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In Case You Missed It – Shadow Warrior

Sometimes a game just slips under the radar. Whatever the reason for this occurring, be it bad marketing, classification problems or a strange concept, some games just fail to find their audience. Here at Player2.net.au we want to highlight these rough gems and that is where “In Case You Missed It” comes in. Some games just deserve a second chance.

In Case You Missed It – Shadow Warrior

With the recent announcement of Shadow Warrior 2 I thought it was the perfect time to have a look back at the game that brought Lo Wang back from obscurity. For those that are on the underside of 25 you may have trouble recognising the name “Shadow Warrior”. The original game to bear this title was a first person shooter by 3d Realms using the same engine that they used to make Duke Nukem 3d. It featured some horribly racist Asian stereotypes yet somehow despite that it was quite a bit of fun. Well the title character, Lo Wang, is back in a series reboot thanks to developer Flying Wild Hog studio and they had a big task bringing this archaic character and gameplay into the modern era. I had my doubts about this one, especially after Duke’s failed return, but it turned out to be a smashing ride.

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Flying Wild Hog managed to make changes in the right places. the gameplay its self is very reminiscent of the original game. This is a twitch shooter along the lines of Serious Sam and I found the old fall back of a good circle strafe essential to my survival. What the developers have done though is added quite a few modern conventions to this old formula making my time with the game much more enjoyable as a result. There are now some lite RPG trappings in the game where I could upgrade both my skills and my chi powers. These powers add a lot to the combat allowing me to heal, create a shield and slam monsters into the air. Skills are passive traits that improved my combat, exploration and movement.

The single best thing in this game is without a doubt the Katana. This was my first weapon and also my most used. With special moves and abilities the Katana is one of the best implementations of a melee weapon I have ever seen in a first person shooter. In fact not since the Dark Forces games have I had this much of a blast hacking through baddies with a sword while looking through the eyes of the protagonist. Special attacks are activated with double direction taps and add a lot of strategy to the sword combat. In fact for the first third of the game I almost exclusively relied on this blade of death, only switching to guns for some impressive boss battles.

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In the end Shadow Warrior is a great example of “nostalgia shooter” done right. The gameplay is tight and entertaining and the developers have added plenty of modern touches so it didn’t feel like a relic from a bygone era. With a wide variety of enemies, some stunning locals and spectacularly satisfying swordplay I couldn’t help but have an absolute blast in Shadow Warrior. While the lack of coop keeps it from knocking Serious Sam of the top of the twitch shooter pile, there is more than enough here to justify its relatively cheap price.  Those that are too young to remember the days when Doom and Duke ruled the roost might not find much to like about Lo Wang’s return but for the older crowd like me you couldn’t ask for a better blast from the past.

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Matt Hewson

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