Game Pass is a treasure trove of slept-on games. There’s always some game you’ve never heard of that gets excellent reviews from the press and the community. Shadow Warrior 2 is one of those games that appears to be a slept-on gem. But after finishing the game, I have some questions about those review scores.
There was a time when characters like Lo Wang were ‘edgy.’ Foul-mouthed and quick-witted, Lo Wang has a joke for everything. He reminds me of Deadpool. I wouldn’t be surprised if Deadpool served as inspiration for his character. However, what was hilarious ten years ago is only mildly humorous today. Lo Wang is more than just quick one-liners, but the team makes him one-dimensional, and the joking gets old by the end of the game.
Shadow Warrior 2 feels like a third-person action game trapped inside of a first-person shooter. Unlike traditional FPS games that move at a slower pace, the combat in Shadow Warrior 2 is frantic. Enemies will crowd your vision as you use melee weapons or chi attacks to drive them off. If you do find yourself in close quarters, you’ll swing your sword to defeat your enemies, but if you’re like me, you’ll wonder if you’re hitting them at all. That’s the limitation with the first-person camera angle; there’s only so much action you can put on screen before it becomes overwhelming. And in Shadow Warrior 2, overwhelming happens often.
This sense of overwhelming is why I played the game like a traditional first-person shooter. Even when I became comfortable with melee, it never felt satisfying to use. Shooting felt the same way – not as precise as a Destiny or Call of Duty. The game’s reticle would consistently sway, causing me to miss shots that I would usually make in other games.
There are multiple skill cards that you can upgrade to modify your play style and gems to upgrade your weapons. You can buy weapons from vendors, earn them by completing missions and from random enemy drops. The game’s mix of systems and combat pace keeps it from getting stale, but I wish the game had tighter controls when shooting and better visual queues for melee.
Shadow Warrior 2 feels like the predecessor to many live-service games. There is a central hub where you can buy weapons and ammo and collect new quests. The same areas that you can free roam are also areas where missions take place. This semi-open world is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a positive because the free-roaming gives you more opportunities to farm weapons, drops, and materials. However, exploring the same areas repetitively makes the game grow stale.
Shadow Warrior 2 feels like a game I would have loved ten years ago. A game designed for a younger audience. One that still gets a kick out of a barrage of dick jokes and doesn’t care too much about the mechanics of a game as long as the game feels ‘cool.’ It’s a period piece, a look back at an era of game design and storytelling. It’s the old summer blockbuster with a mix of early 2000s comedy. As long as you aren’t expecting more than what it offers, it’s worth a trip on Game Pass.