It Was The Most Tedious Debate Of last year. Bloody Duke versus bleeding Quake. "Duke rocks!" one side thundered, followed by a resounding "Quake sucks."
Then the other half came back: "No, Duke sucks," they said. "Quake rocks!" Never have so many talked such utter crap for so long about so little. The fact was that both games rocked and both games sucked. Nukem had all the ideas, the character, the humour, and the real world locales, except it was shackled by a good but somewhat 'primary school' engine. Quake was both brown and repetitive, but it sported the best 3D front end on the planet - and in deathmatch, it was head, shoulders, torso and genitals above anything then or since.
In a monumental turnaround, 30 Realms recently licensed the Quake technology for Duke Nukem Forever, the next game in the series. But before they go down that texture-mapped pathway, they have managed to squeeze out Shadow Warrior which, what with its shagging bunnies, Lara Croft-a-like, forklift truck driving and healthy range of quips and 'humor', has to count as one of the most entertaining and playable demos to have featured on last month's cover shiny silver UFO. If you played the demo, you probably thought, "Hmmmm, this is like, Duke in a kimono," or perhaps something equally witty. There isn't much more to explain, other than that the registered version will naturally contain the obligatory a) extra weapons, b) extra episodes, c) extra set pieces, and d) extra bad guys.
"By the time it's done, you're probably going to have the same, if not more, interactivity than Duke. There's going to be a lot to play with," promises George Broussard of 3D Realms. The idea with Shadow Warrior was obviously to build on their vast success with Nukem. "It's hard to follow up Duke, but I think we'll get pretty close." Indeed, I believe they will.
Weapons-wise, the full version sports three spanking new weapons. First is the rail gun, a most impressive magnetic piece of hardware which spits chunks of metal at near light speed, penetrating (in the non-legal, death-causing kind of way) enemies. After that is the highly cool Guardian Head, which is only obtainable when you dispatch a certain monster in a certain way. You stick your fingers in the back of its decapitated skull in bowling ball fashion, and each twitch of your digits initiates a different attack: circling fireballs, flame stream and exploding napalm. The final, ultimate weapon though, is the Ripper Heart, extractable only from a live Ripper which is an unfriendly ape-like creation. Squeezing the freshly culled heart will have a strange and devastating attack on your foes. No, really.
On the monster front, the registered version comes with six or seven new 'baddies'. Swelling the ranks of the ninja army are the Orange ninjas which shoot heat-seeking rockets, and the Gray Ninjas who lob accurate and annoying grenades in your direction. You also get a smattering of baby Rippers (faster and hungrier than their parents) and ten-foot tall Guardians, who will either fire fireballs out of their eyes or slice you into croutons with their swords. There's a bit of Skeleton Priest action too, as well as the Chick Warrior, a feral female armed with crossbow and explosive-tipped bolts. Yikes.
One of the end bosses is a huge farting Sumo wrestler. "They let these green noxious clouds out and then do these massive handclaps, disorientating you," says Broussard. He is, we will concede, rather amusant (the Sumo, not Broussard - although George is, of course, a 'funny guy'... Er, okay? Good.).
Capture the flag? Yus!
There are going to be between "24 and 28" maps in the final game, plus several deathmatch-only maps. "We are doing capture the flag and it's the best CTF I've seen. We'll probably do three or four of those levels and some extra vehicle maps.
We'll have tanks you can fight in." One level we had a look at had the hapless Lo Wing stuck on a boat as it took an automated path around the level soaked with grenadethrowing bad guys. If you manage to survive that onslaught, a whirlpool appears and sucks not only the boat, but also you and any bad guys who happen to be nearby down with it. "You can be sucked up in it, spun around, and damaged. It's a good example of all the neat effects in it we just couldn't fit into the shareware."
All in all, if the demo's anything to go by, Shadow Warrior should end up on a par with Nukem. And if nothing else, give thanks to the good lord Jesus that 3D Realms have snaffled up the Quake engine. They should do some great stuff with it, and hey! - maybe it will finally and forever lay to rest Duke sucks, Quake rocks, Duke rocks, Quake sucks. (Quake rocks! - Ed). Duke sucks.
I Yup. Ludicrous British censorship laws strike again. Several years ago, following a smattering of lurid (and suspect) tabloid scare stories about young children mimicking on-screen martial arts madness, the British Board of Classification caved in to the demands of the Hysterical Exaggeration brigade and decided to ban anym scene in which certain oriental weapons including shurikens (evil little star-shaped discs) appear, regardless of the age restriction certificate granted to the movie in question. So, like duurrr, it's simply ooh-la-la if Arnold Schwarzenegger whips out a pair of penile assault rifles and blasts 10,000 bad guys in the legs, arms, face and lungs - but if he then decides to pick spinach from his teeth with a throwing star, the scene will be cut. Of course, this censorship is entirely justifiable: anyone who remembers the dark days before the BBFC's wise ruling will applaud their actions. It was awful - chaos ruled the streets. Shurikens embedding themselves in your face all day long, hundred-strong mobs of thugs wielding a nunchaka (a nasty weapon made of two pieces of wood joined by a chain) beating men, women and children insensible on the pavement, entire shopping precincts flooded thigh-deep with the blood of the fallen; a swelling tide of terrifying violence that seemed to spell the end of civilised society as we know it. Get down on your knees and thank God for the BBFC's timely intervention.
So the shurikens in Shadow Warrior have been replaced with darts. This is because it's Okay To Get Hit In The Face With A Dart. Darts don't cause any damage. Especially when they puncture your eyes and make gooey eye-juice drip down your shirt. Apparently. Anyway, the on-screen text finishes with a peculiar piece of forelock-tugging: "We apologise for the inconvenience and hope you enjoy the game." The inconvenience? Yeah, whatever. Apology accepted. We think.
Ha ha! Look at the carnage
Shadow Warrior's a Doom-style slaughter em 'up starring a character named Lo Wang, who is essentially Duke Nukem with a sword, some darts, and a vastly expanded pool of catch phrases. There are many different flavours of carnage within the game, and whenever the blood starts a-flowing, you can rely on Lo to provide wisecracks. Cleft an enemy in twain with your Samurai sword and Lo cackles, "Oh look, he is coming apart!" Blow a bad guy into a shower of red glop with a heat-seeking missile and he chortles about how "stupid" the unfortunate henchman now looks. Occasionally, the wholesale slaughter is simply too amusing for Lo to so much as comment upon, so he dumps the airy prose completely and merely laughs out loud. The introspective soul-searching type he is not: ten quid says he doesn't own any Radiohead albums, and if he does, he only bought them for throwing at people.
Presumably, Mr L Wang finds this unremitting butchery hilarious because the sheer amount of gore that permeates his world has utterly desensitised him to the horror of violence. As is de rigueur for this kind of thing, there's more claret sloshing around than you'll find at a haemophiliac knife-thrower's convention. Aside from the aforementioned twain-i clefting and chunk-shattering, there's plenty of grisly slapstick on offer, including gushing neck arteries and ricocheting eyeballs, each replete with a squishy sound effect that sounds a bit like someone pulling a Wellington boot out of some thick mud. S'nice. Your gran'll love it.
360 degrees of mutilation
Well, it's 'concluding paragraph' time again, so let's sneak a glance at the ol' PC Opinion-o-meter. All you have to do is cast your eyes over the panel below to see where Shadow Warrior stands...
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode