Shadow Warrior 3 Review(PS4)
''In the shadows. We hide''
Developed: Flying Wild Hog
Published: Devolver Digital
Genre: First Persona Arena Shooter
Release Date: March 1st, 2022
Platforms: PS4/Xbox family/PC
*Review copy provided to me by Devolver Digital*
Shadow Warrior 3 is a first person arena shooter that is developed by Flying Wild Hog and published by Devolver Digital. Being a sequel to Shadow Warrior 2, the developers at Flying Wild Hog had to up the ante and make a make a game that's even more over the top than the previous entries, but was it the right move? or is this one sequel that falls short of its intended greatness?. Only one way to find out, so lets go! Story:
Fallen corporate shogun Lo Wang and his former employer turned nemesis turned sidekick Orochi Zilla embark on an improbable mission to recapture an ancient dragon they unwillingly unleashed from its eternal prison. Armed with a punishing mix of blades and bullets, Lo Wang must traverse uncharted parts of the world to track down the dark beast and push the apocalypse back yet again. All it will take is the mask of a dead god, a dragon's egg, a touch of magic, and enough firepower to hold off the impending cataclysm. Pretty simple right? yeah, how about no.
Shadow Warrior 3 as stated before is a first person arena shooter in the vein of well known titles like DOOM, Serious Sam and even the lesser talked about Painkiller, which is awesome series. Seriously guys, what the heck, talk about it more. Anyways. Even though Shadow Warrior 3 does share some of the same characteristics as a title like DOOM with its arena style fast paced shooting that has you going from level to level fighting off hordes of enemies, or even Serious Sam's ''Ahh!'' screaming enemies that bum rush you and explode to kill you, it still does enough to set itself apart from those games in order to not come off as a complete knock off. How? you ask. Simple. Dead raccoons, ninja's in underwear, poop jokes. Wait what?. Yeah I know that doesn't seem to make any sense does it? . Well out of context, of course not, but I assure you, they're keys to the overall theme of this title in relation to its story beats, narrative and overall tone and humor. This is not a serious title and its meant to be mostly immature and tongue in cheek. Do not go into this expecting to be enlightened or the next ground breaking story mode. Trust me.
As you start your game, you're greeted to main the character, Lo Wang, who is seemingly is blabbering to himself about how this dragon ruined everything, how he failed and how he was THIS close to being able to save the world, but every time he attempts to do so, he always fails and ends up beat up somehow. Dude has straight up had enough of this point. Throughout his ramblings, we will get flash backs and playthrough just what exactly he went through that not only traumatized him, but ticked him off. This is where you will learn all the basics of the game that will either carry on to the rest of the game or progress further with new upgrades as you trek through the main campaign. In the opening flashback that acts as your tutorial you will learn about using L2 to dash left or right to dodge enemy projectiles or use it to dash over large gaps, learn about double jumping to make it further distances or high to reach areas, sliding, gun play by using shot guns, pistols and other varieties of weapons, which ill get to very shortly, as well as utilize your special instant kill attack that harkens back to the fatality kills of the DOOM reboot and Doom Eternal. Very basic stuff, sure, but the further you actually make it through the story, the more upgrades to each weapon and skill that you will unlock, which bolsters your arsenal way up.. and let me tell you, you're going to need it.
Once you awaken from your flash back, you notice that Lo Wang is talking to...a mask, yup a mask, and he's in his dirty stained underwear. As he continues his ramble, he's startled by his arch nemesis, Zilla, who asks him, just what in the heck is he doing?. Why are you in your whitey tighties and why aren't you fighting the Dragon. Lo Wang's reason for talking to the mask is because it's the mask of his best friend, Hoji, who has previously died and it helps calm him. He feels he cannot beat the dragon because he lost his Mojo, pretty much like Austin Powers, and asks just what the heck is the point anyways in trying to save the world when everyone in it is already dead? who cares?. I mean logically you can't blame him, I kind of agree, however Zilla says there may be a way to not only defeat the dragon, but also get your Mojo back. We must take Hoji's mask to a witch named Motoko and it is she who will infuse it with magic that is strong enough to destroy the dragon once and for all. Hell yeah, let's do it, Wang says and the journey begins. Once the journey officially begins, you'll travel all across the land, searching far and wide, to take Hoji's mask and understand, the power that's inside, Hoji's mask, is what Zilla said true? can Wang's courage get him through? Motoko will teach me and I'll teach raccoons, Hoji's mask, gotta kill dragons, gotta kill dragons, Hoji's mask. Umm. Well before I get sued for copyright there, I better continue on with what I'm talking about, even though.. I kind of already did? sorta..
