Reviewed on an Xbox Series X
The latest in the rebooted series from developer Flying Wild Hog, Shadow Warrior 3 is here. They kindly provided us a code for this review, though it was on the day of release. That had me worried that things were coming in red hot, alas the game feels sound technically. Where I do take issue is in the humor department. It comes non-stop and while toned back can still feel racially insensitive at times. What you’re here for though is the bombastic action and sad realization that this is not a sequel to the last game, it’s much more a sequel to the first. Gone is the loot and cooperative systems, replaced with a full embrace of the DOOM Eternal systems. How does it all work out both graphically and gameplay wise? Let’s find out.
A Wang for Every Season
While this may not be a direct sequel in spirit to Shadow Warrior 2 it does carry on the main story. Things have gone to hell, friends are dead, and a massive dragon is here to swallow all of your souls. You once again take on the roll of Lo Wang who is finally voiced by someone not white, which is the bare minimum at this point. Taking over the acting roll is Mike Moh and he does the best he can with a terrible script. Story wise things are predictable, cringetastic, and occasionally almost worthy of a light chuckle. A few of the voice actors are ok and one in particular who I won’t name as it is a spoiler is truly terrible and made me turn off voices for a while. It’s not a great package overall, and it is one that is quite different from the last title.
As stated previously gone is the loot system which was such a major part of 2. This is a fully solo DOOM Eternal style game. You have upgrades for Mr. Wang and each of his weapons which are tied to an upgrade currency you either find in-game or earn through challenges. Those challenges are mostly tied to the basic actions of a FPS title though some are a bit tricky with what they require of you. The system felt fine overall and added a sense of progression that worked well enough. The gun variety falls in the decent category as well. There is a surprisingly small number of them for a game like this, when I had the weapon wheel (LB by default) up and saw how many I would eventually get I was a bit surprise.
Each gun has various strengths and weaknesses against the also surprisingly low number of enemy variants. You are best suited changing things up often as having a favorite gun won’t be a thing here, not only for its weaknesses vs. certain types but also a massive lack of ammunition. Right bumper is your trusty katana and you’ll be using this one a lot. It is the main way to replenish ammo and slicing weaker enemies into ribbons of flesh is as satisfying as ever. The gunplay itself is stiff by default and I had to up the sensitive greatly on the vertical and slightly on the horizontal axis. They also have their own take on the glory kill system of doom here. Instead of a buff you potentially gain a unique “gore weapon” depending on which mob you use it on. Animations can be a tad long but you have to build up a meter to use it so it’s ok in the end.
Two of the biggest additions are tied to the movement. Early on you’ll find a grappling hook and with the press of the Y button you can either attach to objects and swing/pull yourself forward or hook on to lower level enemies to pull yourself towards them. The other feature is wall running/climbing which is allowed in areas covered in a thick green grass. Teamed with a double jump and air dash there is a lot of platforming in this game, and it works for the most part. Occasionally I would get stuck on the environment in some way and fall to my death. Incredibly short load times of a second or two though made it less frustrating than it would be otherwise. I feel for those on the xbox one or ps4 generation of consoles if load times there aren’t as snappy.
I played the game on a Series X and the first thing I noticed were the insanely fast load times. When choosing continue from the main level and going back into a boss fight it took just under 1 second before “press start to continue” popped up. With how the game looks, and its small size of 17gb I should have been prepared, but it was still impressive. Graphically it’s all about scope here as many of the game’s textures in the environment can look dated, but things are so gigantic that it’s still impressive. Lighting is great during the golden hour, and the size of certain encounters had my jaw dropping.
There is no native version for Series consoles, it is using the Gen9aware status which older games like The Division 2 or Call of Duty Warzone employ. It’s odd to see in a title releasing 17 months after new consoles came out but… it’s better than nothing? The main area where this becomes obvious is the level of detail. Higher quality assets pop into existence not too far from your character and seeing items in the distance appear out of thin air is a common occurrence. When I changed from 4k/60hz to 1440p/120hz after capturing footage things felt a lot smoother too. Unless my eyes deceived me it felt like it was running at/up to 120fps but I have no real way of telling for sure.
Late Codes, Hot Mess?
We didn’t get this review code until the day of release, which normally means things are in rough shape. This time though I played through the staggeringly short campaign in 5 hours without hitting any major bugs. At $50 US it’s a tough sell for such a short experience and when choosing continue at the main menu after completing it simply brought me back to the end boss. I only had a few instances of audio glitching out and after a few seconds it went back to normal.
I saw no new game + type mechanic to add to the longevity of anything, so unless the thought of constantly replaying the same sections time and time again while having to also level over and over again sounds like a proposition worthy of $50 to you it may be best to wait on a sale for this one. While the voice acting is mostly bad, either due to the dialogue or the actor’s choice of voice, the music is excellent. Again with this being a Polish dev it can sound a bit ‘70’s Hong Kong martial arts movie dub, but its well made and appropriate for the moment to moment action.
Shadow Warrior 3 is an ok time. I don’t personally think it is worth its launch price as there is little to no replayability and the story only took me 5 hours to get through, but if what your mileage may vary. I’m sad to see co-op gone, and the lack of a loot system and randomized levels does hurt the overall value even more. That isn’t to say there is no fun to be had here though. The gunplay is solid, weapon and enemy varieties while not numerous are well balanced, and the scope can be breathtaking. It may not be the most sensitive game ever made, but it’s certainly not a bad way to spend your time.
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X|
|Available on||Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC|
|Release Date||March 1st, 2022|
|Developer||Flying Wild Hog|
|Rated||M for Mature|