“Who wants a little Wang?”
This is a typical line taken from the amusingly named Lo Wang, star of Shadow Warrior 2.
It’s hard to believe that it has been five years since this game was unleashed on an unsuspecting public (unsuspecting, that is, unless they played the first game in the series). Of course, the third title in the series, the surprisingly named Shadow Warrior 3 has launched recently and continued to expand the madness, so this seems like as good a time as any to gaze back to 2017 when Shadow Warrior 2 exploded onto the scene. So come with me to the launch of a chaotic shooter/slasher…
Starting with the story, Lo Wang, our protagonist, is a somewhat disrespectful warrior, prone to speaking first and thinking, well, never! He is something of a hired gun for the Yakuza, and as such is given missions to go on and objectives to achieve; these usually lead him into a lot more trouble than he may have expected.
At the start of the game, the story is that we have to rescue the daughter of the Yakuza boss, but due to various reasons that are too long winded to go into but make perfect sense when you are playing through it, Lo Wang ends up with the soul of the daughter – Kamiko – inhabiting his body, while her body, which has been mutated by the people in the Zilla labs, goes on the rampage. And yes, it does get stranger from there on out, don’t you worry.
Now, the main draw of the Shadow Warrior games has always been the absolutely over the top action, and SW2 certainly didn’t disappoint in this respect. I believe that there were around seventy different weapons to be found, bought and utilised, and in a nice kind of an RPG style effect, using a weapon could level it up, making it more effective. So the question is always, do you stick with the weapons that you know and like, or should you branch out and level up a wide range of weapons, just so that you always have an option? Well, given that some of the arsenal were guns, and some of them blades, it made sense to me to have a few options, as I always found it tricky to find enough ammo for the vast numbers of bad guys that needed perforating. Jabbing them with a sharp stick is always a nice backup.
The whole game was a bit of a departure from the template that the first game had set, and it moved into a more open world kind of direction. With a hub area to explore, where you could level up your weapons, buy new ones and also pick up side missions, as well as the ability to replay earlier missions in order to grind for levels, Shadow Warrior 2 was a much less linear affair than the first one. New traversal mechanics were included this time around as well, with Lo Wang having acquired not only a very useful double jump ability (although jumping in first person shooters is always a bit tricky, with the exception of the Destiny games), but also the ability to target individual body parts of his enemies. Obviously, it’s going to be hard for an enemy to shoot you if you’ve chopped their gun arm off.
The game was as fantastically gory and violent as the first, and Flying Wild Hog studios certainly need to have a bit of praise for not watering the action down in the sequel.
Another addition this time around was the inclusion of a four player co-op mode, which made things a little bit more exciting. In an interesting move, every player saw themselves as Lo Wang, with the other three players being represented as anonymous ninjas. Obviously, having a bit more firepower along for the ride is never a bad thing, and as I am much more in favour of co-op games than PvP, I was very pleased to see this feature make it into the game. I did enjoy some good times with a bunch of like-minded friends, blasting and slicing enemies into atoms late into the night.
Shadow Warrior 2 did enjoy a good stint on Microsoft’s brilliant Game Pass service, joining in 2018 and only leaving in March 2022, just in time for the launch of the third game, in a completely unexpected move. Whether Shadow Warrior 3 will appear on the service is currently unknown, but the smart money says that it will be at some stage; the original Shadow Warrior reboot was also given away as part of Games with Gold, so the track record is there.
So, these are my memories of playing Shadow Warrior 2, back in the day – 2017 to be precise. But what about you guys out there? Did you play this at release or on the Game Pass while it was there? What did you think of the bonkers story, and how did the gameplay grab you? Let us know in the comments.
You can find Shadow Warrior 2 playable on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5 and PC. The Xbox Store will provide you with the Xbox download you need.