Shadow Fight 2 review: The freemium model is the only flaw in this otherwise great fighting game

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.3
  • Installation and Setup: 9.0
  • Features and Support: 6.0
  • Interface: 9.0
  • Performance: 10.0
Reviewed:

The Good Shadow Fight 2 has silky-smooth animations, several game modes, and RPG elements that let you upgrade your weapons, armor, and fighting style.

The Bad The freemium model slows down gameplay, and you can buy some items only with real money. You can't sync between iOS devices.

The Bottom Line Even with its tiresome freemium model, Shadow Fight 2 is one of the best fighting games available.

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Shadow Fight 2 brings the popular browser-based Facebook fighting game to iOS, with impressive animations and a mix of action and RPG gameplay that's perfect for the touch screen. That's the good news. The bad news is that the game exemplifies how not to do a freemium model. Asking you to wait short periods before advancing is one thing, but forcing you to use real money to purchase items really gets in the way of fun.

That said, I'd still recommend Shadow Fight 2 for the right person. If you have the patience, the cash, and the desire to dive deep into a well-designed game, it is worth the trouble.

Just like genre classics Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, Shadow Fight 2 follows the old standard of the 2D fighting genre, challenging you to win the best of three matches against computer-controlled opponents. But with this game you also get RPG elements that let you upgrade your weapons and armor, add new fighting skills to your arsenal, and even learn spells you can cast in battle.

Silhouette style, simple controls

Rather than using intricate and colorful character designs and costumes, Shadow Fight 2 uses silhouette-style characters with beautiful backdrops. If that seems like a cop-out, it isn't: what Shadow Fight 2 lacks in character art, it easily makes up for with realistic, physics-based fighting animations. The animations are so smooth that it almost seems real as you battle foe after foe.

The control system in Shadow Fight 2 gives you a directional stick on the left with buttons for punching and kicking on the right. But it's the combinations of directions and types of attack that give you different moves. It's important to learn the moves, particularly for when you play more difficult opponents. Though you can get away with button mashing early on, it's your technique and strategy that will help you win against bosses.

Upgradeable weapons, armor, and fighting styles

As you fight your way through matches, you'll earn gold that can be used to upgrade your fighter. Shadow Fight 2 boasts hundreds of weapon types, and each type changes the fighting style of your character. If you're wielding a sword, for example, you'll have a slower fighting style and moves that make sense with a sword, whereas with two daggers, your attacks are much more quick and precise.

To get a weapon, you can bring your earned coins to the in-game shop between fights and pick from several different weapon types. Once you own a weapon, you also can use gold to upgrade its stats for more power in the arena. The same is true for armors and helmets, with several different tiers for quality and upgrade paths that give you better defensive stats.

With every fight you earn experience, and when your character levels up, you'll also be able to enhance your fighting style with both passive and active perks. For example, you might select the Desperate passive perk, which gives you +30 percent damage when your health is lower than 10 percent. You can also get an active perk, such as the Double Sweep, which lets you sweep the feet of your opponents to knock them down. Each decision you make on the perk skill tree changes your fighting style, so it's important to learn what works and what doesn't.

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Where to Buy

Shadow Fight 2 (iOS)

Part Number: id696565994
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Category Games
  • Compatibility iOS