Shadow Warrior (PC)
Release Date: August 31st, 1997
Publisher: GT Interactive
Developer: 3D Realms
Genre: First Person Shooter
Posted: March 1st, 2006
Last Updated: August 21st, 2007
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Shadow Warrior is sort of a follow up to Duke Nukem 3D that uses the same engine but is more optimized and features some great advancements especially in the level design. A lot like Duke Nukem 3D you are a man (Lo Wang, of chinese decent) with a mission and to complete that mission you are launched into several levels all with doors you must find the keys for while constantly seeing new weapons and enemies along the way. I don't sound very enthusiastic, mostly because when looking back, this formula was getting a little stale in my opinion. With Doom-like clones popping out everywhere at the time, it was hard not to get sick of the first person shooter genre.
Without dwelling too much on my previous statements: Shadow Warrior is an awesome game and an awesome part of my growing up whilst gaming. It will always have a place in my heart. Okay, That sounded a little cheesy... oh well. Saying all that, what makes the game so great? Well in my mind it was visually stunning at the time if you are/were a fan of Duke Nukem 3D you will see all the advancements that they created with the more advanced version of the build engine. One of the advancements was the addition of voxels. I don't care what anybody says, voxels was and still is a very neat system that builds 3D objects essentially out of blocks or pixels. Interestingly enough you could turn voxels on and off in the game and it would turn all the weapons/keys/buttons from flat sprites into voxel models (to coin a term?). Unfortunately even with voxels turned on things like environments objects (trees) and enemies were still sprites, creating a very weird visual comparison while playing. I wish they would have taken the time to turn over some of the other useless decoration sprites over into the voxel system as well; however, that might just cheapen it. Either way, voxels was a pretty cool experiment in technology at the time.
The comedic attitude was also taken from Duke Nukem 3D and features some awesome jokes and sayings, unfortunately some do get a little stale as you progress. There is a lot of senseless action is this game, but there brief moments of puzzles which may get you stuck for awhile which I think is a nice element to free the game of monotony. I know i've been comparing Duke Nukem 3D a lot, but it's kind of hard not to with so many similarities, especially the level secrets you can find. When playing this game the first time I tried hours and hours on each map to find the secrets, some were hidden just too well for me. Some of the game's secrets are actually needed to progress through the level which I found interesting.
There is many odd design elements I found with this game, maybe not odd, just a little strange. For instance most of the sprites/textures in the game have a broken counter-part. Like when you shoot a computer, it shows it broken if you hit it. Nothing is wrong with that, it's just a little odd I found when comparing it to other un-detailed parts of the game. Another occurrence of this is I actually found some wires in the back of a computer. The map creator went out of his time to put a wire (cutting it out from the desk and assigning a texture to it) leading from the computer to the keyboard. Here you have this extreme detail contrasted against low detail of other aspects. I am not saying the game is all completely lacking in detail, for instance the map designers took time to simulate lighting and shadows in many places, like placing shadows of the 2D sprites behind them, which I found really neat.
All of these things make Shadow Warrior a great game, and memorable gaming experience. I am glad they (Apogee) waited to release this game and move it over to the new engine, instead of releasing it in its beta form. I think the worst part of this game is actually the weapons, not the weapons themselves, but how you get them. You get every single weapon very early on in the game, and you don't see anything new for the remainder of the game. They should have been more spread out I think.
I now play this game using JonoF's OpenGL Port. I will include this little information about the port specifically: Generally speaking, it is a great way to experience Shadow Warrior on a modern computer, technically speaking there is still quite a few bugs that need to be worked out. One of the most annoying things about the port at this time is the constant crashing, usually which seems to be linked with the Coolie enemies. You can read all about the port on my OpenGL Port page, as well as some other add-ons for the port.