First Person Swordplay With Shadow Warrior’s PS4 Preview

If you thought chatty protagonists in the vein of Duke Nukem had gone the way of the dodo after Duke Nukem Forever’s catastrophic release, you would be wrong. For one thing, a handful of companies are still scrapping over the rights to the Duke, but Polish-based Flying Wild Hog have also resurrected another classic 3D Realms franchise, Shadow Warrior.

I missed the game when it was originally released on PC in September last year, but the game is now making the jump to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and sees the return of Lo Wang from the original 1997 Shadow Warrior game. The game starts with Lo Wang on an errand to buy an ancient katana from a man named Miyazaki, with a briefcase stuffed full of cash and instructions to acquire the sword whatever it takes.

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When Miyazaki refuses the offer, setting his ample retinue of bodyguards on Wang, you get to enjoy the brutal and gory heart to the gameplay. This is swordplay at it’s most hilariously gruesome best, with quick slashes and charged up swipes taking off enemy limbs, cleaving them in two and generally creating a whole lot of red mess all over the place.

It’s brilliantly accessible, with first person directional slashing (though I didn’t get the hang of how best to control the direction you slash from) giving a particularly satisfying degree of precision as it chops off limbs accurately. Importantly, it’s kept fast paced and frantic, as, without a blocking action, you will constantly be dodging attacks and dancing around enemies while striking quickly against seemingly overwhelming odds.

In fact, I find myself using the sword almost exclusively, even when facing enemies with SMGs. The handful of early weapons are simply no match in terms of power or fun, and this imbalance is easily made wider as you start to unlock new abilities and attacks.

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As you play, you’ll start to unlock new abilities, like self healing rather than relying on the partially regenerative health and health pack, and more powerful attacks. Cracking open Ki Crystals is one way of boosting your abilities and stats further, adding tattoos to Wang’s body in what looks like a deep and sprawling upgrade system..

Making use of these abilities also highlights one of the little tweaks that has been made for the PS4. Activating them is a slightly finicky process of double tapping in a direction on the analogue stick and pulling a trigger, similar to the process on keyboard and mouse. But there’s a much better, much quicker and more intuitive method that sees you simply swipe on the touchpad as you pull that trigger in order to activate it.

It’s as you start to discover abilities that you also see a story seemingly filled with mysticism and mythology start to unfold. It just so happens that as Wang is closing in on the Nobitsura Kage blade, it is whisked away as a demonic invasion breaks out.

Along the way, you’ll also meet and team up with the banished spirit called Hoji. His first appearance points to the sense of humour that the game has. Rather than the overly lewd nature of Duke Nukem’s latest, there’s plenty of humour to be found in their dialogue without devolving into one-liners about Wang’s name and stereotypes. Those are there, but they don’t seem to be the centrepiece, with Flying Wild Hog able to take the plot in their own direction.

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The quick shift in plot means that you’ll now find yourself fighting lesser demons rather than human goons, with a slightly different challenge as a consequence, as they take a little more damage but won’t block your attacks. But these are just the first steps on a longer adventure that’s sure to introduce tougher enemies and hopefully give you a handful of reasons to explore gunplay as well as the sword.

A cursory look at the reviews of the PC version certainly put this high up on my watch list, pointing to a reboot that gets a lot right as it updates an old formula for more modern days. So if you’re after some old school action, gory first person hacking and slashing and a plot and script that might just surprise you, this is one to keep an eye on.

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4 Comments

  1. Put my name down for this! Look like FUN!

  2. Interesting, this looks like fun. The swordplay should be very entertaining.

  3. Oh, wow! That was incredibly entertaining. I loved it when he started singing along! Ha. :-)

  4. I nearly got this the other day on Steam.

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