers, you’ll have to learn certain combos to put them into effect. A few swipes to the right or left of the PS4’s touch pad, followed by a trigger press will successfully see you unleash a spell. Points are scored out of five for each battle you fight in. By using different weapons, and mixing up your attacks, you’ll score a higher total meaning more experience points to upgrade Lo Wang’s skills.
Graphically Shadow Warrior is beautiful on PlayStation 4. The environments look sleek and are very well designed. From the temples, to the gardens, it’s easy to just want to explore each area as thoroughly as possible. There were several times I just enjoyed and admired the level design, before quickly having to reach for my blade again, turning the experience back from peace and tranquillity to blood soaked madness.
Shadow Warrior focuses its energy on the things it’s good at. Quite frankly, the story takes a back seat, because as strange as it may sound, it’s not all that important. It’s not important because you’ll be having way too much fun slicing and blasting your way through each stage, all while being subjected to some fantastically well produced animations and visuals. The story and plot certainly isn’t deep, but from Lo Wang’s intelligent and frequently funny dialogue, to the fortune cookies you’ll find in each level that give you hilarious life advice, everything that made classics like the 90’s Shadow Warrior so good has been replicated superbly here.
Most importantly, in a generation where realism and seriousness is becoming more frequent in video games, Shadow Warrior takes a different direction, and makes its primary objective to just be fun. You’ll smile a lot playing this game, and if you want to pick up a title that just wants you to enjoy yourself without being too serious, then I recommend you check out Shadow Warrior.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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