As stated in my Shadow Warrior 3 themed Pokemon rendition, yes, your next journey takes you to a witch named Motoko who wants to take the mask and infuse it with enough magic to kill the dragon, but if she does it, your friend Hoji will be dead for good. Wang can't let that happen. As Motoko is casting the magic spell on the mask, he grabs the mask and makes off with it as Zilla, a raccoon friend and Motoko give chase. Upon venturing off and fighting hordes of enemies, the mask begins to talk, its Hoji, his essence and spirit are still alive. Honestly when I first heard this dude start talking, the first thing I thought of was TMNT from the 1980s. The voice sounds like a mixture of both Krang and Baxter Stockman. Definitely very weird and his personality is even more strange. From here, Hoji tells Wang of his plan to get himself to a a magical egg and with that egg he will be able to take on a form of a new body and with this new body, he will be able to help beat the dragon, using his once great god like powers. Um alright, sounds perfectly reasonable, I guess. Agreeing to the plan, you and Hoji in mask form roam through dark forests, mountain sides, roll down rivers on a raft after Wang, like an idiot, loses the egg and drops it, get Hoji a true physical body, traverse ancient temples, journey along frostbitten cliffs, get Hoji to his destination only to find out he wants the power all to himself to become the one and only god to rule the world, have your plan fail to stop the dragon, learn that Hoji isn't used to having a human body so he think's that a piece of poop that he made, literally, was a real baby that he made. Which was a very ''wtf'' worthy moment, befriend a raccoon who suicide bombs himself after failing to detonate a bomb inside the dragons mouth and only ends up killing himself and then becoming a force ghost, before finally Wang entering the inner belly of the giant dragon to destroy its heart and FINALLY kill it once and for all. Pretty nuts right? It sure is. But... hang on. That tells us what you'll be doing for the STORY, but what about the game play in between? I know I know, calm down, we'll get to it.
Like mentioned before, Shadow Warrior 3 leans very heavily in the game play department with your typical run of the mill arena shooters like DOOM. When walking through each area to complete your objective, you will be stopped in medium sized linear sections of the map that are either on cliffs, small railing, large pits, inside belly's of a dragon, deep temples, dark forests, etc, you get the point. Each of the areas all end up the same when broken down, walk into it, enemies spawn and then all hell breaks loose. This is when you have to put together everything you've learned through the story, up till now, in order to survive. Utilizing skills like the grapple hook that allows you to grab green rings and swing to one side of the arena or to pull yourself towards an enemy as you combo in a melee R1 samurai sword attack or a Chi blast that knocks your opponent back a few feet to give yourself an opening, or taking advantage of wall running across green grass along the walls by jumping to it and hanging on and following its path. These will be key to survival as you tend to get in trouble with large quantities of monsters and sometimes its better to run, find health and ammo and recollect yourself before going all Master Chief and finishing the fight. But playing defensive won't always be the winning option, don't be silly. Why make an arena shooter if you don't have crazy over the top monster exploding goodness, am I right?. Well if you wanted crazy, weird, hectic and overtop action, then Shadow Warrior 3 will not disappoint you in the slightest. Taking advantage of your arsenal that you acquire over the course of the campaign that ranges from Pistols, Machine Guns, Shot guns, grenade launcher, laser gun, shuriken blade thrower, you'll be able to strategize and pick which weapon is effective versus which enemy here or there. For example, enemies that open their mouth with razor fans inside can only be damaged by explosives while open and when closed they'll take no damage. Vice versa for other guns not having any affect or a small effect depending on the monsters size or ability.
