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Shadow Warrior 2 Review

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Gameplay:

This is where the real meat of the game is, figuratively and literally. Armed with many blades, guns, and other miscellaneous weapons, you get to save the world by slaughtering every enemy you encounter. My preference is to just use a sword or other bladed weapon, because I never need to reload it, aiming is as easy and pressing it against an enemy's face, and we have the combos from the previous game; a lunge attack, full circle spin attack, and a beam attack that comes off of the blade. All of these can be charged up for more damage.

Additionally you have some chi powers that can be used, but honestly I almost never touched them. I did use Healing Wave, but the push, cloak, and grab I more or less left alone. The push I never intentionally used while the cloak I engaged for the achievement that requires killing so many entities while Vanished. (Tip: the one-hit bunnies count for this, but be ready for when the Bunny Lord appears.) The grab actually sends up shadow spikes from the ground, impaling enemies and holding them in place. These spikes do not do damage on their own, though equipment can change that, but that does not minimize their value. I never really used this ability directly, but instead had a pair of gauntlets that had a chance to impale enemies when I hit them. I find this weapon to be particularly effective and ran around with them quite a bit.

 

There are a variety of weapons and some do hold advantages over others, but do not necessarily become unbalanced. For example, I have two short-blade weapons and while one has considerably higher DPS than the other, the lower damage one is that pair of gauntlets I just mentioned. Of course weapons can all be upgraded by slotting gems into three slots, but some do have limitations. For example, one sword can only use upgrades below a certain rarity and the gun that always reloads with free ammo can only use the lowest rarity. Other weapons come with an upgrade, typically elemental that only that weapon can use. Any weapon can be given an elemental upgrade (multiple actually, if they are of the same type) but these weapon-specific upgrades will, for example, convert all of the normal damage into fire damage.

There are four elements, in addition to the normal physical damage: fire, ice, electrical, and toxic. Enemies will sometimes be resistant to one type, but may then be vulnerable to its counterpart. For this reason it is a good idea to keep multiple elements in your different equipped weapons.

 

Speaking of your equipped weapons, this system is a little funky, but you get used to it. You may want to change one of the keybinds though. Okay, how the weapon swapping works, besides pulling up the wheel or hitting the right number key, is to select your last used melee or ranged weapon by hitting one of two buttons. The default for the melee weapon is G, so I changed it to the easier to reach F, which is not used for anything else. What makes this system a little funky, besides that default keybind, is that it gives you quick access to four weapons, not just two. It tracks your two most recently used melee and ranged weapons, so if you are already on the melee weapon and hit the button, it goes to the other melee weapon. Combined with the element system, this is actually a pretty good design for how it lets you quickly manage your favorite weapons in your arsenal.

This loot system, while I appreciate it being based on slotted upgrades as opposed to requiring one to hunt for the perfect weapon, is kind of annoying to work with. It is so easy to amass considerable numbers of these upgrades that you then need to mark for junk, one at a time, or craft into something hopefully better. The issue with crafting is that I have not observed any pattern between what you put in and what you get out, so sacrificing items with specific affixes does not mean you will get back an upgrade with those same affixes, only better. This makes it a tremendous sink for otherwise trash upgrades but also money, as the process costs money, leaving you only hoping for something good in the end. Actually there is one pattern you can rely on, and that is sacrificing three upgrades of the same element will return one of the same element. So, if you have three low-rarity fire upgrades, you can craft them together and will get a new fire upgrade out of it that will hopefully be better.

 

Something else annoying about this system is that when you select to replace an upgrade in a weapon, you cannot directly compare the item you are replacing with those in your inventory. You can see how the weapon's DPS and single-hit damage will change, along with some other stat changes, but other stats are hidden unless you back out and look again at what the slotted upgrade is. It just seems like an odd decision to not have the item you are replacing be shown.

That is a lot of writing about the weapon upgrade system, but really, most of the game is going to be about you running around killing things. The upgrades will make you more effective at this, but in the end, it is about the slaughter of enemies and it is fun. Mobility is key, so be constantly moving, trying to keep yourself in control of the situation. One annoyance here is that the different combos I mentioned earlier are selected by combining the RMB with a specific direction. Very often I ended up using the wrong combo because I was trying to move in one direction and while I thought I released that key in time to press another, at least the game thought I did not. Something else that is just a little annoying but not an issue by any stretch is that RMB does nothing else. If you just press it without a movement key, it will do nothing at all. Some kind of neutral attack would have been nice to have for quickly tapping it, or those times you are able to stand still.

The gameplay is as fun as cutting up enemies can be. It actually reminded me on several occasions of playing an ARPG with how many enemies would come at me, but by using my skills appropriately, I could easily manage the entire group. The ton of loot dropping was a reminder too. For me, it is a good feeling to have because I like playing games where I can have that kind of dominance in the world, so while the challenge remains, I am completely able to handle it.

 

It took me 12 hours and 27 minutes to complete one playthrough of the game, and it does allow you to replay it, carrying over your character. You can also free-roam some of the areas you completed side-missions in, but I tended to just keep moving forward. I have not touched the multiplayer or the highest difficulties, but those are there for adding even more playtime, which I have been doing.




  1. Shadow Warrior 2 Review - Introduction
  2. Shadow Warrior 2 Review - Graphics
  3. Shadow Warrior 2 Review - Story
  4. Shadow Warrior 2 Review - Gameplay
  5. Shadow Warrior 2 Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  6. Shadow Warrior 2 Review - Conclusion
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