Three years ago, Flying Wild Hog created a reboot of Shadow Warrior, which was originally released in 1997 by 3D Realms. However, a reboot wasn’t enough for the new developer, and so a sequel--appropriately called Shadow Warrior 2--is in the works. This weekend at PAX East, I had a chance to try out the sequel to the reboot of the original game.
Same Guy, New World
The series’ main protagonist, Lo Wang, returns, but this time he’s a mercenary for various Yakuza factions. However, he stumbles upon a larger conflict and must rid the world of evil beings. To start out the demo, I had to take on a particular mission to obtain some magical stones. This first area served as the main hub, where you’ll return frequently in order to progress through the story.
In the sequel, each excursion places you in a procedurally generated map. The developers created many assets to populate these areas, so your third mission will be very different — at least in terms of the map’s layout — than that of another player. In addition, enemies will spawn in random areas as you move throughout the level, so you’ll have to stay alert.
Even so, you have a massive arsenal of weapons to use in order to vanquish the forces of evil. In addition to the traditional katana and curved blades, there are also various pistols, shotguns and even rocket launchers. On top of that, you can upgrade each weapon’s traits so that it deals more elemental damage. You can even wield two of the same weapon at one time.
To complement these weapons, you’ll also have a few magical abilities available. These can be useful as a method to heal yourself in a tight spot, or to get the surprise on an enemy by summoning a series of deadly spikes from the ground.
Facing The Monster
The game doesn’t have an open world, but each randomly-generated level is large enough that it feels like it can go on for miles. But there’s little time to look around, as there enemies can spring up anywhere. These flesh-colored creatures are grotesque and bear a terrifying set of large teeth, and they come in other variants, such as one with a serpent-like form, and a smaller creature that lashed out but didn’t deal that much damage. If you injured it, it could transform into a larger being before I could kill it.
In addition to these monsters, you’ll also have to deal with human-like beings. Most of them were clad in samurai armor, and even though you have an arsenal at your disposal, they still pose a threat whether they’re alone or in large numbers.
Throughout the demo, I used firearms and melee-based weapons to take out foes. Using the katana, especially, provided for some intense battles followed by a slew of blood and guts as I sliced through enemies like butter. Lo Wang is a fast and agile character, and I used that to my advantage as I scaled walls to get to otherwise unreachable locations and quickly dodged enemy attacks.
The final boss of the demo was another variant of the earlier monsters in that it was a giant behemoth of a creature. Obviously, a pistol or a pair of blades wouldn’t do the trick. Fortunately, I found a rocket launcher before I entered the fight, and with some careful dodging and patience, I eventually blew it up and looted its body for better items and currency.
Faster Than A Demon
Wang’s fast movements, combined with the intense combat, makes for many scenarios in the game where your heart is just pounding with excitement. The randomly-generated levels (and enemies) provide variety with each playthrough, even if you’re taking on the same mission again.
It’s a big departure from the first game, which had linear-based experience in terms of the levels you played. With Shadow Warrior 2, you have the opportunity to go out and explore this strange world without being pressured to focus on the story. Another major addition to the sequel is four player co-op gameplay, but we didn't see at the show floor. The short demo was impressive, without a doubt, and you won’t have to wait long to try it out, as it’s set to launch sometime this year.