Online I go by the alias of Shuuda. I am currently living North Yorkshire, England. In 2011 I graduated from the University of Hull with a first class degree in Design for Digital Media, where I studied both the creative and theoretical sides of the digital technology and the internet.
As someone who is passionate about about video games than the fantasy genre, I am highly interested in how stories can be told through interactive media. I concern myself with how the genre is portrayed within the medium and its implications. I give it both criticism and praise, but mostly criticism. Writing fiction has been my hobby for many years, and I feel that video games have influenced and inspired the content of my work in recent times.
While I had written something else for this week, it has unfortunately been put to one side for the time being. Instead, and because I don't already see it being mentioned, I wanted to bring a little something to your attention.
It's the first public video, displaying the progress made on Sui Generis.
Sui Generis, currently in development by Bare Mettle, is an RPG that was successfully funded on Kickstarter last year. The project was rather overshadowed at the time by many of the celebrity Kickstarters that were going on during that period. It did make enough to succeed, but it did not gain the attention I feel it deserves.
While other RPG Kickstarters were aimed at reviving old school gems in this now mixed genre, Sui Generis offered something a bit different. While the project still looks like it has a long way left to travel, this video gives me hope that n fantastic game may see the light of day. If nothing else, I at least want see some light shone on Sui Generis around here.
This video shows some of the excellent work done by the Bare Mettle team, including the rather awesome chair tripping physics, an example of thaumaturgy, and its real time melee combat.
Note: this post has spoilers for Fire Emblem: Awakening.
First impressions matter. If a game fails to hook the audience then it can wind up being banished to the pit of the forgotten (though frankly, I have a soft spot for slow starting games). Unfortunately, the emerging trend in recent games is to pour too much on the start, causing the game to be front loaded. The result is a one night stand of a game. Something that's bouncy castle levels of fun, but only for a few hours. To put up a more sensible, and less suggestive definition; a front loaded game is one with a spectacular opening few hours, which is used for the purpose of masking the shallowness underneath.
Of course, the most recent Sim City game is a the perfect example of a front loaded game. The game ran impressively for the first few hours, and everything was dandy. It's only after a while that things began to fall apart. The obvious flaws in the game's AI became ever more apparent. A torrent of disgust followed, but it was too late by that point; EA had taken the money of many. Games that are front loaded don't lack on mechanical levels alone. This attitude to game design can infect all facets.
Examples of front loaded games are not always as obvious as EA's disaster of a city builder. Even games of good quality show signs of being front loaded. One such game that I've been thinking about is the most recent Fire Emblem title, Awakening. A lot of you might find that confusing, but when compared to the Fire Emblems of yesteryear, the evidence is there.
The first point of call is the visual design. More specifically, the character designs. Up until Awakening, Fire Emblem opted for modest designs. Rarely were they overblown. Most importantly, everything stuck to a consistent tone. The games were set in medieval fantasy realms, and the appearance reflected that. Awakening however, goes more in the direction of what I see as pop-fantasy. Many of the characters Ė let's just be honest, mostly the female characters Ė are full of fan-service. It's not Scarlet Blade by any stretch, but when you compare Awakening's designs to Fire Emblems of the past the intention becomes rather clear. It's the zazz factor; the developer's attempt to dazzle with flashy, overly decorative designs. Of course, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure that suits of armour that don't cover the back, or see through robes hardly fit the setting. It's style over substance, designed for marketing in mind more than world-building.
The story is perhaps the most jarring example of front loaded design I could find in the game. For the first ten chapters, it holds true to the staples of Fire Emblem. Villainous monarchs, a merry band of valiant heroes, and at least one boss who's purpose is to remind you that not everyone you're killing deserve it. After that, it jumps the shark with time travelling antics and certain characters not being so dead after all. The plot lost consistency and began to drag on for the rest of the game, which I think is contrary to past entries in the series.
But let's move on, before I get too ranty on that topic.
The promise of grand features, which in reality do little to improve the game is another calling card of front loaded games. Worse yet, is when a game tries to prop itself up entirely on these shallow features. Naturally, Sim City's online features provide a pretty apt example. The whole game was built around additions that no one really wanted or asked for. The end result was an extremely watered down single player experience, which was what nobody wanted. Every new MMO promises to change up the old model, but all of them devolve back into being inferior versions of WoW. With the onset of a new generation, open worlds looks like it's set to become the next turd chalice, though that might have already become the case.
Even small, or independent games can fall into the trap of being front loaded. I think back to InFlux, and how it's few mechanics wore out very quickly. This seems to be run of the mill for these kinds of puzzle games. They're sold on a single gimmick, with the hope that they might be the next Braid or Portal. It's not the number of mechanics that's important however, it's the depth of the mechanics that are present. The key difference between InFlux and Portal, is that the latter's mechanic did not grow as tedious.
Naturally, we can't close this until we take a look at the reasons. The motive in suspect became clear after an old article about Creative Assembly came to light regarding Total War: Rome II. The short story is that they did not want features in the game unless they thought they would yield a good Metacritic score. It comes down to developers and publishers wanting games that appeal to reviewers before the players.
Of course, the etiquette at this point is to point the finger at that braggart of a website, Metacritic. Curse you, Metacritic!
It makes sense; if everything looks swimming in the reviews, then the average gamer is none the wiser until they buy the game. We could blame the reviewers for this, because they might not be thorough enough to spot the faults. Given how many games they might have to go through a week, I don't think it would be fair to chide them for not being able to devote the tens of hours necessary to find these issues. At the end of the day, front loaded games are built to fool these people as much as the buyers.
The fault rests, as it so often does, on the publishers, though judging from the story with Creative Assembly, the developers need to take some of the footing as well. In their eyes there's little room for cult classics, like Beyond Good & Evil. A front loaded game has no room for subtly, or niche audiences. Short term success and profits appear to be at the forefront of their minds. Perhaps so much money is being spent on these games that they need to make it look like it justified the cost. It's an understandable viewpoint, but also one that I believe is directly opposed to the wishes of many others, who want games to aspire to artistic levels.
The most disappointing thing of all, is that these front loaded games sell very well. It's the trumiph of marketing over art.
In case you havenít noticed yet Ė which is always a possibility Ė thereís a new Pokťmon game out. This means two things for me. Firstly, it means the Alt Gr key has seen a spike in usage. Secondly, and more relevantly, it means Iíve been pondering on what are some my favourite battling pocket monstrosities. Since writing a review of the new games feels rather pointless now, Iíve decided to share my list of beloved Pokťmon with you.
So hereís a top ten list, which once again has no particular order. Itís not that Iím lazy, but rather because Iím the dogs bollocks. Iím above societyís petty need to order the things it loves, man.
So, in brief, a list of Pokťmon I seriously adore.
This little fella was enough to convince me that Gamefreak were far from out of ideas. Itís probably my favourite grass type, in terms of aesthetics at least. Itís a gingerbread man with puffy, white hair. Quite frankly, if you donít find it adorable, then I question your humanity. Its design and Pokťdex entries make its personality all too clear. Itís a cheeky little bugger. It was also first Pokťmon to make use of the Prankster ability. Of course, nowadays itís outclassed in that regard, but I still remember this Pokťmon well for being a fun little gimmick.
I feel like I might be a bit of an oddity, because the third generation games were my favourite when it comes to Pokťmon that were added. Aggron hits high on the list of my favourite Pokťmon. I remember catching an Aron during my first run of Sapphire. It was at Victory Road where it finally evolved into its third stage, and I was blown away by it. Itís a big dinosaur, with steel plating all over its body. Without a doubt, itís the most beastly looking bastard from the third generation.
Whenever someone points out that Gamefreak are running out of ideas, Magneton is one of those candidates you could look to as proof that not everything in the first generation was pure inspiration. Itís literally just three Magnemites floating together. That said, I think itís rather cool. It looks robotic, without over doing it. Thereís no denying that its design is very simple, but I think it fits nicely. Itís a magnet, so itís evolution revolves around attracting other magnets around it. Pondering on that for a moment, I actually think itís clever. It almost makes me disappointed by Magnezone.
Put away your rubbish bags and ice cream cones, because Zubat is king of the hated Pokťmon. Despite that well deserved title, Zubat does come with one big redeeming quality. It evolves into this awesome, four winged bat out of hell. Firstly, its design is leagues above Golbat. Crobat actually looks like a swift flyer, rather than a large mouthed victim of overzealous dentistry. Also, knowing a tiny bit about breeding Pokťmon, I do know Crobat can get its wings on some ridiculous stuff, including Brave Bird and Nasty Plot. Seriously, donít let your hatred of its younger self fool you into overlooking this guy.
For those who believed that nothing after the first generation mattered and stopped cared, Salamence is basically like Dragonite, only better. I remember being rather disappointed when I saw that the beautiful Dragonair evolved into the Puff the magic dragon. Gamefreak did not repeat that mistake twice in Ruby and Sapphire. Salamenceís design suits the colourful, cartoon appearance of Pokťmon, with those big red wings and blue body. Despite that, it still manages to hold the air of a mighty. Add on that the fact that itís destructive and tough. Everything adds up to Salamence being the dragon Pokťmon deserved.
Itís a chinchilla, with a white scarf. Without any question, Cinccino is the among the cutest of Pokťmon. Thatís not to mention its neat party piece, with its hidden ability, Skill Link. This ability makes all those questionable multi hit attacks, like Bullet Seed and Tail Slap, always hit the maxium five times. All right, so Cloyster pulls of that strategy better, but at least thereís nothing naughty about Cinccinoís design.
A Pokťmon whoís famous for not being as good as Garchomp. Flygon still an upright guy though, boasting plenty of power. I think its design is many times better than Garchomp, who looks garish by comparison. Flygon looks like a cross between a green lizard and a dragonfly, which I suppose results in something that looks vaguely like a dragon. Flygonís Pokťdex entries also stand out more than Garchompís. The whole ďdesert spiritĒ schick make Flygon sound more mystical.
Letís just get this one out of the way; that mega evolution is absolutely kingly. Its posture is noble and dignified. Itís hair is golden and belongs in a Líorťl advert. On top of that, it also becomes a dragon type. When I first saw it, I would have meant that compliment jokingly. As time went on, I began to love the stunning beauty of its new form. Iíve always sort of liked Ampharos, but X and Y pushed it straight into the middle of my heart. Mega Ampharos is undoubtedly the most majestic Pokťmon ever conceived. Go stare at the picture until you love this†Pokťmon†as much as I do.
Iíll let you in on a little secret; I think all the first generation starter Pokťmon looked pretty stupid. Seeing them again while playing through Y just reminded me why Iím not terribly nostalgic for the days of Red and Blue. When I got the chance to put my Fennekin up against a Charmander, it really hit home for me how much itís actually improved.
ďWait,Ē you might say. ďDidnít you just express your contempt for Dragonite earlier? Then why is this Pokťmon from Lollipop Lane on the list?Ē
Well firstly, Goodraís design is consistent with the rest of his evolution line. Unlike Dragonite, I found Goodra to be an sweet upgrade in appearance. Secondly, I just think Goodra looks a sugar-dumpling cuter. Itís a big, cuddly dragon made of goo, which is really quite strange considering itís meant to be a pseudo-legendary. He also bucks the trend of the pseudo-legendary dragons, by being defensively orientated rather than offensive. While that might result in it being less popular, I think it adds a nice bit of variety to the selection of powerhouse dragons.
And there you have it. A fine and dandy list of my top ten Pokťmon. Some are cute, and some a mighty. There are many more I could list as ones I like, but I donít think Iíll regret the answers I put on this list. Iím actually surprised by how easy it was to think up most of this list off the top of my head. Most importantly, Iím glad that I was able to make a list that span almost all generations. A shame Iím not a huge fan of Diamond and Pearl though.
So, if you had to pick your favourites, what would they be?
Surrender to pointless delusions, and post in the comments! Because youíre worth it!
Hype is, without any doubt, among the scourges that I loathe the most in gaming. Whenever a game becomes the subject of ludicrous hyping, I lose all interest or desire to play it. People who fall for its honeyed words turn into frothy mouthed, walking billboards. Hype campaigns are basically paper tigers, where marketers pour their efforts into getting the audience riled up for no good reason. Unfortunately, these seem to work all too well.
For this reason, I wanted to write up some golden rules for dealing with the nasty hype monster. Thereís nothing too complicated. Itís just a few things for people to keep in mind really.
If a trailer doesnít show any significant game-play, you should probably disregard it entirely.
Very common among the AAA industry is the notion generating hype through the use of a cinematic trailer. Most of these are pretty worthless. Either theyíre just flashy CGI spectacles, or they show only the tiniest bits of play. Itís just enough to impress, but not enough to make viewers realise the gimmick is exactly that. If a trailer doesnít demonstrate anything significant about what the game is actually like, you might as well have been staring a two year oldís macaroni art instead. Itís just like fireworks, only more sinister rather than colourful. So, much worse.
A trailer showing plenty of game-play will win over the audience itís looking for. A sensible gamer wants to see the game in action. When I saw the Kickstarter video for Hyper Light Drifter, I was sold on the concept by the end. There was nothing fancy or elaborate, just a few minutes of watching the character exploring and fighting. Thatís all I needed to see though. Thatís not the say the video wasnít trying to sell itself, but it felt more honest and genuine.
Remember that developers/publishers are going to say what they think will sell the game.
That sounds obvious, but itís vital to remember. For an example, I was recently reading an piece on Rock Paper Shotgun with Mike Laidlaw, the lead designer for Dragon Age Inquisition. In short, he claimed that one of the big influences for the next Dragon Age was that classic gem of RPGs, Planescape Torment.
Now I donít want to flat out say that Laidlaw was lying. Who knows, maybe Dragon Age Inquisition really will take cues from Planescape. The issue isnít whether he was being truthful, but rather what motivated him to say it. There are obviously a lot of people out there whoíd kill for another game like Planescape Torment. A quick look at some of Kickstarterís most highly backed games is clear evidence. If those people honestly believe Bioware were capable of making such a game, they would go out and buy it in a heartbeat.
Of course, you have to look at the likely reality. Can a game with voice acting in this day and age possibly be as verbose as Planescape Torment was? Forgive me for not being a believer in Bioware, but I highly doubt it. Itís pretty obvious heís just trying to generate hype. and not much else.
To get back to the point, developers and publishers are always trying to sell their game. Even if theyíre being honest, theyíre going to try and frame things in a positive light. Everything they say needs to be taken with the understanding that they have that agenda.
Read multiple reviews, and donít ignore the more critical ones.
Thanks to the internet, we have access to a range a varying opinions on whatever game is soon to be released. Itís a shame that most people donít seem to have quite grasped this idea yet.
Weíve seen all too much what happens when a review has the audacity to suggest that whatever hyped up game theyíre writing about might not be pure perfection. These people are pretty much in one of two camps. The first is selective exposure; they only want to read reviews that confirm their opinion, and they become angry when a review they thought would agree with them doesnít. The second is what most people would call ďbuyers remorseĒ. Theyíve rushed out on day one to buy the game, or pre-ordered it, and donít like it when a review implies they may have made a bad decision.
Letís establish a few rules. Firstly, if you care about the reviews might say about a game, then read them before buying said game, not after. Secondly, if someone writes something critical about a game, they might have done so for reasons other than because theyíre absolute gobshites. Lastly, scores below ten of ten are still considered good by sane people.
Just about every extra you get by pre-ordering is shit.
Allow me to join the voices of those telling you to stop pre-ordering games. There are almost no benefits to doing it, and more often than not has become just another engine for marketing. The common practice nowadays is to offer something ďspecialĒ to those who pre-order. In most cases these range from unique cosmetics, or weapons that are more power than almost everything else in the game. Shiny skins are nice and all, but theyíre hardly worth throwing money blindly at. Special items can wind up being detrimental to your experience of a game, because they always break the balance of progression.
What if a pre-order deal offers something more substantial? If itís a piece of day one DLC you could just buy later then Iíd still suggest not going for it. After all, the fact that the publishers are happy to cut out content to sell back to people should say enough about their attitude towards the customers.
People who havenít played the game probably donít know jack.
Of course, the writhing nest of hype are places like Reddit and forums. In their giddy excitement they tend to become overeager about getting the next big thing. Theyíll talk about how itíll be the greatest game ever, and theyíll rip apart anyone who tries to imply otherwise. Itís important to remember that their attitudes about a game have likely been formed by the marketing hype. In reality, these people have not played the game themselves, so they donít actually know how good it is.
Well, thatís one rant over and done with. I get the guilty feeling that all anti-hype stuff is obvious to most people. I hope that youíll remember these points next time youíre being confronted by the next hype. Getting overexcited for a game is the easiest way to ensure disappointment. Iíve found that having more realistic expectations vastly improved my appreciation of games.
The most important thing I want to say is that immunising yourself to hype does not mean becoming a downer about everything. I donít believe that being overly cynical is any better than eating out of the hands of corporations, unless your goal is to look as hip as possible. It certainly doesnít mean you canít anticipate new games. Immunising oneself from hype is not a matter of expecting disappointment or hating everything, but learning not to get excited for no good reason. You should grow excited about games on your own terms, rather than because someone jangled a bunch of shiny keys in front of you.
In my eagerness for the next Pokemon games, I couldnít be arsed to play anything that was worth writing about. To make amends, Iíve written up another top five, which isnít really a top five, because Iíll be buggered if I have to put in the effort to actually order them.
This top five in tribute to our beloved David Cage, will be very emotional. This top five is devoted to the games that made me feel the most emotions, or rather, the particular moments in those games that made me feel deeply. They may be games, and they might not have a lot of polygons, but theyíre all evocative. Some are joyful, and others are haunting.
With that said, letís move onto the first in my line upÖ
5. The Atmosphere of Metroid Fusion
Looking back, it doesnít seem so scary. When I was twelve (or thirteen, whenever it was) however, this game redecorated my underwear. I think it was the first game where I encountered an enemy that you could not fight, but had to run from instead. When the eerily calm music suddenly exploded into a rush, it made me jump each time.
The whole atmosphere of Metroid Fusion was haunting when I first played it. The harrowing music, the set pieces that juxtaposed natural habitats with laboratories, and the sense of loneliness came together to put me a great unease. A split second of the SA-Xís glaring, dead eyes sealed the deal. That image is forever engrained into my memories. Iím not really into horror games, because Iím feckless, spineless coward, so this game is pretty much as creepy as Iíll touch.
Of course, this game wasnít nearly as horrifying as Other M. Eh! Eh!
4.Golden Sunís Ending
I arrive here once again. Sorry that I have to keep harping on about this game, but this was a seriously beautiful ending. The four heroes stand before an ancient boat thatís been risen from the bottom of a pool of water, and the reminisce about their journey. Thereís also the realisation that Isaac and Garet have reached their personal goal of getting to see the ocean. The scene plays out to the most soothing, enchanting piece of music in the entire soundtrack. The game clearly has a sequel planned at this point, so it was far from over. At the same time, it did feel like something special had come to a close.
The heroes aboard the vessel and set sail the credits music, which is an expanded version of the gameís main theme. The credits roll back on all the locations visited throughout the quest in the form of the battle backdrops. Thereís no amazing spectacle, or plot twist trickery (not until after the credits at least). Itís all rather simple and played straight, which is what I find so nice about it. The ending encapsulates everything I think Golden Sun is. Beautiful, forlorn, and adventurous.
3.Kerbal Space Program
I said in my impressions of this that it was one of the most engrossing games Iíve played for many years. This is a game which evokes a grand sense of gratification. There are no set missions, but thereís no end of goals you can make for yourself. Whether it was getting a ship into orbit, or putting a rover on the Mun and beyond, there were few moments in this game that did not feel spectacular. Watching my attempts fail over and over again made me want to push harder against gravity. Seeing a vessel almost reach orbit, only to burn up was almost heart-wrenching. Even the very act of constructing a rocket felt exhilarating.
In terms of games I keep going back to, Morrowind is the cream of the crop. Itís the champion of my heart. It was the first open world RPG that I played, and the first that opened my eyes to the possibilities that such a game could offer. The greatest pleasure of Bethesdaís games is in the exploration of the landscape. Vvardenfell delivered an alien world, full of ash wastelands, mushroom trees, and blight storms. Often, I was take long detours from my quest to take treks up and down the island.
Today, that experience is enhanced by boat load of graphical improvements (and Iím not just talking about a a few textures either). Iím not going to stand here and say that it looks as good as current generation games. No matter how much the old engine gets tarted up, it will always look aged. Itís like seeing an old banger come back with new parts and a paint job. Itís the most heart-warming thing to me.
At first, I was not sure I wanted to put this one down. I really donít endorse most ďartsyĒ games, like Dear Esther. I put them in the same column as cinematic games as something Iím just not interested in.
Proteus is a game I fell for, hook, line, and sinker. Everything about this game was awe-inspiring and beautiful. Whereas other art games go for a sombre tale, Proteus is an explosion of colour and sound. Every step you take alters the music in some way.
The gameís island paradise goes through four seasons, and each is as stunning as the last. At night, I was even frightened by some of the strange events I witnessed. At one point, the starry sky turned a violent red. I donít know what I did to make that happen, but it freaked me out. What happened following that is something Iíll never spoil, but it was the most mystical thing Iíve witnessed in a game.
Itís a game you can only really play once before the magic wears off, but I think itís well worth it. There was not a single moment that did not fill me with wonder.
There you have it; a five long list of pure emotion. I feel much better about this one because the list of potential entries was much shorter than my last top five. If the Cagey one is out there, just know that this one is for you. Naturally, I thank you, the reader, for taking a look. Once again, I want turn this around asking a simple question.
Whatíre your most emotional moments in gaming?
Surrender your senses and post a comment!
And yeah... a lot of images there.
You can also read this on my personal blog.
(Metroid Fusion images taken from http://metroid.retropixel.net/)
Iím not a terribly huge fan of first person shooters, but every so often a special exception comes along that I simply have to indulge. The new Shadow Warrior, developed by Flying Wild Hog, is one such exception, and for many good reasons (but not as many as there are Wang jokes, which is reason number one).
Shadow Warrior plays out through seventeen chapters. The majority of them consist of Lo Wang slaughtering his way through hapless demons with his wise cracking pal, Hoji. His quest is to obtain a powerful sword called the Nobitsura Kage, but it is also sought out by shadow beings and megalomaniacs. It might not be contender for video game narrative of the year, but I thought the tale of Shadow Warrior had some cool moments. Overall, itís a ludicrous, sword swinging action game.
The trail of guts spills through a beautiful range of settings. These stretch from lush Japanese gardens, to graveyards, industrial shipyards, frost-bitten mountaintops, and alternate worlds. Just for a bit of fun, there are plenty of barrels, glass cases, and cars for you to destroy. Some of these are useful for damaging enemies in battle, so you should keep an eye out for them. The other stuff is just for fun.
There is the occasional boss battle to break up the game. These pit Lo Wang in a show down against giant suits of demonic armour. Theyíre an absolute blast, but theyíre also a bit repetitive. The method of defeating them is the same for each; you shoot bit of their armour and then shot the weak points underneath them. Other major confrontations are rather disappointing. They end only with a short cut-scene where an epic battle could have been fought. One example is late in the game where I was sure an awesome swordsman duel was about to ignite, but it was over in a single cut-scene where the game did the attacking for me.
Shadow Warrior offers a small selection of weaponry for when you want to mix things up. What the game lacks in numbers, it makes up for with variation. Each weapon is unique from the others, and you get the fun of totting them all around at the same time. Weapons can be upgraded using the money Lo Wang picks up during his shenanigans. The prices vary, and weapons you obtain later on usually cost more. Most upgrades are simple increases on stats, such as fire rate and damage. The most interesting upgrades are the secondary fire mode that each weapon can use by pressing the right mouse button. These range from duel wielding PDWs, to guided rockets, and sticky bombs.
The flaw of Shadow Warriorís weaponry is that until you obtain the right upgrades they tend to be quite boring. Compared to the katana, the other weapons just donít have the same blood-pumping sensation at first. With upgrades taking time to acquire, it may mean that some weapons will fall by the wayside.
The katana is the crown jewel of Shadow Warrior. The greatest source of pleasure the game provides is in slicing through hordes of demons. When ammo is low the sword can always be counted on. Lo Wangís trusty blade is capable of using area of effect and ranged attacks. Enemies fall into bloody pieces as they get hacked apart. Itís gratuitously violent and unrealistic, but itís so awesome that just watching the mess unfold each battle is half the fun of the game. The katana is the glue that holds the gameís intense combat together.
Aside from money, Shadow Warrior offers karma which is used to buy skills. The katana attacks are the most attractive skills to unlock early, but outside them thereís a wide range of handy supplements. There are also ki crystals which buy powers. These include the vital healing and the power to suspend enemies in mid-air. The powers are activated using fighting game style button presses. This can often mean youíll fail to pull off the move when demons are swarming you.
Shadow Warrior offers a menagerie of monsters for Lo Wang to slice his way through. At first they come in simple melee and missile varieties, but the difficulty increases as new demons with special abilities Ė like shields and cloaking Ė start to appear. Battles will require different tactics depending on what kind of demons fill the horde. They certainly provide more of a gripping fight than gangs of funny talking non-Americans. Enemies have weak points which you can attack in order to put them down swiftly. While for early demons this involves trusty head shots, other enemy arenít so obvious. Some demons know to take a beating, and you can find yourself wasting a lot of ammo. This means youíll be falling back on the katana a lot.
Shadow Warrior scores you out of five for each battle. To get the higher scores you must slay the demons with a variety of combos. Getting good scores give you karma bonus which can go to purchasing new skills.
Unless you discover every secret, or get five stars from every fight, the likelihood is that you will not be able to unlock every upgrade. I actually donít mind this one bit. It makes picking upgrades feel like a real choice. I spent plenty of time in the menu genuinely asking myself whether I would get any use out of a certain power. Perfectionists however might find it irritating.
Shadow Warrior is a mostly linear game, but it does offer little detours to discover secrets. The sweetest thing of all is that beside the secrets that give money and karma there are little nods to unveil. It encourages players to search every blood-stained corner of the level in the hopes of finding something awesome.
Shadow Warrior is a bit of a rough blade though. There are a couple of frustrations to deal with. My biggest gripe is with the fall damage, which I felt was ridiculously overblown. There were times when Lo Wang would dash down a small incline and flat out die upon hitting the ground. Thatís with full health, mind you. For a game which feels old school in so many ways it does lack some vertical game-play, which would have added to the thrilling action. Instead however, I avoided jumping out of the fear Lo Wang might stumble and take damage, or worse.
Leading from this is the issue of the death pits. When itís obvious what will kill you, like chasms, thatís acceptable, but when jumping into innocent looking pools of water slaughters Lo Wang in an instant it becomes hard to forgive. With so many secrets in Shadow Warrior itís unfair to kill people for taking a peek in a place that to their eyes looked perfectly safe.
At the end of the day, these are minor niggles in Shadow Warriorís parade of carnage. Itís an action packed thrill ride from start to finish. Even though Shadow Warrior is unrefined around the edges its combat is sharp. If enjoying bloody destruction is immature, then I donít care much for growing up. If youíre interested in picking up this title you can buy it from the official website for $39.00, or from gog.com and steam for similar prices. If thereís one FPS you play this year, it should be this.