Review by horror_spooky
Stuck in the past
Shadow Warrior is a game that had been on my radar for the longest time. I am not opposed to retro throwbacks, and I consider myself a big FPS fan. I started seeing it on lists of underrated games, and then my interest in it grew. Unfortunately, Shadow Warrior is sometimes nostalgic, but it's also stuck too far in the past.
Shadow Warrior plays almost exactly like an FPS from the 90s, with the graphics of an FPS from the earliest years of last generation. Levels are often maze-like, with players killing groups of enemies and then walking around aimlessly until they find the next objective. Some may enjoy the open-ended level design, but when there's nothing interesting to see in the levels, it just starts to feel like a chore.
The combat itself feels off. Sometimes it is satisfying to combine typical shooting with some of the melee attacks available, but the game just doesn't feel like anything special. Like I said, it definitely plays like an old FPS.
Besides typical FPS shooting and walking around levels aimlessly, Shadow Warrior has an RPG-like skill tree tacked on for good measure. Buried in menus, Shadow Warrior's leveling system is not engaging and adds very little to the experience.
The graphics are lacking as well, looking like a game that's a decade old or better. It's unclear if these weak visuals are due to the game's retro style or because of a low budget, but sometimes Shadow Warrior looks so cheap that it's distracting. There's a lot of repeating textures and areas that look very similar to each other, which makes navigating its more maze-like levels that much more annoying. Aesthetically, Shadow Warrior is bland, but some of its visual design choices actually make it a worse game from a gameplay perspective as well.
Shadow Warrior's audio fares a bit better. The main character is a wise-cracking jerk named Lo Wang, who has one-liners aplenty. The comedy in the game is well-done, and is one of the few nostalgic points that I feel the developers nailed.
Shadow Warrior is of average length for an FPS, though I question if most of the time in the game is wasted by people walking around the maze-like levels aimlessly and bored as opposed to having fun with the combat or other aspects of the gameplay.
Many people claim Shadow Warrior is an underrated game, but I left it feeling confused that it's getting the praise it's received at all. It is a throwback FPS that is stuck in the past, failing to make the changes here and there to be nostalgic as well as serve as an improvement over the 90s FPS formula.
Product Release: Shadow Warrior (US, 10/21/14)
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