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Shadow Warrior (2013)

By Mokman09-10-2013
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
Shadow Warrior (2013)

The Defence

Flying Wild Hog
Developer Digital
Action, Shooter
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Quad 8200
AMD Phenom X4 9950
Nvidia GeForce GTX 460
AMD Radeon HD 4890
4 GB
8 GB

The Case

The original Shadow Warriors was released in 1997, based on an improved Duke Nukem 3D engine with the much-vaunted addition of ninjas and tongue-in-cheek racism. I remember sitting in front of my computer screen and snorting out loud: "Lo Wang? What an absolutely ridiculous-sounding name"...said the kid called Mok Xiang. However, almost unsurprisingly, I found the game to be one of the most viscerally exciting and downright fun games that has ever graced my hands, giving me what you would get if you combined Quake with katanas. Now, the recent remakes of classics within the gaming industry has produced a mixed bag of results, ranging from the genuinely good, such as XCOM: Enemy Unknown, to the atrocious - Duke Nukem: Forever. Where does Shadow Warrior fall? Read on to find out.

The Trial

It seems that this iteration of Shadow Warrior goes back to the good old-fashioned practice of having absolutely insane stories, filled to the brim with horrible decisions and laughably-crafted characters. All of this then combines together to create something both incredibly bad and, at the same time, really good. You take control of the famously-named modern ninja mercenary - Lo Wang, who proceeds to chop up hordes of men followed by hordes of demons and sometimes both at the same time. The game doesn't shy away from the action, instead dropping you into its fast-paced, frenetic combat mere minutes after throwing you into a loose story regarding the retrieval of a sword for your boss. As expected, negotiations sour and soon you have to fight off waves of Japanese bodyguards, all of whom comically carry katanas. A state of affairs that I can categorically tell you does not exist in reality.

It won’t stay quiet for long.

It won’t stay quiet for long.

Still, the story does turn out to be a fun romp, with most of the jokes managing to hit the funny bone, either through tongue-in-cheek wit or brazen audacity. The characters you get involved with are certainly memorable, though none more so than Wang himself. The banished trickster spirit who fights by your side and grants you special powers, Hoji, does take a solid second place though. I have since heard it compared to a grindhouse film and I cannot say that I do not agree, though I have to state it is at the forefront of its craft. Most importantly, I did not get any of the desperation that Duke Nukem Forever reeked of. Instead it is an extremely interesting premise and it has a story that stands on its own.

However, nobody plays Shadow Warrior merely for its story; here's the part that will blow your mind, or at least chop your head clean off - the gameplay. A blast from the past would be a simple way to describe it, although that wouldn’t be doing it justice. Fun, frenetic, inspiring, seat-of-the-pants and adrenaline-drenched would perhaps be a better string of descriptors, though even then it misses some of the magic that makes it work. Sprinting about the map, running circles around enemies as you slice and dice your way to victory is an indescribable, unmatchable experience that will have your blood pumping.

A whole slew of different powers are available and you can upgrade these as you find hidden secrets which grant you more upgrade points throughout the game, powering you up even more. These magical spells or sword-talents are in themselves pretty amazing but combined with your normal swordplay, it turns into something even better. You’ll be trying to swing your blade at just the right angle in order to stagger your opponent, before blasting him away with a fiery shockwave. Boss fights are much harder than before, requiring key points to be hit in a certain manner, or with a certain timing - definitely a challenge to be contended with.

You don’t say.

You don’t say.

The different enemies are also varied though some are more interesting than others, such as the demons which are a furious cloud of angry berserker rage charging straight at you. The only downside to the combat that I really do feel like I wish to point out is the fact that swordplay is so damn fun that gunplay is pretty much left in the dust, both in the minds of the players and in the mechanics of the game itself. Aiming is a chore and really not well-suited to the fast-paced gameplay that erupts all about you.

The graphics are the most surprising aspect of this package though and they are quite amazing. While the engine is by no means cutting edge, Flying Wild Hog not being a common triple-A game developer, the gorgeous design of the levels hide this fact incredibly well, sculpting the levels with the care and attention that led me to suspect they hired actual Asian architects rather than just stealing a bunch of photos off Google. The slightly cel-shaded visuals work well against this backdrop, lending the entire experience just the right amount of grittiness and of the fantastical. Animations are also jaw-dropping, with models twirling about the levels in a dance of death, limbs flying everywhere as your eyes are barely able to keep up with the feast of input offered to them.

The audio is similarly awesome, albeit slightly less so. The music certainly provides good backing tracks to fight to and the special effects gives each of your actions a certain amount of oomph. I found that it was the sounds gargling from the throats of the demons that captivated me the most, with the spine-chilling growls of the demons instantly alerting you to their presence and triggering yet another stream of adrenaline into the bloodstream.

