Does Shadow Warrior 3 end on a High or a Lo?
Shadow Warrior 3 launches the offbeat first-person shooter series to the next level with a seamless blend of fast-paced gunplay, razor-sharp melee combat, and a spectacular free-running movement system. Fallen corporate shogun Lo Wang and his former employer turned nemesis turned sidekick Orochi Zilla embark on an improbable mission to recapture an ancient dragon they unwillingly unleashed from its eternal prison. Armed with a punishing mix of blades and bullets, Lo Wang must traverse uncharted parts of the world to track down the dark beast and push the apocalypse back yet again. All it will take is the mask of a dead god, a dragon’s egg, a touch of magic, and enough firepower to hold off the impending cataclysm. Bring a Katana to a Gunfight. Conduct a symphony of death with each encounter by mixing overwhelming firepower with devastatingly precise katana strikes as you dash in and around the demonic hordes.
I have to admit this is my first entry into the Shadow Warrior series, so the backstory of Lo Wang and whatever went down between him and Zilla in the past games was unknown to me other than a few backhanded references through dialogue between them. Still, the story itself comes across as nothing too serious and not that important, when in fact it’s more of a comedy action situation where one-liners and cheesy dialogue passes to push you forwards.
Gameplay consists of fast-paced running and gunning, wall-running, as well as using enemies’ abilities against them by ripping it out from them directly. You essentially end up entering an arena-type area each time, dealing with a number of enemies, and then moving on to the next via some parkour platforming with a dash of grappling hooks. Every few arenas you’ll be introduced to a new enemy which will become added to the mixture in future arenas and the cycle continues so there’s a bunch of different ones towards the end. Enemies vary from small screaming kamikaze-types to giant monsters that each has their own unique ability that Lo can extract from them.
These vary from freezing a group of enemies, a disco-like ball shooting energy beams at your foes or a homing katana attack that means just a tap of the trigger gets you slicing and dicing each enemy in your way. There’s a nice variety of weapons too from katanas, pistols, shotguns, mini-guns, grenade launcher, rocket launcher and so on. Health and ammo is dropped by enemies but is also scattered across each arena, as are environmental hazards like exploding barrels and spikes that you can “Jedi” enemies into.
Upgrades are collected as you progress, but some are hidden, and the rest have to be earned through Challenges like killing a specific number of enemies with a certain weapon or ability. The problem is though that the game has no New Game+ or Chapter Select so you have to nab all upgrades in one playthrough or you’re going to have to replay the whole thing to get those trophies. It’s strange since I hear that the past Shadow Warrior games had NG+, but maybe they’ll add it in a future patch? I can only hope.
The comedy itself has some hit and miss moments, but I found myself laughing more than not. Gameplay itself does get a bit repetitive after a bit since each battle does end up feeling more of the same, even with new enemy types thrown in. You also need to focus on the bigger enemies in fights or the smaller ones will keep respawning, which is something I didn’t figure out for quite a while.
The visuals are impressive considering the game is a PS4 title and there’s no PS5 boost or upgrade available (yet), and the framerate itself is also mostly consistent. There are a few drops in between transitioning out of cutscenes, but impressive overall. The voice-acting is mixed, but I personally enjoyed it and the game also has a pretty decent soundtrack.
While the gameplay becomes repetitive after a while and not all jokes land solidly, Shadow Warrior 3 is still a decent shooter that doesn’t take itself seriously and is essentially all action from start to finish. Definitely worth a look for those who have had enough of “gritty” shooters and just want a laugh.