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Shadow Warrior

Good 3-D Action, Crummy Jokes

By Cameron Crotty

Even for talented artists, sequels are never easy. For every Godfather: Part II, there is a swarm of second-generation imitators that pale in comparison to the original. Shadow Warrior certainly isn't terrible, but although it delivers the basic ingredients necessary for a 3-D shoot-'em-up, the final mix is less than inspiring.

Strictly speaking, Shadow Warrior isn't really a sequel. Although the game uses the same first-person engine that powers Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition (see ""Great Games: 1998 Game Hall of Fame"," January 1998), Shadow Warrior's designers have built a universe that feels like a mix of Mortal Kombat and Indiana Jones. As Lo Wang, you battle heavily armed ninjas, gore-throwing ghosts, and fire-breathing guardians . . . yawn. Truth be told, the waves of nasties feel a lot more like pop-up targets than menacing, otherworldly creatures. They're not visually interesting, they're dumb as posts, and–beyond minor differences in armament–there's not much to distinguish one piece of cannon fodder from another.

Lo Wang begins his journey equipped with a katana (sword) and shuriken (ninja throwing stars) but rapidly acquires more deadly armament, ranging from the ever-present Uzi submachine gun up through grenade and rocket launchers. (Thoughtful players may note the irony of possessing the world's deadliest ninja warrior skills and still choosing to drop enemies at 20 yards with a shotgun.) Shadow Warrior's wit emerges when you're allowed to pick up severed heads and hearts of dead monsters and use them as magical weapons; a more liberal use of this type of creativity could have resulted in a much more interesting game.

Duke Nukem fans fell in love with the deadpan running commentary that Duke volleyed even as all hell broke loose. True, Lo Wang delivers his share of quips, but where Duke's dry repartee provided a welcome Eastwood-esque spice, Wang's is a fountain of adolescent toilet jokes and ancient double entendres delivered in a fake Asian accent. Almost all the humor in Shadow Warrior is racist, sexist, or tasteless, but it's also so banal that it's nearly impossible to be offended. As with most action games, parents should think twice before handing Shadow Warrior over to a young child, but any teenager who's seen an R-rated movie or watched Beavis and Butthead has probably seen and heard worse.

Macworld's Buying Advice

Shadow Warrior isn't a bad game, but that's the best compliment I can pay it. If you're a die-hard fan of first-person shooters, you'll find Shadow Warrior a moderately entertaining addition to your collection. Otherwise, though, you should pass. Like so many sequels, Shadow Warrior can't match the magic of the original.

RATING: 30 mice PROS: Moderately entertaining; interesting premise. CONS: Uninspired foes and weaponry; trite (and frequently racist) humor. COMPANY: MacSoft (612/577-0631, LIST PRICE: $49.99.

March 1998 page: 62

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