Pulling together combinations of attacks using this weapons is an absolute blast as well. When running along the wall, double jump off the wall, press triangle to grapple a ring hook, swing off that and then pull out your grenade launcher and blow off someone's head, man it feels awesome to do. Because of this fast pace action, the action keeps you amped up and leaves little time to idle about waiting, you're constantly on the move. Running from twenty literal screaming explosive enemies that yell ''AHHH'' at you like the baddies from Serious Sam as you frantically search around for a health upgrade when you're down to 10% health is SUPER nerve racking. Should you find the bouts with enemies getting too hard however, it is then you will have to make use of the games weapon and skill based upgrade system to give you a proper advantage in combat. Upgrades for weapons such as adding elemental attacks your melee sword for fire attacking, increased exploding radius for grenade launcher, stronger piercing effect for your charged laser, ammo upgrades, etc. While on the character side of things, you'll be able to make your Chi blasts make health and ammo respawn and drop quicker, increase overall health, have more resources or health, ammo and special meter, which is used for one strong melee attack that's instant kill like Doom, and so forth. Make sure you grab purple orbs hidden on the battlefield in order to rack up skill points from them so you can upgrade to the strongest ninja you can be. Trust me. Fully upgraded, you'll be jumping, swinging and singing GO NINJA, GO NINJA,GO, in no time.
So you got a whacky story, characters that are overtop, silly and vulgar humor that can sometimes range from hilarious to absolute cringe, great platforming mechanics with wall running and climbing alongside swinging with grapple hooks, fast and frantic arena shooting action with a neat selection of monsters to kill, mainly the boss fights, as they can range from a giant tentacle heart, all the way down to a literal giant chicken that even when killed and cut in half will come back to life to kill you.. which is absolutely both funny and terrifying. All of this sounds great on paper and to be honest, it is. Sure the game might be only 6-8 hours long but it can be a fun time... to an extent. Uh oh. You know what that means don't you, its time to bust out my negative nancy mode because this game, while enjoyable for the most part, does fall quite a bit short in the long run. I'll explain. The first half of the game flows at an absolutely perfect pace with each arena fight lasting maybe ten minutes at time before letting you move onto the next area to get your platforming game on or get transitioned back into main game foray. However, just past the halfway point, the game starts to lose its luster and the fast paced action you grew to love early on, starts to outstay its welcome and become quite mundane. Not because it stops being fun in itself, nope, but because, lordy, the fights start going on forever. Once only battling for ten minutes and moving on, now each area you are in can take anywhere from thirty to forty minutes to get past as waves of enemies constantly respawn for multiple waves. For example during the latter part of the game, you're tasked with hitting three buttons to power a weapon, for each button you press, 3 waves of monsters spawn that take five to ten minutes each to beat. Now imagine that for all three buttons, that's 9 waves of enemies, each wave with like 15 enemies each. No joke this goes on and on for the last four levels of the game. I just wanted it to end. It also doesn't help that there were game breaking glitches that stopped your progress by not spawning enemies needed to advance or not counting them towards your kill meter, either making you run around for 20 minutes figuring out what to do, or fighting the same group of baddies for 30 minutes before realizing to fix the issue, you have to re-load your last check point. Yikes.
At the end of the day, Shadow Warrior 3 actually has a lot of solid things going for it, funny characters like your raccoon friend, Wang having a sarcastic, arrogant and overall goofy attitude that keeps the humor up, fast paced action with creative looking bosses and intense up close and personal combat, entertaining platforming that makes you multitask from jumping to wall run to grapple hooking in one smooth motion, It's all really dang fun. But sadly that's only the first half of the game. Where it falls short is with its pacing running out of steam, copy and pasted enemy waves of the same baddies for thirty minutes at a time, game having the fake ending tropes where right when you get to the objective, a platform breaks and you fall back to the beginning of the level and have to do another two to three sections of a level to catch up to where you were previously, game breaking glitches here and there that stops you from progressing in the story. All of those really really hurt this game.. and with it being 6 to 8 hours long total, that makes up more than half the games length where you will get lost in its mundane style of combat that outstays its welcome due to lack of pacing structure that it did beautiful in the early chapters. If the game had stayed the way it was for the first half, this would be a no brainer to purchase, no question, but with all I named, along with it being a short game, for me personally, I cannot justify someone paying $50 for this title. It's not a bad game, don't get me wrong, but it's more so suited for a purchase at a $30 price tag over $50. So with all this having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says WAIT.