PS4, XBONE – Out October 26th
‘The Touch’ by Stan Bush is without a doubt one of the greatest examples of stereotypical 80s arena-rock, and if you’ve never heard of it, you’ve clearly never watched the original Transformers Movie. It’s a song which within it’s first 8 words fills you with excitement and adrenaline, and sets the tone of what to expect from the remaining 3 and a half minutes. You can guess I was a little startled to find myself grinning uncontrollably to find amidst the dark Chinese Mythology, Dragon rituals and unnerving narration, that our hero’s first word’s are “You’ve got the touch! … You’ve got the power!!” … this is gonna be fun!
Shadow Warrior is a real 80’s throwback kinda game, from the off it’s got everything you could expect from a B-grade action ninja flick, dodgy English, over the top stereotypes and even the choice of leading man, where instead of A-lister Jackie Chan like you’d get in Hollywood, we get Lo Wang… yeah it’s that kinda game! The premise of the game follows Mr Wang, an assassin who works for a powerful Japanese industrial giant, as he attempts to purchase a sacred Katana from a collector. The price tag is rejected and following orders, Wang attempts to take the sword by force, thus begins the first taste of brutality pie that everyone will want a slice of. The gameplay is entirely in first person, and you begin by wielding a sword, a very sharp sword as you’ll soon find out once henchman after henchman throw they’re dismembered limbs at your face in all it’s bloody beauty …yeah it’s that kinda game! Using the right trigger you hack away with your katana to your heart’s content, choosing to strike vertically or horizontally, whilst also having the option to supress fire with some nifty shurikens. After 10 minutes I’m presented by a barrage of blood thirsty demons, who unbeknownst to me have invaded the resort, and a particular masked demon named Hoji has butchered Miyazaki The Collector. Wang joins forces with Hoji and is told that the fabled Katana he was sent to buy is called the Nobitsura Kage and it comes in 3 separate forms which Wang must locate. Throughout Wang’s adventure you’ll be rewarded with numerous firearms to sink your enemies with, as well as many unlockable secondary-fire options to bring along to the party. You’re first choice of weaponry will naturally be Lo’s Katana and this will become increasingly more powerful as you progress, unlocking an arrange of sweet special moves and ancient abilities that follow a similar button input to the Street Fighter games; knowing when to use them is half the battle.
Visually the game is gorgeous and the bright coloured environments compliment the tone of the game perfectly, it’s not trying to be a serious FPS but more like a vulgar comic book. The voice acting too is very good, from what I heard of the script during the demo, it’s daft but surprisingly laugh out loud funny. There is a lot to laugh at whilst playing Shadow Warrior, it’s cleverly placed gags and innuendos means it doesn’t feel quite like overkill, as can be the case with games that don’t take themselves seriously, with ‘Deadpool’ being a prime example. The most surprising factor of Shadow Warrior is how clean and smooth the sword gameplay is, as not every developer can get it right. For fans of ‘Red Steel’ for the Wii, you’ll fit in without any difficulty, newcomers to a more sword led first person shooter won’t find any problems picking this up for the first time, as the controls are simple and attacks are easy to execute; PS4 players will have an easier ride as the touchscreen replaces some actions required for special abilities and combos. The gunplay too is surprisingly very accurate, so much so that it could give Call of Duty a run for it’s money. As sadistic as this sounds, it was very satisfying to chop up the never ending supply of goons and demons into bloody carcasses, the mechanics behind the swordplay was a concern of mine after playing the PC version, sword play is easy from a mouse and keyboard, however it does accommodate a console controller rather well. That being said, the controller did feel a little too cramped in the commands department, with some essential commands such as zooming, was demoted to an awkwardly placed analogue button. It’s a tad disappointing to see the absence of any co-op option for the campaign, though admittingly the levels are a little narrow and a second player could feel squashed on the screen; it’s by no means an essential requirement but it is worth pointing out.
The original remake was released on PC last year and it was reviewed very well, notably for its amount of content, which surpasses the length of most FPS campaigns. Within it’s campaign you’ll also find yourself stumbling upon secret passages and hidden collectables, along with a fair share of bizarre Easter eggs and softcore pornography, (I found a scantily clad anime school girl bathing behind a waterfall … yeah it’s that kinda game). With its crude humour, lengthy & decent story mode and a ton of collectables to search for, there is an awful lot to enjoy here and you’ll no doubt return to it again and again. Fans of 2013’s PC release won’t find anything new here, but anyone who shows even the tiniest amount of interest in it should check it out post haste as it’s shaping up to be a bloody good game!