February’s first Xbox One Games With Gold title is Shadow Warrior, a first person shooter where demons known as shadow beasts are the target of most of your fire, humans take the rest. This title is a reboot of an old game.
The game starts with a video of the old Shadow Warrior game with old graphics which made me think that was what I should expect. Thankfully when the game came on properly I was greeted with a cut scene where Stan Bush’s song The Touch played as the main character drove in his car. This set a good atmosphere as the game started, putting me into a bit of an empowered mind-set.
Lo Wang is the main character. He likes his movies and because of this the game is filled with little jokes and references. The bits of silliness that came from this aspect of the character could be seen throughout the game which did well to make this feel less like a bland shooter. Lo Wang makes friends with a demon that also proves to be an interesting character. I found both of them to be very likable and they were one of the best bits of the game for me.
As for the plot, it starts out with you being hired to retrieve a sword, then it descends into something slightly unclear to do with demons. The demons have a oisoned sister and an ancient brother, then as you get nearer the end of the game you’re told that there’s a family squabble, the end of the world is near and suddenly you get a quite sad ending. I think I’d have to play through it again to fully understand what was going on.
Combat was fast paced and often frustrating. You’d be charging around with your guns blowing enemy limbs off, lighting them on fire and using explosives when all of a sudden there was an unbelievable difficulty spike (chapter 8 most memorably). It was fun and there was a lot of variety to how you can fight the enemies, my favourite of which was near the end when you have a fully upgraded katana. The problem for me was the enemies themselves, teleporting speedy knife wielders, enemy reviving wizard demons who could go temporarily invincible and suicidal explosive ball things made the game challenging but they always showed up unexpectedly. There were five boss fights by my count, some more interesting than others but they generally followed the rule of hit the glowing weak spot and gave a nice break from the style of the other levels.
The game had eighteen levels split into seventeen chapters and a prologue, I don’t know if it was based on a book but that was the style that it tried to tell the story in. The maps were fairly linear but there was exploration to be done and secrets to find, I somehow managed to get lost a few times.
Actual problems that the game has are that the framerate sometimes dropped and that melee hits that were perfectly accurate didn’t always hit.
Overall I’d say I did enjoy the game. From it’s star ratings of combat to the fortune cookies there were lots of things to like about the game, I just don’t think there was enough to make it stand out against something like Doom which has incredibly intense combat. I think that if there was more focus on the melee combat and less focus on guns as well as more predictable difficulty changes with The Touch playing a few more times in the game it could be great. But I will go back to it at some point as it has an EX mode which is basically New Game + where you do the same missions but keep your weapons.
And a word to the wise: Don’t kill the rabbits.
The art that I’m using as the featured image was found on the achievements section of the Xbox website. Dark, shadowy some might say. A bald man in black combat armour holding a katana with the words Shadow Warrior looking like they’ve been chopped in half. This shows the main character and makes it clear that the katana is important to the game. I think it should have shown a demon somewhere but I think it’s enough of a draw to make me take a closer look at the game.