Who Wanta Some Wang?
Juvenile, and racially dubious humour aside, I am extremely excited to tell you that the classic PC FPS game Shadow Warrior, has been given the update treatment by 3D Realms and released on Steam. Duke Nukem 3D recently received this honour, and was a must-purchase for anyone who enjoys the frantic and exhilarating action of old school first person shooters. Shadow Warrior is a very similar game to Duke Nukem 3d, replacing the blonde, gun-toting meathead with a wise-cracking oriental man wielding a sword and shurikens.
This brand new redux edition features both the classic Shadow Warrior we all know and love, plus the redux version that features enhanced visuals. While not a full HD update as such, it adds 3d models for the collectible items, and smoothed textures, giving it a less pixellated look. I think 3D Realms have done a great job, as the visual style of these older games are part of the appeal. Adding new 3D enemy models and could (and probably would) have ruined the experience. Then there are the two addon packs released for the game. Wanton Destruction and Twin Dragon both add new locales to explore and new enemy types to slaughter. It is, essentially, more of the same, but when the core game is so much fun, this can only be a good thing.
Shadow Warrior puts you in the shoes of Lo Wang (groan), and tasks you with running around the city based stages, slicing, dicing, and generally kicking the asses of anything that moves. There is a wafer-thin story - something about the Zilla Corporation in future Japan - but it is utterly irrelevant to proceedings. This is a FPS from the wonderful era of action over cutscenes.
Like Duke, it is an andrenalin rush from start to finish. The pace of the gameplay is exceptionally fast, and the action gory and very brutal. Slicing foes with your katana will result in their severed bodies falling apart, rockets cause them to explode in a shower of blood and guts, and some enemies will even blow their own brains out in a horrible suicide effort. As well as your sword and death stars, you will find Uzi submachine guns, a shotgun cannon, a rail gun, rocket launcher, and even a magical enemy's head - which you use by sticking your fingers into the mushy brains on display.
There are some crazy creatures for you to slice and dice, from the standard demonic humanoids that make up the games sword-fodder, to suicide bombers that release an irritating flying ghost upon their death. You will encounter fireball throwing ogres, ferocious dog-like beasts and a shadow monster who rains all kind of nightmarish death on you - Shadow Warrior's version of Doom 2's Arch-vile.
The ceaseless carnage is paired with a zany sense of humour that lightens the mood somewhat. Much like Duke Nukem, Lo Wang spouts silly catchphrases in a rather over-the-top accent that will get the politically correct brigade running to the Daily Mail to complain. There are amusing puns based on the teachings of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius that pop up (with comedy gong sound, naturally) each time you find a hidden fortune cookie, and there are some encounters with semi-naked anime girls who usually make some innuendo-laden comment. It is certainly not big or clever, but it often raises a smile (or maybe I am just an immature idiot).
There are slight distractions to this uber-carnage, such as finding keys and occasionally using interactive elements such as gun turrets or, randomly, a remote controlled car, but on the whole you will spend your time charging down city streets, ancient Chinese temples, and outdoor areas butchering multiple monsters. It is exceptionally good fun and is, without a doubt, one of my favourite FPS of all time. I have been playing it since its original release back in 1997 and it has not lost any of its over the top charm or addictive gameplay. Playing it now is both a reminder of how the PC was (and still is) the platform of choice for first person shooters, and how modern games of this ilk have lost the plot - switching the heart pumping, crazed action and humour for slower movement, more cutscenes and Q.T.E.'s and, most saddening of all, less humour and fun. Be warned though, Shadow Warrior can be exceptionally tough at times, especially the addon pack stages. Death comes often, often due to your very own, overpowered, explosive weapons. I certainly recommend playing through the standard Shadow Warrior levels before attempting the extra sets.
Shadow Warrior is a classic game worthy of this modernisation, and is a must-play for anyone who enjoys hyperactive first person mayhem. With the new visual polish, remixed theme music, both addon packs, and Steam achievements to earn, I simply cannot recommend this game enough. It has just been released and is being offered with a 15% reduction until July 22nd (making it £5.94), which is an absolute bargain. With both Duke Nukem 3D and now Shadow Warrior receiving the redux treatment, as well as a new Rise of the Triad nearing release, it would appear that Apogee / 3D Realms are back in action - something that all retro PC gamers will want to raise a glass and toast to!
Title: Shadow Warrior Redux
Developer: Apogee / 3D Realms
Year: 1997 / 2013
System: PC / Mac
Duke Nukem 3D : Megaton Edition