A Racoon Bitch Slap to the Face
By Eric Getty Gettinger
Your favorite katana wielding anti-hero, Lo Wang, makes his foul mouthed return in Shadow Warriors 3 in a glorious, and gorey, fashion. If you are an adrenaline junkie who loves fast and frantic combat with a bonkers story then Shadow Warriors 3, SW3, is here to deliver. While it is a departure from the last entry in the series SW3 does a lot of good by limiting its systems so they are not overwhelming. A stronger argument could be made that the amount of platforming and kill rooms can be tedious at times, but with the variety of weapons and attack variations I disagree. The story is rather quick but it is truly funny and entertaining with the characters you meet, some old enemies, and returning friends. This irreverent and slaughter happy game scratches the itch for your twitch FPS genre.
Lo Wang is back and this time he doesn’t have an unlimited amount of weapons. Cutting out the need to shop and farm upgrades for your weapons streamlines SW3. You unlock weapons from progressing the story and you have only seven including your trusty katana. Combat is so fast paced that you need to be able to switch on the fly including use of the katana. Your sword is bound to the alt-fire button so being able to jump and dodge while firing helps as you get in close for a barrage of slices. Where SW3 really shines is making the enemies into weapons, that’s right! By obtaining finisher energy you can kill an enemy and cannibalize them into a weapon. From a freeze grenade, gatling guns, to a laser disco ball of death you have so many resources to mow down your enemies.
The story is extremely linear as your main goal is to defeat the giant dragon who is destroying the world. The story has you meet up with old enemy turned tense ally Zilla and then its dead sprint through the content. In Shadow Warriors 2 players had time to go back, adjust your load out, buy new gear but with the Wang Cave already destroyed there is no reason. The action is a combination of kill rooms connected by platforming sections where Wang does some crazy and insane acrobatics. The environments you are exploring showcase so much of the shattered world (Mountain peaks, jungles, giant Chi weapons…) and at any time the ground can come crashing down or through a failed jump between platforms. With the speed and intensity of the battles and zipping around SW3 plays very quickly and the entire game will only take about 5-6 hours based on your platforming and combat skills. Those looking to extend their time can find all the hidden upgrades or complete battle challenges.
Some of the critiques this player has for SW3 revolve around battle challenges and the random phrases Wang will spit out during battle. With the frequency of battles you will find yourself falling into a routine but the number of phrases Wang has at his disposal are limited, so I was quoting along with him by the end of the game. Which isn’t always bad but not all of the things he says are funny, “time to call your insurance agent because that’s a total loss of assets!” after a brutal attack, but now it’s ingrained in my mind. Challenges no doubt add more to the combat system and force me to test my skills in order to unlock as many as possible. Some challenges have you perform a task 50 times and through the natural flow of SW3 it is unlikely to accomplish unless you post up in an area and wait for enemies to spawn with the sole purpose of killing them all in the same fashion. It can be off putting.
Shadow Warriors 3 is a blast and to see the game change so much from SW2 to SW3 was a refreshing surprise. The reworking of systems to make it tight and more linear plays to the strengths of the character while not overstaying its welcome. The intense combat and hilarious story beats are at the heart of SW3. If you are already emotionally invested in this series then be forewarned it is much shorter play And without any side quests or mission select once you start it’s like a can of Pringles. So grab your favorite energy drink, block off 5 hours from your weekend and use your enemies as weapons in this fast paced FPS. If that doesn’t sell you then maybe the visual of a slow motion cut scene where a tanuki bitch slaps an enemy during a chase will. Also grapple hooks… everyone else has one now so why shouldn’t Wang?