It seems reboots are all the buzz these days. Duke Nukem, Duck Tales, Rise of the Triad had a go at it, promising you all those nostalgic memories, fulfilling none and most of them burning a hole in your pocket and leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Next in the line is Shadow Warrior, that 1997’s 3D Realms developed, ultra violent Duke Nukem 3D clone. Who’d have thought a Shadow Warrior reboot was in the making? Well the fine folks at Flying Wild Dog did and out came the reboot. These guys kinda knew what they were making, as evident from their previous title Hard Reset, another shoot-anything-that-moves FPS game.
To start with the new Shadow Warrior, it embellishes a new layer of HD visuals on top of the arcade gameplay. Thanks to the Road Hog Engine which I confused for Unreal Engine 3. It has the same prowess of the Unreal Engine and some of same the same issues the UE had such as texture loading and screen tearing. Nonetheless it does deliver some awe inspiring graphics. Shadow Warrior also has some nifty ideas in its pocket that makes the gameplay less jaded.
Shadow Warrior has loads of tongue in cheek humor, hell, even your protagonists name is Lo Wang. In fact everything is a joke in the game. Filled with cheesy one liners, Lo Wang shoots and slashes his way through levels. The levels, at least, initially felt very monotonous but as the game progressed you get huge arenas and often stuffed with loads of hidden areas and Easter eggs. There was a slight loading when you enter or exit an area but that forgivable. The plot is nothing much to brag about and its more of an excuse to cut things up but has some nice surprises and serves the purpose of ploughing you through till end. You also do get an occasional puzzle to solve and doors to open.
The best part of the game is Lo Wang’s sword, slicing and dicing your foes is immense fun. Gore is assured in barrels whether it be demons or human foes and YOU WILL have loads to kill. You do get guns and you can carry all of them around unlike the post-modern era’s carry-two-at-a-time formula. But believe me, even with all those guns in your possession you’ll still resort to the pleasure of the blade. You literally can slice your enemies in pieces and you get rewarded for it which you can spend on, yes, special powers and what not, which makes little difference for a fact. Shadow Warrior has also got a hybrid regeration system, you do get the old school health packs but whenever your health dips dangerously low, it regenerates/heals some of it.
Shadow Warrior, being a reboot, is undoubtedly monotonous. Tons of enemies spawn from god-knows-where and come at you in any given level and the fun of slicing and dicing kinda stops there. There are also certain events like picking up a trophy that’d trigger the same, a flood of enemies. Enemy varieties are less though you do get boss fights.
It’s been 16 years since the original and it aint easy rebooting an old classic especially when we are so used to modern game mechanics likes regenerating health and cover fire. Reboots often fail to amuse/entertain you but Shadow Warrior manages to retain some of the charm that the original had and it seems we needed it atleast as a break. For what’s worth it is faithful to its ancestor even though it adds among the romp of recently released juvenile games.