SHADOWGUN ($7.99) by MADFINGER Games, a.s. is like having Gears of War on your iPhone and iPad.
It’s the year 2350, and the law is overrun by corrupted intergalactic corporations. These corporations hire bounty hunters for missions, and the best of these bounty hunters are simply known as “Shadowguns.” You play the role of John Slade, who is the galaxy’s most infamous bounty hunter. An important mission is assigned to you, where you must find Dr. Edgar Simon, who is an evil genius and leads his own mutant army, and defeat him. Along the way, you’ll have to fight through cyborgs, battle droids, and mutated humanoids through tactical duck-and-cover third person shooting.
The first thing you’ll notice about Shadowgun is how gorgeous it looks. The graphics are made with the Unity engine, so these are some high-standard visuals we’re talking about, especially on an iOS device. Think of the graphics you see on your Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles, and that’s what you’re getting with Shadowgun. Despite the great graphics, there has to be more than that to make a good game.
Shadowgun offers three difficulty levels: easy, normal, and hard. The controls are pretty simple. On the left is your digital joystick for moving around, and on the right you have the buttons to shoot and reload your weapon. Swiping on the screen will allow you to look around at your surroundings. Getting behind walls will have John automatically crouch behind cover, so your chances of taking damage are lessened. To get out from behind the wall, you just have to move the joystick back. Overall, I found the controls to be pretty smooth and non-problematic.
As you progress through the game, you’ll come across more weapons for your arsenal, which you can switch through with the button at the top right. This also displays your current ammo levels as well, so make sure to keep an eye on this at all times! In the left hand corner, there is a button to bring up the in-game menu, pausing your game. The menu has options to quit, restart (from your last checkpoint), help, setup options, and resume.
During your playthrough, the game will automatically save your progress at certain checkpoints, so if you die, you will restart from the last checkpoint. While this is a good way to save your progress, several of the locations of the checkpoints could use some work.
You will also find parts of the environment that you need to interact with, such as switches and control panels – these will display a digital overlay that you simply tap on to activate.
I found the AI of the enemies to be pretty decent, as they will also use the environment to their advantage and even work together, adding some challenge to the overall game. This isn’t a game where you can simply just rush in and shoot everything – use the environment strategically!
While most of the enemies will simply appear on the screen as you enter a new room and then find some cover, then pop out and shoot at you and hide again, there are some more interesting enemies later on in the game. Some enemies won’t even take cover at all, but they will follow a certain path on the screen, regardless of where you are. Boss battles will await you at the end of each level, adding a different combat style and even some puzzle elements throughout.
For the most part, the gameplay in Shadowgun is somewhat repetitive – go in a room, find some enemies, take cover and shoot, activate a switch, go into a new room, and repeat the process. The variety of guns are also pretty similar to each other, with none of them really standing out from each other. With this in mind, Shadowgun doesn’t rip off Gears of War completely.
There is Game Center integration for achievements, so that should appease any achievement hunter. Shadowgun also features hidden extras throughout the levels, as well as a “single level” play feature (beat a level to unlock it).
Graphics in Shadowgun are certainly beautiful, but gameplay is just a tad repetitive. The developers claim to have over six hours of gameplay (and your decisions can alter the ending), but for the most part, it’s the same throughout. Also, if you have the game on both your iPad and iPhone, there is no way to sync your checkpoints across devices – you’ll have to play through levels at least twice this way. It would be nice if the developers could come up with a way to sync your progress between multiple devices.
Another problem I have is the fact that there is currently no multiplayer mode. For an $8 game that is similar to Gears of War, it’s kind of disappointing that there isn’t multiplayer yet, especially when Gears does. I hope this is coming in a future update.
For the most part, this game is great with the visuals and controls, but the gameplay just feels repetitive, except for some exceptions.
However, if you’re an action game fan (especially of the take-cover-and-shoot genre) or like games similar to Gears of War, then you may be pleased with Shadowgun. If not, then this game is not necessarily a “must-have,” at least, until a kind of multiplayer mode comes along.