Shadowgun in Review – An FPS For Players Like Me

I’ve been playing electronic games for a long time, but it’s really taken me until my iPod Touch to appreciate what the first / third person shooter genre had to offer.  Up until now my favorites have been Dead Space (TMA Review) and Modern Combat: Sandstorm (TMA Review), but now I’m adding Shadowgun to that list (I just haven’t figured out where yet).  There’s enough depth to keep the game interesting, and at the same time it’s simple enough that people like me who aren’t very good at FPS games can still enjoy it.  Don’t get me wrong – even on the easy setting I still repeat my share of sections before getting them right.  It’s just that it’s not all that bad having to do so.

You play a Shadowgun (mercenary) named John Slade, and your mission is to hunt down the evil Dr. Simon and stop his army of mutant nightmares.  Thankfully you’ll have the assistance of some nifty weaponry as well as your talented android S.A.R.A.  Unfortunately, everything else is pretty much against you.  There are ten action packed levels filled with mutants, machines, traps and more all with the intent of killing you on sight.  The villains aren’t all dimwits, either.  They’ll hide behind walls and barricades to avoid your bullets.  Some creatures are so quick they’ll evade your targeting and force you to come out of hiding, opening you up to other shooters.  The big guns are just ruthless in their onslaught of bullets.  And these are just the basics…

Thankfully you can use the environment to your advantage as well, often making battles look like one of those amusing firefights from 80’s cop shows where it’s “hide, shoot, repeat” until someone gets lucky.  The thing is, if you’re a good shot (which I’m not), the targeting is precise enough that you can use the slightest sliver of an exposed arm or head to your advantage, even from a distance.  The stronger a weapon is the less ammunition you have, but learning to swap weapons and use them to your advantage in the middle of a firefight will pay off big.  In addition to combat there are often switches that need to be thrown, panels that need to be hacked via a “remember the sequence” type interface, and various other things to do that while superficial, at least give you more than just shooting to add to your resume.

To control Slade you have a virtual joystick in the lower left corner for movement.  The right side of the screen acts as both aim and fire.  Dragging your finger around the screen will allow Slade to look, while pressing a button fires the current weapon.  It works well for the most part, but it does make aiming and firing at the same time a bit challenging.  The worse problem, however, is that you might inadvertently fire at the wrong time if you’re not careful where you’re dragging.  This is both bad for your limited ammo and a wakeup call to otherwise oblivious bad guys.  There’s a button for reloading, or you can let Slade automatically do that when the current clip runs out.  To switch guns you tap the icon in the upper right corner and then pick from the drop down menu.

Despite enjoying the game as a whole, there’s no question that probably both the highlight and one of the most immediate draws to this game is the visuals.  There have been a few games that have really impressed in terms of graphics, but I would say that Shadowgun is the best in terms of 3D, “console quality” imagery.  Nothing ever feels “flat”, and thanks to the relatively tight quarters in most places you never have to worry about draw-in as you’re scanning the surroundings.  It’s actually kind of fun surveying the terrain and looking at all the details, as long as nothing is rushing you.  The creatures themselves look pretty slick and sometimes intimidating, and even John Slade is fairly sharp.  Everything is well animated, and while there are some clipping issues (apparently an issue that no 3D engine has been able to resolve), they aren’t nearly as prevalent as many other 3D games.

Sound effects are pretty much what you’d expect from an FPS.  What did impress me was the voice acting.  It’s actually quite good, and really helps the story come alive as the various characters talk to each other.  On the other side of the spectrum, I was a bit disappointed with the music.  Music mainly plays when you’re engaging the enemy, and then it’s just sort of repetitive background noise that does do a good job of pumping up the adrenaline, but isn’t very interesting.

Personally I have found Shadowgun to be an immensely enjoyable experience.  However, it feels like they might have simplified the control scheme and battle situations a bit to cater to a wider audience, which in reality might actually alienate some of the veteran First Person / Third Person Shooter gamers that are looking for a more in-depth experience.  Granted I’ve only played the easy level, so maybe the other difficulty settings make up some of that ground.  Any way you look at it I can only speak from my experience, and that experience says this is one of the best in the genre to grace the iOS platform.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: SHADOWGUNDeveloper: MADFINGER Games, a.s.
Reviewed Ver:1.0.2Min OS Req:4.2
Price:$7.99App Size: 219 MB
  • Simple but engaging game play
  • Controls are fairly intuitive
  • Visuals are superb
  • Voice acting spot on
  • Universal app
  • Aiming / firing can be tricky
  • Might be too basic for veteran gamers

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