DOOM Eternal’s smash-mouth, in your face action complimented by a heavy metal soundtrack is one of last gen’s real highlights.
It was the perfect way to bring a classic franchise into the current gaming eco-system with its own unique sense of style. So, of course, a slew of other games wanted to try the same thing.
I’d say Shadow Warrior 3 is the closest to really nailing what made the game so good, and yet also managing to do things its own way.
With Lo Wang, we’ve got a character who will pull a head off your shoulders and cave a skull in Mortal Kombat style, but also wear a cute cat bandage on his finger and fire off quotes like ‘Zap, Zap, Pow, Wow, You’re Dead, haha’.
He has his own unique sense of style and never is that more apparent than when we find him at the beginning of the game, running around in his pants, playing with a set of puppets.
But this is also a guy who can ‘Force Push’ his enemies off a cliff, so, it kind of balances things out.
Each game in the series has reinvented itself. The original bridged the gap between the classic game, modernising the humour as well as the graphics and gameplay. Shadow Warrior 2 took things further, almost moulding a sort of looter-shooter, RPG-esque experience, which allowed the franchise to begin to standalone.
Shadow Warrior 3 is different again, but comfortable in its new rhythm now. The story is given more room to breathe and isn’t continuously slowed down by shoehorned references to every piece of pop culture. Although it still finds a way to jest about the ‘trendiness’ of a grapplehook and call its bosses ‘Ancient Cock’.
So, yes, the game is still loaded with terrible jokes, but it’s unfair to just dismiss it as spoof and satire now, even though that’s where Shadow Warrior got its start.
In fact, to show you how far the franchise has come, there’s even a line in there about mental health, where Lo Wang assures people Mental Health is ‘health’ and not to be ‘ashamed to seek help’ should you need it.
Shadow Warrior 3 picks right up where the second one left – but honestly, don’t worry too much if you’ve never dived into the series before. A massive, all powerful dragon god is about to wreak havoc on the planet and it’s pretty much Lo Wang’s fault it’s there in the first place.
You’ve got to right your own wrongs by slicing, dicing, blasting and shooting just about everything you can see in a bid to save the world.
And there’s really not much more to it than that. In-between mini-arenas where you run around a kind of sandbox environment, you have to survive the impending hordes, using all the weapons at your disposal.
Fortunately, you have the aforementioned grappling hook which you can use to swing yourself around and walls you can run along to get out of danger but there are also environmental elements you can use to protect yourself, like grinders and dicers.
The enemy and weapon variety is pretty great. You’ll get your easily dispatched mobs to begin with, but pretty soon you’ll be dealing with samurais that deflect your blows and wild, joker jack-in-the-box style enemies that are equally terrifying as they are ferocious.
Fortunately, Wang has his trusty katana which can dice through just about anything, as well as rocket launchers, machine guns, and a shuriken slicer which is super speedy and powerful.
And as you progress, you can earn upgrade points in the world or by completing a series of unique challenges the game has set up for you, like Wang punching enemies off ledges and killing multiple enemies at once time with a katana slash.
Weapon and character upgrades can then be applied, such as increasing your health or adding elemental effects to weapons. It helps keep things fresh across the entire campaign.
Which, sadly, is probably where the game is let down. There’s about 5-7 hours worth of content here and not much else besides. Which, for the hefty price tag, doesn’t really make for great value for money. At least with DOOM you had the multiplayer element to rely on to keep things going.
It’s a tough game if you notch it up from easy, but even that won’t stop you from smashing through the content pretty sharpishly. The game also feels a tad ‘slippery’ when you’re platforming, jumping and wall-running. One wrong flick of the analog can see you hurtling down ravines.
I also found a few times that I was dying randomly when jumping. There was no real reason for it, other than I slightly positioned myself in a way the game didn’t like. It was totally out of my control and did lead to a few frustrations late on.
Sadly, it also gets a bit juddery on frame rate, especially on PS4 when playing on a PS5. The cut scenes are ‘hiccupy’ and the action can briefly halt from time to time if things get a bit frantic.
Shadow Warrior 3 is all pretty solid and well presented. There’s fun to be had and blood to be spewed, though it’s probably not a game you’ll be thinking much about once the credits roll.
Shadow Warrior 3 doesn’t quite top the 2nd for me but what it does, it does very well. It is very limited in terms of its offerings and there are some technical hitches that slow its momentum which games like this really rely on. But on the whole, I had an enjoyable time with Lo Wang and co, and the weapon variety really helps keep this interesting from beginning to end.
+ A great arsenal of weapons that really diversify combat
+ Feels and plays pretty solid
+ Some stunning visuals
– Very limited campaign and not much else besides.
– Technical limitations slow the game’s momentum
Shadow Warrior 3 is now available on Xbox, PC and PlayStation
Played on PC and PS4
Code Kindly Provided by Devolver Digital