Released last year, Shadow Warrior 2 on the PC remains one of the best-looking first person shooters on the platform. With its gorgeous HDR-enabled visuals and lightning fast performance, Shadow Warrior 2 represents the best of the PC platform. And now, you can play it on consoles, but the question is - should you?
We were especially looking forward to this one, because developer Flying Wild Hog did a good job with its prior consoles ports on the first Shadow Warrior, way back in 2014. It had its quirks, such as screen-tearing during heavy combat, but it managed to deliver PC quality visuals at a moderately stable 60 frames per second. We were hoping for the next step up from the sequel, but three years on, Shadow Warrior 2 feels like a retrograde step in some ways.
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We should stress that it's still a beautiful game, perhaps even one of the best-looking shooters on the market today, but it has several issues that keep it from reaching its full potential. The most obvious loss compared to the previous game is frame-rate. With visuals this sumptuous, it's not entirely surprising that 60fps gameplay is off the table but after seeing impressive results in games like Doom or Battlefield 1, we still had hope- especially when the developer expressed the intention of hitting 60fps on consoles when I met them back in Gamescom 2015.
The reality is that the final shipping version of Shadow Warrior 2 on consoles runs at 30fps. While this is certainly disappointing bearing in mind how good it feels on PC at twice the frame-rate, it should be noted that the 30fps implementation is sound. Frame-rate drops are virtually non-existent on both PS4 and Xbox One (though there is some minor tearing on this platform), while frame-pacing is adhered to scrupulously. When combined with the excellent motion blur, the game still manages to feel smooth, but with the high speed of the action, it's certainly a step down from the blazing fast PC release. For performance reasons alone, if PC is an option, we'd recommend sticking with that version.
Other omissions in the console version are somewhat puzzling. For one thing, Shadow Warrior 2 was one of the very first PC games to offer support for high dynamic range output. It was gorgeous - one of the best implementations of last year. This seems like a no-brainer for the console releases, but alas, it is completely absent. Considering that all available consoles aside from the original Xbox One support HDR, this is a disappointing oversight.
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Then there is the PS4 Pro support - or rather, the complete lack of it. You get the same exactly experience on PlayStation 4 Pro as you do on a standard PS4. With the Pro having been on the market for the better part of six months now, it seems ridiculous that high profile titles like this and Bethesda's Prey should ship with no Pro features whatsoever.
Other issues aren't so fundamental to the experience, but definitely feel a little rough around the edges considering the developer's proven technical prowess. Disparity in the quality of the texture work is an obvious example.
While we can't expect the entirety of the PC version's highest quality textures to make their way across to the consoles, we're still left with some wildly variable texture quality. In one area, you might run across some intricate ground textures with gorgeous brickwork using parallax occlusion mapping. Then you turn around and get much lower quality ground textures that stick out like a sore thumb - something you simply don't see on the original PC release.