This isn't helped by the story, which is paper thin. Luckily, in a moment of self awareness, the game has made all of the story excerpts optional, so if the story wears thin on you, as it did me, you can skip it entirely and just brawl.
This is great because when you are throwing down, it's a lot of fun. The melee combat feels super tight and the movement is pretty slick, meaning you can easily fight a crowd with your katana all at once. If that doesn't pan out for you, you can get ninja stars, claws and even a chainsaw. Melee special moves are easy to pull off, requiring you to be moving in a direction when you press the right trigger.
It feels like a lot of the combat is designed around the melee, with the other guns designed to be switched to in an emergency and sprayed at enemies from close range. Many of them do something different; the nailgun fills enemies with long stakes, reminiscent of F.E.A.R's legendary Penetrator, while the sawn-off shotgun will blow off an enemy's arms from close range.
Because most of the enemies you'll fight in the game are demons or robots, they tend to shed body parts as you fight them, sloughing off flesh under your assault. Sometimes this'll happen to a human too, and you'll be left listening to their screams of pain as they fight on.
You'll be moving a lot too, double-jumping and dashing across objects to try and keep in the perfect position for blasting away at the enemies. The guns you'll use are often shotguns, automatic weapons or explosives, which means you rarely have to aim; you'll just bounce around in circles, strafing the biggest threats while pounding them with flaming Uzis, a toxic grenade launcher or a frost shotgun.
If it sounds silly, it really, really is. But it's okay; you'll want to persevere and you'll get to grips with it pretty quickly.
When you add a few extra players, it gets more chaotic, but it actually doesn't work so well. It seems stable enough — playing with our lad Rick I got kicked out once in a couple of hours because of a ping spike — but the real issue is with the difficulty. The difficulty is adjusted for how many players are in the game, and it does this not by adjusting the amount of enemies you're fighting but by making the existing enemies tankier and able to soak up more punishment. This is the least fun way to scale up difficulty because it feels like you're having very little effect on the enemies around you, trying to beat down a demon but instead merely swatting at his leg with a katana.
However, it still feels like a skill-based shooter, even when every time you hit an enemy they bleed numbers. In my mind, this is the game Borderlands should have been, and as a shooter with RPG elements, it's the best in class. Better yet, you can choose to largely ignore those RPG elements like I did after the first few missions, and still have a good time jumping around like a ninja.
There's a lot of good work here, and the core part of the game - the part where you cut demons into pieces with blades and bullets - is strong. It just needs a few patches to refine the rest of the experience. It's a testament to how good the combat is, in fact, that despite most of the rest of the game having flawed elements, I still really enjoyed Shadow Warrior 2. The act of shooting people was so much fun that I could barely put the game down. FPS fans, this Recommended is for you.