Shadow Warrior 2 Review

Richard Walker

“Prepare yourself for a tsunami of stupid.” Never a more apt line has been uttered to perfectly encapsulate Shadow Warrior 2, a sequel every bit as batshit mental, over-the-top sweary, wilfully daft and gore-filled as the first game. Perhaps that's all you need to know in order to be convinced to part with your cash and pick it up. A lot bigger than its predecessor, Flying Wild Hog has expanded Shadow Warrior's world with a hub area shooting off into a raft of story missions, side quests and bounties. Bigger isn't always necessarily better, though.

This rings somewhat true for Shadow Warrior 2, which preserves the first game's balls-to-the-wall katana-based slicing and dicing while juggling a ridiculous arsenal of guns and other deadly melee weapons. And it can prove to grow more than a little repetitive, especially across such lengthy levels, where you're constantly bombarded by evil demons, Zilla Enterprises' cybernetic guards and Yakuza assassins. It can get ludicrously chaotic at times, as blood, guts and an insane, eye-hurting amount of loot flies at the screen.

As in the first game, you play as shogun-for-hire Lo Wang, this time lumbered with the responsibility of having the soul of cursed scientist Kamiko living in his head, providing constant wry asides to her vessel throughout the story. The interplay between the two can be a little annoying at times, while Wang's juvenile one-liners and dick jokes add characteristic colour to the relentless limb dismemberment, chainsaw violence and bullet-spraying madness.

The open narrative allows you to engage in story missions and side activities, most of which involve fetching an item of some sort for Master Smith or whoever. The bounty board situated in the Wang Cave also grants access to more busywork, like killing an array of different enemies like Bunny Lords or drug-addled Shade Fanatics, or collecting stuff in exchange for XP, currency and items, while some fairly deep RPG systems flesh out the otherwise straight-up, undiluted arcade-style butchery.

Wang has a plethora of skills at his disposal in Shadow Warrior 2, from his staple double jump, dash and various swordplay abilities, to more advanced magic available to unlock and subsequently upgrade. Levelling up and completing missions grants skill points that can be poured into Wang's range of skills, and until you're sufficiently levelled, the game will recommend pursuing side missions before taking the plunge for further story objectives.

Earning 'zillyen' also enables you to purchase new weapons and upgrades, not that you'll need to, as you'll find them scattered all over Shadow Warrior 2's levels. In fact, the game constantly hurls weapons and loot at you, meaning you can switch up your guns and melee weapons whenever you like. I went through almost the entire game without buying a thing. Then there's your Chi powers, like Grip of Darkness that impales your enemies on spikes, Vanish that renders you temporarily invisible for sneak attacks, and the Chi Blast to knock back foes.

Shadow Fury is unlocked early into the game too, granting Wang an insane super-powered state that turns the screen crimson, enabling you to carve into enemies with reckless abandon; a crazed maelstrom of blades and bullets. There's no disputing that Shadow Warrior 2 is unfettered, undiluted fun, but the action can become rather tiresome over time, essentially boiling down to the same trail of viscera-filled murderous rampaging for hours on end. Co-op play for 1-4 players makes things slightly more interesting, although you'll simply be enjoying the unending killing with friends.

As if the numerous missions weren't enough, Shadow Warrior 2 also chucks in a selection of challenging Trials too, tasking you with cleaving your way through waves of demons. Complete them all and you'll net a bunch of achievements, a handful among a list that covers the entire game, featuring far too many collectibles to grind out. Discount the horrible grinding, and this is a perfectly serviceable, if unremarkable list.

A huge sequel, Shadow Warrior 2 provides hours on end of bloodsoaked sword and gunplay, laced with silly, tongue-in-cheek humour, tightened up and much-improved controls over its predecessor, and a ton of content. Unfortunately, it's all gets a bit samey rather quickly, despite the masses of loot, a neat crafting system, co-op, bounties, and Trials. Character models are pretty ugly too, in stark contrast to the game's pretty environments.

Not a bad game by any means, the repetition mars an otherwise fun experience. Shadow Warrior 2 is something of a mixed bag then, but if it's uncomplicated shooty-bangs and blood-drenched ultra-violence that you seek, then Flying Wild Hog's sequel will most definitely scratch that itch. Think Borderlands laden with demons, cyborgs and Yakuza henchman, and you'll have a good idea of what to expect from Shadow Warrior 2. Just be sure to bear in mind that The Way of the Wang is long and hard. If you chuckled at that last line, then you should probably just go ahead and buy this.

Shadow Warrior 2

If you're in the market for simple, viscera-packed thrills, then you could do a lot worse than Shadow Warrior 2. Yes, it's a bit repetitive (it's getting repetitive writing the word 'repetitive'), but it's also a lot of fun.

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Patchy voice acting from NPCs. Wang himself provides good, stupid entertainment, while the music is also well-suited to the action. Extra kudos for bookending the game with Stan Bush tunes too.


Some fairly horrid character models amid lovely environments, Shadow Warrior 2 is a little inconsistent. The future-set levels are also a bit crap, a stark contrast to the blossom-filled forests and such.


Hacking, slashing and shooting your merry way through hordes of baddies is all kinds of dumb fun and the controls have been improved greatly since the first game. Guess what the only downside is? The repetition, of course!


Again, there's no issue with the amount of content that's been crammed into Shadow Warrior 2, it's simply that it's all the same, despite the presence of procedurally-generated levels alongside the game's scripted missions.


There are one or two interesting achievements here, but the sheer amount of grinding involved ruins the fun. Collect 10,000,000 zillyen? Amass 10,000 Masamune Orbs? On yer bike, mate.

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