Return of the Wang

The Way of the Wang is long, and hard, and ribbed for her pleasure.

Shadow Warrior 2 is an excellent example of everything you would want from a sequel. You’ve got deeper character development mechanics, a greater selection of upgrades, numerous skills to unlock, a greater selection of weapons (with new weapon types), and an extensive story that offers more freedom. The swordplay might even be better in the sequel, too. But, if that’s not enough, they’ve even thrown in free DLC, which will not only add new missions as you progress through the story but offer greater customisation of weapons and upgrade gems.

It’s also ridiculously fun in the silliest way possible.

The close combat options are just as enjoyable as they were in Shadow Warrior. I’m particularly keen on the dual wielding options that allow me to slice, dice, and observe giblets as my foes fall to literal pieces. You also get more chances to burn, freeze, electrocute, and poison foes when swinging these. I’m not sure what that calculated murderous intent says about me.

Upgrading weapons is a particularly important mechanic for unlocking their full potential in combat. Upgrading Wang is pretty important, too. Both of these sets of mechanics will allow you to specialise in the things you want to do best and give you the ability to handle different situations. Likewise, investing in certain skills will give you better results with certain techniques or styles of combat. Sting, Vortex, and Force Slash comprise your active weapon techniques. While Healing Flame, Chi-Blast, Grip of Darkness, and Vanish comprise your active chi techniques. Each has a specific situation in which it will perform at its best, but they’re all equally useful in helping you survive the countless demons you’ll need to slay on your lengthier adventure.

It’s a lovely day to go to the video store.

The best surprise in Shadow Warrior 2 would have to be the final boss fight music. It was one of those perfect moments in video game history, where you’re trying to take this particularly important fight seriously but you’re somewhere between smiling and laughing at the absurdity of the situation. I loved it, though. Which is, in my opinion, what makes Shadow Warrior (as a series) so great, as it never takes itself too seriously but is always enjoyable. There might be more grinding in the sequel but it’s enjoyable grinding.

Even the randomised loot was handled well.

Weapons (and some upgrade gems) will have specific statistics, while everything else will have randomised combinations of affixes which can create some truly unique (and powerful) bonuses for certain weapons. I’m not sure if it works from a set of prefixes and suffixes as an ARPG would but it does work quite well. You rarely find something that is completely useless.

That said, even if you do, you can easily reforge it with two other upgrade gems and have another chance to roll something usable. There is so much more to Shadow Warrior 2 than the previous instalment and it really helps to deliver a more enjoyable adventure. I can’t recommend it enough. I’m also starting to wonder when other first person action titles will start to employ as enjoyable close combat mechanics, rather than the repetitive left click spam. I’m particularly fond of swords in the first place but I’m more fond of them when you can do awesome things with them. Such as twirling around until you get motion sickness and your vision is clouded with blood and viscera. I’m also not sure what enjoying that sensation says about me.

Have a nice week, all!


You’ve Got Wang

Alternate title: “It’s now acceptable to play with Wang in the company of others.”

So, where to begin? Well I’d seen a little of Shadow Warrior when it was first released and saw it as a Ninja Gaiden type of game which did and didn’t interest me at the time, and it took the demo which I played in the recent Steam sale for the title to slice through my chest and right into my heart- slashing my account balance in the process- and providing me with what I would consider a thoroughly enjoyable gaming experience. It’s not the fantasy epic you’re likely to spend over a hundred hours playing but it brings back the point which so many games are missing nowadays.

Fun! You know when games used to be fun? Me too! It was the best, right?

Shadow Warrior does this very well with quirky humour, fortune cookies, the dialogue, and the fact that can develop yourself in whichever direction you want to without feeling like you’re missing out on something. I particularly enjoy the sword combat as you actually can do more than just left click and swing in the same basic fashion from Chapter 1 to Chapter 17. The introduction of combo-like moves which require to do something along the lines of tap W, W, and then hold left click to charge and then release really spice up the game for melee enthusiasts. Those particular strikes, referred to as Ki Strikes, are then empowered using the Karma you recieve from defeating enemies. Allowing you to steal health, deal more damage, drain their soul, and do any number of other similarly amazing things. It’s a nice change. It really is.

This also allows you to bridge the gap in survivability between the melee and ranged approach. To be honest, the ranged weapons are quite standard when you first get them and you’re not going to enjoy them as much as when you unlock their unique upgrade. Like the ability to fire four shells with the shotgun at once for massive burst damage or the ability to throw molten bombs of volcanic ferocity at enemies with the flame thrower. These things, when you get them, make you wonder if there’s much of a point to melee as they are rightly powerful and pretty cool. But the addition of powers that allow you to steal health and survive longer or tackle more opponents with melee makes both fairly balanced. Of course, there’s less danger with ranged but it’s not as clean cut as some games make it.

The sword itself also has a number of swing options that allow you to either play with assisted swings or to flail widely and slice, dice, maim, and chop in every direction known to man for bloody and gore-filled demon giblets goodness. Needless to say this is not one for those with a weak stomach or who don’t enjoy blood and limbs raining from the sky.

I don't think we're in Japan any more.
I know I said I needed a vacation- but this wasn’t what I had in mind, Zilla!

The story is split into several stages which give you a score at the end of each segment to let you know how many secrets you’ve found, how much money you’ve collected, how many kills, how much damage dealt, and many other neat statistics to help you develop better in the next stage or upon replaying that stage. This gives you an indication of what’s out there but doesn’t painfully detail it so there’s still an element of mystery and exploration even after you’ve finished the stages a couple of times.

Combat is fast paced and tends to be mixed into the exploration elements. At times you’ll wander, explore, climb, and solve puzzles for a while and others you’ll enter a room where everything in the general vicinity will have a taste for Wang. At the end of each round of combat you’ll get a Karma rating which builds into character development and is based on how you perform in that particular fight and what tools, weapons, skills, and powers you take advantage of. At first the combat is slow and easily tackled and you’ll feel like some kind of prodigal sword fighter but you’ll soon face even tougher and more varied waves of enemies. Including but not limited to: big demons, spiky demons, flying molten breath demons, exploding demons, demons that roll balls of green who knows what at you (that also explode), shamans, and necromancers.

Overall, it’s a title that I feel is fluid and fun. The combat is slick, fast, balanced, and you will actually want to use half of the upgrades you get. You don’t get throwaway bonuses to damage and resistances- your Wang is delicate but deadly- but you do get permanent bonuses to improve your already present skills. I wouldn’t say it’s the game for you if you’re looking for upwards of fifty hours play time. I also wouldn’t say it’s the game for you if you want perfectly solid and serious game play. It’s funny, it’s silly, it’s not for the squeamish- but it’s enjoyable. You can dip in and out of the game and always feel good about coming back as you won’t find many games with such an interesting swordplay mechanic. It’s also fairly brutal so you aren’t going to get out of most fights just swinging wildly and praying for the best.

If you ever wanted wholesome, enjoyable, demon-rending fun this could be the game for you!

Have a great day, all!