GAME REVIEW: SHADOW WARRIOR / DEVELOPER: FLYING WILD HOG / PUBLISHER: DEVOLVER DIGITAL / PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
A remake of the 1997 Duke Nukem-inspired shoot 'em up, retooled and remade with a modern sheen for our next-gen day and age. Don't worry though – none of the characteristic violence, gore or crude knob gags have been lost in translation. Shadow Warrior could quite easily pass for something made during the nineties.
As with its fairly forgotten predecessor, Shadow Warrior has players stepping into the blood-spattered shoes of ninja mercenary Lo Wang (wang, geddit?), battling hordes of murderous demons and furious gangsters alike. With a combination of katana sword, brutal firepower and mystic oriental magic, it owes as much to Kill Bill as it does Doom – no matter how repetitive the game gets (and it grows old rather fast) there's an undeniable charm to be had in slicing your enemies into itty bitty pieces with a massive samurai sword, then blasting the rest of them away with an enormous great gun. There's the magic too, but that's a bit of a chore to use.
The sleazy retro chic has worked well for other faux-throwback (fauxback?) games like Shadows of the Damned, Lollipop Chainsaw and Wet, glossing over their numerous problems with gimmicky gameplay, cinematic visuals and gleefully crude writing – the fun culminating in 2010's wonderful Lovecraft horror Splatterhouse. Even within the limitations of its throwback gimmick, then, Shadow Warrior could have been great – think the energy of old school Doom and Duke Nukem, combined with the powerful graphics capabilities of PS4 and Xbox One era gameplay. It's a shame that the game actually looks like an early PS3 effort and plays like a PS2 shoot 'em up. And not even a particularly great one, at that.
There's a noticeable lack of detail to the graphics, lazy character design, dodgy voice acting and uninspired environments. Things explode and occasionally even shatter when you shoot at them, but it never threatens to immerse - the story and characters as simplistic as they come. Make no mistake, it's fun enough for what it is, but that's not even nearly worth the hefty price tag. That's, like, £5 per 'Wang' joke.
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