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A third-person shooter reminiscent of console smash Gears of War, Shadowgun places players in the role of John Slade, a bounty hunter tasked with tracking down evil genius (and all around bad dude) Dr. Edgar Simon. To do so, Slade is forced to fight his way through an army of cyborgs, mutants and the automated defenses of Dr. Simon’s headquarters complex, using nothing more than his wits, a whole lot of guns, and the assistance of S.A.R.A., Slade’s computerized companion. While we can’t give Shadowgun’s plot any points for originality, the title’s gameplay and gorgeous Unity 3-powered graphics more than make up for the story’s derivative nature.
Players direct Slade’s actions with a split touch-based control scheme, with the left side of the screen controlling the character’s movement, while the right side picks up the fire control, reloading, and aiming duties. After a brief tutorial, gamers are thrust into their first firefight. One, after all, does not simply walk into Dr. Simon’s fortress unchallenged.
While many of the shooters available through the App Store rely on conveniently placed health packs, force fields, or other technological tomfoolery to keep their protagonists alive, Slade’s survival is dependent upon Shadowgun’s well implemented cover system. Steer Slade into something that looks like it can stop a bullet and chances are he’ll duck behind it. Aim your weapon and shoot, and Slade pops up from cover as long as you keep your finger on the fire button. With that kind of simplicity, surviving a battle becomes a matter of patience, timing, and a whole lot of ammunition. As with all good shooters, Shadowgun’s difficulty ramps up the deeper into the game players progress -- but never so much so that the odds feel impossible to overcome.
As much as I loved Shadowgun, it wasn’t without its faults. While it preformed perfectly on an iPhone 4S, it crashed a number of times while running on our iPad 2; an issue that will no doubt be resolved by future updates. Additionally, the gameplay -- while action-packed -- became repetitive after an hour’s worth of play time, with many of the game’s antagonists utilizing the same tactics and animations. But for an iOS game that looks and feels as good as Shadowgun, these are minor complaints.
The bottom line. Looking and playing like a AAA title should, Shadowgun is well worth your attention and your money.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.2 or later
Great graphics and slick gameplay make for a stellar experience. Well-implemented cover system and increasing difficulty keep things interesting.
Encountered occasional crashes on iPad 2 during testing. Begins to feel a bit repetitive after an hour or so of gameplay.