Shadow Warrior 3 is an outstanding shooter with incredible graphics, gory gameplay, more of Lo Wang’s classic one-liners and is the best game in the series for me.
Shadow Warrior 3 is the latest iteration of the whacky and way-out-there adventures of Lo Wang in this first-person shooter that is incredibly fun and so action packed, the hours just while away so easily. Developed by Flying Wild Hog and published by Devolver Digital, the game will release at midnight AWST on March 2, 2022 for us Aussies. If you’re a fan of the first two rebooted games, you are in for a treat here. The movement is incredibly free running with the inclusion of wall running as well as the staple grappling hook and the graphics are insanely good. It really felt like a perfect meld of Doom Eternal, Rage 2 and Serious Sam 4 all rolled into a polished Shadow Warrior aesthetic, and it was gloriously good fun.
The voice actor for Lo Wang has been replaced in Shadow Warrior 3. The original 1997 3D Realms game featured the voice of John William Galt, and the 2013 reboot’s voice actor was Jason Liebrecht. I only played the 2013 Shadow Warrior so my first hearing of the voice was Jason’s, and I loved the Bruce Lee twang he delivered. So many of the lines were funny just from the way they sounded, and the humourous writing just made those first two games so memorable. In this third game, Mike Moh does the voice of Lo Wang, and while I had some initial doubts, he has absolutely nailed it. It’s jarring at first, no doubt about that. I do miss that particular twang that Liebrecht used, but very quickly I adjusted and came to really enjoy Moh’s version of Lo Wang. There were numerous times where I would laugh out loud at some of the things he said. As a self-proclaimed mix of an Asian Clint Eastwood with Bruce Lee’s kung fu, this game was like playing an Asian Serious Sam with amazing graphics and perfectly timed one-liners as things blow up in his face.
The game starts at the Wang Cave with Lo Wang lamenting the events of the previous game. Strutting around in his stained white undies and singlet, he’s explaining to the mask of Hoji, the last remnant of the lost God of Mischief, his adventures and where he went wrong. In a memory sequence, we learn how to play the game. Using left mouse button to swing his trusty katana and right mouse button to shoot weapons, we are slicing and dicing our way through enemy mobs with blood and guts spraying everywhere. Killing monsters with your katana will produce ammo drops, while killing a monster with a gun will produce health orbs. If it wasn’t already apparent, this game is definitely only for adults.
We are fighting on the back of the huge ass dragon that was unleashed at the end of Shadow Warrior 2 as Lo Wang tries to get to the head to deliver a killing blow. However, the Dragon has some tricks up it’s sleeve and send Lo Wang flying through the night sky. He obviously survives but his ego, or rather his mojo as he puts it, has been dealt a heavy blow. While he’s regaling his misfortunes, Orochi Zilla makes an appearance. Previously Lo Wang’s nemesis, he suggests they work together to harness the chi energy from Hoji’s mask and use it to defeat the dragon. While defending Zilla from attack, Lo Wang pushes him out of the way. In doing so, Hoji’s mask activates and sucks Zilla into its void. Wang then needs to track Zilla down before demons can burst through the sanctuary gates.
The graphics and environments are very well put together. We seem to always be near cliffs and high forests, so the path between objectives is relatively linear requiring well-timed jumps, wall running and grappling to vines while singing, “Does whatever a spider can.” There were a heap of pop culture references through the game which I appreciated. We can find purple character upgrade orbs to upgrade Lo Wang’s chi-blast, health regen, ammo use and environmental damage options. There are also silver weapon orbs to collect which are used to upgrade the katana and the various weapons Lo Wang will find along the way. The weapons sound brutal and range from a 6-shooter and dual assault rifles to a shotgun and grenade launcher, saw blade launcher and other cool weapons. The final orb type we can collect are orange/yellow finisher orbs.
Collect enough to fill up the finisher meter and we can use ‘Q’ to execute monsters. Some we can just brutally destroy to gain some health points, but most others will give us a temporary-use item or weapon that can help Lo Wang get out of some sticky situations. Some finishing moves will have you punch through and break off a heavy hammer and smash the skull of the monster, then you’ll be able to use the hammer to delivery devastating area effect blows. Others will see you punch or kick your way into the monster’s body and pull out a gore weapon to use. There’s a sword that will launch yourself to the enemy and stab through it, generally killing it with one blow, or launch a grenade that will explode and obliterate anything nearby.
The grappling hook not only helps to traverse wide gaps in the landscape, it becomes a very versatile option in battle arenas for quick escapes but also for some really cool acrobatic combat manoeuvres. Traversing between locations never felt like a chore given the wall running and grappling hook. As you progress, combat gets super intense with lots of enemies coming at you. As your health depletes, you’ll want to try break away from combat to run and find a health orb, or ammo orbs if you’re getting low. Often you are surrounded by such huge monsters that running and jumping is futile, so an option is to use the grappling hook to get yourself some height and give you options.
You can also use the momentum from the grapple swing to kick enemies or strategically kick elemental bombs into groups of monsters. There are also some contraptions that can be activated with various types of murderous traps, grinders and killing machines. If you can bunch up a few big monsters in the paths of these traps and then hit the triggers, you can despatch them pretty quickly in a very gruesome manner. The game certainly doesn’t shy away from the blood and guts, but this has been a mainstay of this series.
There were so many moments where I laughed out loud and Lo Wang’s one-liners or the content of the conversation he was having with Zilla or Hoji, who’s original voice actor Alex Dobrenko makes a return. As mentioned previously, I think Mike Moh has done a great job with Lo Wang’s voice and the humourous interactions definitely lightens up the sometimes dark and gruesome story that’s unfolding as you play through the chapters. Cutscenes link each chapter and with the lightning fast pace of movement between locations, the game progressed very quickly I couldn’t get enough of Lo Wang’s antics.
Overall, Shadow Warrior 3 is an outstanding shooter with incredible graphics, gory gameplay, more of Lo Wang’s classic one-liners and is the best game in the series for me. The addition of the grappling hook made movement feel free and fluid, and opened up combat for quick escapes and swinging mayhem. The gore weapons from executions were great, as were the traps if you could time them right. This is an outstanding Shadow Warrior game and fans of the first two games are going to have a blast.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis