While everyone else has been playing Elden Ring and Horizon Forbidden West, I’ve been shooting up or vivisecting enemies in Shadow Warrior 3 — and having a pretty good time. It’s a zeitgeisty first-person shooter that’s fast-paced, gory, and filled with different ways to dismantle your enemies. At the same time, Shadow Warrior 3 is unremarkable, providing me with a solid four-and-a-half hours of entertainment.
In that way, Shadow Warrior 3 is kind of perfect. Not unlike a syndicated sitcom, Shadow Warrior 3 starts without a misstep, stays interesting throughout, and never slows down. There wasn’t a lull, a midgame slog, or anything other issue because the game isn’t that complicated. You run, gun, and listen to Lo Wang spout off ever-grating ’90s references. It’s pretty great.
Let me add some context to this weird line of praise I’ve got going on. I’m writing this on February 18, smack-dab in the middle of the busiest month for games so far in 2022. Sifu and OlliOlli World have both come out and blown me away. Horizon Forbidden West is getting heaps of praise for its evolution on the original game’s formula and beautiful graphics. The monster that is Elden Ring has a stranglehold on the entire industry.
Suffice it to say, things are pretty busy. Most of the games I mentioned try to revolutionize their respective genres in some way, or are marked by their inventive gameplay mechanics. They’re all something new, and while that’s exciting, it’s also pretty exhausting. They demand more attention, a weightier critique. New ideas are being introduced, and they have to be placed somewhere in the ever-growing game mechanic pantheon.
That’s why Shadow Warrior 3 is so perfect, especially right now. It’s about as straightforward as you can get with a first-person shooter. The game starts at a blistering pace, throwing players at demons invading the earth. You can chop them in half with your sword or blast them apart with one of the six guns you get. And bless the game, because it doesn’t let you explore anywhere or do anything besides shoot enemies. That linearity is a great reprieve from the open-world objective fests that so many AAA games are.
Even when Shadow Warrior 3 tries to do something new, it doesn’t really change the game all that much, and that’s wonderful. You can perform executions on enemies that rip weapons straight out of their bodies, which you can then turn on the demonic hordes. But they’re still weapons! Melee or otherwise, it’s just another flavor of what’s already in the game. There’s no planning required here, just holding W and Mouse 1 as I plow through enemies.
Best of all is that I didn’t have to apply any critical thinking to Shadow Warrior 3. There’s virtually no decision-making but a whole lot of killing enemies, watching pretty colors go off on the screen, and having uncomplicated fun. Shadow Warrior 3 is simply a good game, but it accomplishes every task a video game should do quickly and without effort. Really, what more could anyone want?
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