For those who might remember an old game by 3D Realms named Shadow Warrior, do I have a treat for you. While at E3 I had the pleasure of meeting with the people from Devolver Digital and Flying Hog Wild outside of the convention center on Tuesday. I and my fellow Pop Cults staffer, Daniel Shatto, were privy to a demo of a reboot of the series, appropriately titled Shadow Warrior, which sees the return of Lo Wang — the protagonist from the original game. As we stepped into the air conditioned trailer (thankfully because it was hot as hell outside), we were greeted by Nigel Lowrie as he sat us down for a quick demo of the game while he gave us a skinny on the game.
In Shadow Warrior, the player controls Lo Wang as he sets out on a mission to retrieve a mysteriously powerful sword for his crime lord boss. On the way to the location, the player is getting acquainted with the kind of person Lo Wang is. If you know anything of 3D Realms other games (*cough* Duke Nukem *cough*) then you have a pretty good idea what kind of guy Lo Wang is. In short, he is kind of a real asshole ready to spout out one-liners at the drop of a hat, or a bad guy in the case of this game. Driving a custom sports car that is definitely compensating for something and blasting out Stan Bush’s The Touch from his speakers. He talks to his boss for a bit before being told to retrieve the sword no matter what.
As Lo Wang reaches the location, he immediately encounters several human enemies that he quickly dispatches with a combination of sword and gun play. He decimates wave after wave until after reaching the old man he is to retrieve the sword from before being knocked out, at which point the game then jumps forward and the player is introduced to demonic enemies who are intent on keeping Lo Wang from reaching the sword in question. We are then introduced to Lo Wang’s mystical powers, which he uses to heal himself and push and levitate his enemies. Then Nigel ends the demo and ask me if I would like to try out the game for myself.
How could I say no to such a gracious invitation? Of course I wanted to play the game for myself. I was a fan of the original game and I really wanted to see the game in action ever since I heard it would be showing at E3. I took control of the mouse and keyboard and with a little tutorial from the developers of Flying Hog Wild, I was off and trying my hand at killing using Lo Wang’s particular set of skills, which were fully unlocked in the demo and available to use. Mixing in sword, gun and magical play into killing off enemy wave after wave, it is a definite challenge to get through the game without being killed or overwhelmed. The game itself isn’t overly difficult, or at least it is not in this build version of the game, but it isn’t a walk in the park either. I died no less than 5 times in the demo facing a wide variety of enemy types of varying size and power skills.
After finishing the demo, which included a huge boss fight that really tested all my FPS skills, I emerged victorious and was left reveling in the awesomeness of what I had just played. In short, the game looks amazingly beautiful. Not quite what you would expect from a first person shooter — most FPS games are dark and very devoid of bright colors. Shadow Warrior doesn’t shy away from bright and vibrant visuals for their settings. In the first level alone we are looking at a variety of level types and designs that show off both the familiar dark FPS settings against new and refreshing levels dotted with running run, green pastured fields and visually appealing cherry blossom trees that blanket the landscape with color palettes rarely seen in these games. On that merit alone, Shadow Warrior deserves some attention.
Then you have the character of Lo Wang, who is almost a Duke Nukem knockoff in an Asian man’s body and soul. Thankfully the one-liners and quips actually make more sense in the game than they did in most Duke Nukem games. The developers and writers made sure that when Lo Wang comments on something it is actually relevant to the scenario he finds himself in. So while he may be “an asshole” – at least he isn’t an annoying asshole. This actually makes him funnier and more enjoyable a character to play around as than Duke.
Currently planned for a PC-only release, the team has not ruled out making the game for home consoles, if design and budget allows. Also, they are still working on making the game compatible with PC controllers as for now the game is still working on the old school keyboard and mouse controls many PC gamers are accustomed to. Whatever the final result may be, I believe that Shadow Warrior is turning out to be a great game and one that I am certainly looking to purchase when it becomes available sometime in the fall of 2013. Do yourselves a favor and at least give this a look — you may find yourself liking this game as much as I did.