Shadow Warrior 2

Shadow Warrior's surprising new direction makes the sequel a riotous blast, though it can't quite live up to its predecessor.

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UPDATE: It looks as if the original Shadow Warrior has been free on Steam since 2013, when publisher Devolver released an updated version of the 1997 adventure called Shadow Warrior Classic Redux. This Complete Edition has been free on GOG since September.

Shadow Warrior 2 is fine on consoles but lacks key features

Digital FoundryShadow Warrior 2 is fine on consoles but lacks key features

60fps gameplay is gone, no PS4 Pro support and some baffling downgrades.

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.

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.

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Shadow Warrior 2 review

Shadow Warrior 2 review

Gore-derlands.

There are two important things you need to know about the sequel to Shadow Warrior.

It has a gun made of skulls, for which the magazine is also a skull.In Lo Wang's world, a gun made of skulls does not warrant any special attention whatsoever.

Shadow Warrior 2

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My hands-on time with Shadow Warrior 2 started innocently enough: a quick run-through of the controls from Flying Wild Hog's, Tadeusz Zielinski before an introduction to the sequel's brand new level structure.

Shadow Warrior 2 is a surprising sequel

Flying Wild Hog's 2013 remake of 3D Realms' campy 1997 first-person shooter Shadow Warrior was so successful that the Polish developer has more than tripled in size in the last three years. This swift evolution from a niche team of around 30 to a triple-A developer roughly 100 strong is clear upon spending even a few minutes with its impending sequel, Shadow Warrior 2.

Predictably, this retail follow-up to a digital cult classic has seen an obvious boost in production value (it looks scrumptious enough to rival any blockbuster these days), but that's only the tip of the iceberg for what Flying Wild Hog is up to. It doesn't just want to make a better Shadow Warrior; it wants to transform the Shadow Warrior brand from an acquired taste to a mainstream hit. Based on an hour playing its early build at PAX East, it seems up to the task.

Arguably the biggest game-changer this time around is that the levels are procedurally generated. Designer Pawel Kowalewski told Eurogamer that each stage is comprised of two or three randomly generated 200 meter square tiles. Certain sections will look familiar as you'll see similar themes, architecture and enemy types specific to the stage, but the location of your foes, loot, and more will shuffle with each playthrough.

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15 minutes of Shadow Warrior 2 gameplay footage

15 minutes of Shadow Warrior 2 gameplay footage

All it needs is a katana hat.

Devolver has released 15 minutes of Shadow Warrior 2 gameplay footage from E3.

The smooth 60fps footage brilliantly shows the game's fast and bloody sword-swishing and gun-firing mayhem.

Five minutes in, a second player shows up, and the duo chop their way to a boss battle.

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Shadow Warrior 2 announced for PS4, Xbox One and PC

Shadow Warrior 2 announced for PS4, Xbox One and PC

UPDATE: Four-player co-op! New trailer! 2016 release!

UPDATE 11/06/2015 4.49pm: Shadow Warrior 2 is confirmed for PS4, Xbox One and PC, publisher Devolver Digital has announced.

It will also have four-player co-op.

Here's the first trailer for Flying Wild Hog's upcoming urban ninja fantasy.

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