By Marshall Lemon
Figuring out if you’ll enjoy Shadow Warrior 2 is simple. Did you love Shadow Warrior’s melee combat, disturbing demons, high-powered weapons, and excessive gore? If yes, you’ll already be on board with Shadow Warrior 2. This sequel offers the same core gameplay experience, along with updated visuals and a few new tools for carving a path of destruction among demonkind. You’ll face a variety of horrific monsters, carve them into little pieces, and listen to Lo Wang crack jokes along the way.
Shadow Warrior 2 takes place five years after the original game. Lo Wang’s actions have broken down the boundaries between human and demonic realms, creating a world where the supernatural and mundane co-exist. Lo Wang has been working as a hired sword for the Yakuza ever since, until a simple mission goes wrong (again), and he has to work with new allies to blah blah blah. Enough talking. How would you like to decapitate these demons: with a katana or a shotgun?
That said, Shadow Warrior 2 has a few new additions. The biggest twist is its procedural levels, generated when your mission first begins. You objectives range from collecting items to killing boss characters, and the level is created on the fly based on a specific environment set. Even day and nighttime lighting is randomly assigned to add a little extra visual flourish.
Shadow Warrior 2 actually takes the extra step to explain away these changing levels. It seems the dimensional breach between human and demon worlds is constantly changing the landscape, reshaping your surroundings every time you visit a level. That said, given how the procedural generation runs in the background, it’s entirely possible you wouldn’t have noticed until replaying the game.
Whatever the map layout, combat is still where Shadow Warrior 2’s heart can be found. Much like the retro FPS games which inspired the original, you’ll be armed to the teeth with pistols, shotguns, giant explosive weapons, and more. Your mystical powers make a comeback too, ranging from passive abilities like invisibility, or summoning giant spikes from the ground to impale enemies for a brief period. Of course, melee combat is as satisfyingly violent as ever, letting you dodge, parry, lop off limbs, and move in for the kill with individual button presses.
Between the original Shadow Warrior and Hard Reset, Flying Hog Studios has been doing a solid job of bringing classic run-and-gun shooting to modern platforms. Shadow Warrior 2 may not seem quite so revolutionary, but that’s mostly because it’s too busy having fun.
Shadow Warrior 2 will arrive for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One platforms in 2016.