This looks pretty...but doesn’t look good.

This looks pretty...but doesn’t look good.

The Verdict

Is this Shadow Warrior? No. It's something somewhat fresher, a bit more mature and a bit less kooky. It feels more legit and it doesn't use the same cheap tricks that its predecessor did as it attempted to ape Duke Nukem. The story is genuinely good this time around, with memorable characters and a slightly more believable protagonist, while the gameplay has truly found a niche of its own with its frantic melee combat. It has taken everything that made Shadow Warrior good and then refined it, making a great game simply amazing. As remakes go, I call that a success.

Case Review

  • Fast-paced Gameplay: Very few enemies with insane pools of health here, let the limbs fly.
  • RPG Elements: They know what exactly makes us tick - upgradeable powers.
  • Surprisingly Good Graphics and Audio: It is so common to see a great game like this brought down by poor design and middling audio. That it is not the case here.
  • Difficult: A huge plus here considering the veteran crowd it caters to.
  • Doesn't Focus on the Guns: Why did they even put them in?
Score: 5/5
Shadow Warrior is a hell of a fun ride, guaranteed to make your blood flow and bring a mad grin to your face.


Oh old-school shooters, how I have missed you! Just recently I rediscovered how much fun the original Shadow Warrior (Redux) still is and I went into the remake/reboot with a wide grin. What I discovered wasn’t as true to the original as I wanted, but that’s not a bad thing per se. The 2013 version has its own spin on the story and keeps some names, items and weapons (swords and cookies in particular) as well as keeping the wangtastic attitude and humour from the original.

The game stands tall on all fronts. It looks nice with an amazing art style and level design with only a slight oversaturation of bloom. It has quite witty, entertaining dialog with a story that has some twists and an unexpected outcome. And the whole ride is long enough to justify what seems quite a high price for the tile, lasting about 12-15 hours.

In the end, all you really need to know is that the game is a lot of fun. The swordplay, even though slightly lacking, is still very satisfying. In fact, so satisfying that you’ll have to make a conscious effort to even think about using the other weapons. The upgrades are varied and much more useful than they seem at the beginning. And as the cherry on a great cake, the story doesn’t end with a cliché even though this is the kind of game that would not get marked down if it did. Go get your Wang now!

Score: 4.5/5


Shadow Warrior is a very intriguing title, not only because it’s a reboot/sequel of the 1997 original by 3D Realms, but because of its focus on melee combat with your faithful samurai sword. It has been modernised to fit today’s standards, but it still holds faithful to the original setting and locations of the classic adventure. You again play as Lo Wang, a badass samurai warrior that has one objective - to retrieve a sword for his boss. Although things don’t go according to plan starting off a crazy bloodbath. You have access to a sword at the start which is one of the most useful weapons in your inventory. You will unlock more upgrades later that will be beneficial for certain situations and for scoring more karma, but you’ll need to make progress to unlock them.

The gameplay itself is fun. It feels fluid and responsive, when fighting a large numbers of enemies in an area. Chaining up different kill combos with the sword and using things like the crossbow, shotgun and SMGs, to rack up enough kills quickly. Those kills will earn you a large number of karma points that you can then use to buy upgrades for new moves, along with money for weapons, and crystals for personal skills. It all falls together nicely, with the icing on the cake being the graphics and dialogue. The graphics are absolutely stunning and your new demon friend, with his rather sadistic humour, adds another nice touch alongside Wang’s quips.

You can also find some other amusing little tricks in the game, like Easter eggs and secrets hidden throughout each chapter. These can include hidden rooms that resemble certain scenes from the 1997 classic (with the old graphic style too) to random, weird enemies that attack you and award you with a demon heart (which is an instant kill weapon). With little touches of humour, funny, dark and adult dialogue from Lo Wang and random fortune cookies bundled with the fantastic slick gameplay and amazing visuals, this is certainly a worthwhile package. It contains a lot of content that is absolutely worth your time. The only noticeable things that hold it back are the optimization issues which include lengthy loading screens and some frame drop issues. But other than that Flying Wild Dog deserve a big pat on the back for delivering this classic homage into our gaming lives.

Score: 4.5/5
Comments (5)
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Posts: 351

So I have been playing this game and I have to say HOLY FUCKING SHIT! I absolutely love it, way better than I thought even after reading reviews. Worth the money for sure.

Posts: 351

I may have to buy this now!

Posts: 1317

Needs Co-Op to get me interested.

Posts: 3290

Of course. All men love to play with their Wang

Posts: 1548

Nice to see that everyone agrees that its a darn good game!