MORE WANG FOR YOUR BUCK

Flying Wild Hog, Devolver Digital. These two names are enough these days to get me to shell out for a game they're making on faith alone. When news of Shadow Warrior 2 hit it was almost 'too good to be true' in that regard, what they promised was a laundry-list of cool stuff that made me think of Diablo 3 as a first person shooter-stabber-slasher.

I was a big fan of the remake of Shadow Warrior so I kept my eye on 2. Then Xbox kindly gave us a code for the sequel and it was time to get my Wang back into the game once more!

I can confirm that if you don't like reading reviews or can't be arsed - this game is one worth every damn penny, and if you don't have the first, buy the collection with both in and get ready for over-the-top action and salty/cheesy/bad-taste quips from series protagonist: Lo Wang.

Shadow Warrior is back, bloodier, more violent and packed with more content than ever before.

Get yo Wang on!

Bigger and Better Wang

Lo Wang, mercenary for hire, smack-talker of the gods and all-round sassy badass is back in this second crazy first person martial arts, guns and magic powers adventure. Everything about Shadow Warrior 2 has been dialled up to 11 out of the gate. From the awesome opening sequence and tutorial to the various game systems that run smoothly throughout play.

I'm not going to talk about the story, you can experience that for yourselves if you decide to pick this game up.

Playing with some New Wang

There's lots to cover in terms of the gameplay itself. It remains faithful to Shadow Warrior and there are several difficulty levels that cover the usual settings, as well as how easy it is to use the combat system which like Shadow Warrior before it responds to the direction you're attacking a bad guy in, allowing you to strategically dismember the hell out of your enemies and soak the world in demon blood.

In Shadow Warrior 2 though you've got a new dodge move, you can take advantage of double jumps and rather than being confined to the ground level of these bigger/better maps you can climb up, leap to rooftops and run around like a 100% Ninja-Badass.

You've also got an expanded arsenal of weapons, running the gamut from melee (katanas, knives, axes and various other death-dealing implements of violent demon destruction) to ranged, bows, rocket launchers, and a plethora of cruelly designed guns with various abilities.

Much of this loot is random, with stats and so on just like say: Diablo 3. The weapons usually come with slots for gems too, and these gems are random drops that can boost your weapons stats to insane ranges of damage and power. You can slot them freely, remove them, switch them around your expansive collection of weapons and create the Wang arsenal of your dreams.

Some of these gems are elemental in nature and will add elemental effects to your attacks, ice, poison, fire, electricity - all that good stuff!

Lo Wang also has skills now that appear like collectible cards, allowing you to earn Karma (from fighting like a badass), levelling up from said Karma and putting point into skills - skills like Vortex strike, a 360 spin that can rip chunks of health and body parts from enemies surrounding you.

If you die, you lose cash and can spawn back in at the nearest checkpoint.

Sweet Procedural Wang Batman!

So lets talk a bit about what makes Shadow Warrior 2 so damn awesome right? Well, for a start, it's taking a non-linear approach to the way you pick up missions. There's side missions and bounty hunts, free roam across unlocked areas and a HUGE hub for you to explore - including, the WANG Cave, your base of operations, a home away from home, and a place to pick up the odd quest and hunt.

The hub (Dragon Mountain) has shops so you can buy/sell stuff as well as a few other secrets that I won't spoil.

From here you can enter the world proper via missions and this is where I really LOVE this game. See, not content with offering tons of content in Shadow Warrior 2, every single mission that you embark on has numerous procedural features that are generated to make it different each time. You can end up having to kill a bunch of dudes in a mission that takes you from mountains, into caves, across a twisted cyberpunk corporation facility and into a Japanese-style village before you're done, and most of these quests are massive in terms of explorable landmass.

You'll encounter procedurally generated enemies, encounters, loot and find all sorts of cool chests and collectibles dotted around.

I've not been bored by this game once.

With the mix of neat level design, enemy groups, loot and sheer madness that ensues each time you leap into a level of the game, nothing feels outdated or same-old. It's pure fun at the basest video game level. Kill monsters, get loot, explore, find stuff, gain Karma and level up.

The perfect tonic to the really serious story driven games I've been playing of late.

Shadow Warrior 2 also has a town portal style trick that lets you jump out, sell loot, buy ammo, get new stuff and dive right back in.

Fast or Slow Wang

Load times are fair and once the map's loaded in, leaping in and out to sell stuff is quick.

Save System Props

Shadow Warrior 2 has a save system that constantly saves progress at various checkpoints (shrines) you encounter, as well as saving regularly via auto saves.

Great Looking, Wangtastic Graphics

Shadow Warrior 2 is bold, colourful, big, brash and just damn good looking. It rips along at a decent frame-rate on the Xbox One now thanks to the recent patch that eliminated a few demon-bugs that got into the game. The sense of grandeur and design throughout the game is excellent, and the whole thing is slick-looking. When the weather kicks off, just look at the sky during a massive storm and you'll see what I mean.

Tongue in Cheek Animations

There's a great sense of humour to this game, from the animations when you try and reload a weapon that's full of ammo. Wang will often perform some trick or move with said weapon, flipping people off or spinning his shotgun around 360 like a badass. Top marks for this Flying Wild Hog, it's better than the bog-standard reload animations in most games. Also, the reloads themselves are excellent for many of the weapons, with Wang throwing clips up in the air before he catches them with the gun.

Superb!

The Sound of One Wang Laughing

I love the sound design in this game, from the in-game sounds, music, delightfully corny and sassy dialogue, to the ribald one-liners that Wang delivers throughout. It all comes together in one mad-cap package.

One Ninja, Two Ninja, FOUR!

You can play the whole of Shadow Warrior 2 solo, or you can team up with friends, sharing the Wang adventure with a maximum of 3 other players for a 4 player Wang adventure. The whole thing runs smoothly and it's comparable to Diablo 3 in the way it seamlessly handles multiplayer, and of course: Loot. No loot-stealing assholes can ruin your game this way!

I recommend teaming up at least once or twice because it really is a blast.

Flying Wild Wang

I've said Wang a lot during this review. I blame Devolver Digital and Flying Wild Hog, because truly, they have infested my mind with thoughts of this game. I'm trying to play another game and I'm thinking: but I could be chopping up demons with my Wang arsenal instead.

The mark of a kick-ass title, especially if you want something a bit different than Sgt SeriousBastard Takes on the Reds for the 190th Time.

I've got demons to kill, see you in the Wang Cave!