Shadow Guardian, a new action-adventure title from Gameloft, is now available from the app store. Featuring lengthy gameplay and cover-based combat mechanics, Shadow Guardian strives to match Gameloft’s most popular shooters but must settle for average… which isn’t all that bad.
Shadow Guardian Pros:
- Beautiful graphics
- Decent audio and familiar control scheme
- Never at a loss for what to do next
- Large levels and varied environments
- Gameloft Live! integration for global leaderboards and achievements
Shadow Guardian Cons:
- No sensitivity options
- Doesn’t allow you to figure anything out for yourself
- Too much time spent climbing
Taking the role of Jason Call, you must trek into the far reaches of the world, battling the elements and outpacing dangerous enemies, as you attempt to reach the relic known as Prima Materia before it falls into the wrong hands and threatens our freedom. Unfortunately, you seem to be suffering from some type of Jason Bourne identity crisis, with info trapped in your head that the bad guys are going to coax out at all costs. The story itself actually takes place as flashbacks, where you play out your memories while cut scenes show you strapped to some strange device in the enemy’s lair. The storyline is a bit strange, as your first mission ends when the daughter of the man holding you hostage kills the enemies surrounding you. You then return to the lair for some more exposition, then back to battle as you play out more of your memories. It’s an interesting mechanic that we haven’t seen in a Gameloft game before.
There seems to be a lot of assistance offered by the game, from the plethora of red arrows indicating where to go to the spoken cues indicating where to climb to the flashing jump button when the move is appropriate to the auto-aiming of your weapons. We played through on the weaker of the two difficulty levels, so it’s possible that some of this is less prevalent in the higher difficulty mode, but it’s more likely that the enemies simply require more gunfire to eliminate. There is no health meter, as your well-being is treated similarly to other Gameloft shooters, where the screen gets redder as you become more injured. Your health recovers while you avoid gunfire. It’s not that the game isn’t fun or exciting, but it’s just not as compelling as other titles we’ve played recently. The lack of mouth movements during voiceover cut scenes is a bit disconcerting, and we never really connect with the main character. The AI doesn’t seem too bright, as we ripped off headshot after headshot of enemies who simply crouched and waited with their backs turned. They didn’t come after Jason when he ran away and they didn’t seem to coordinate their attacks to take him out. In all, the experience was a bit underwhelming, especially given our high hopes.
Graphically, the game looks as good, if not better than, any other TPS on the market. The environments show not only the typical variety (snow, desert, temple, etc.), but great detail and colors that pop. The lighting and shading effects add to the atmosphere nicely and it seems that you will be climbing all over the place and viewing your world from breathtaking vantage points. The music is standard fare, giving a movie-like feel to the gameplay. The voice acting is on par with that of other Gameloft offerings. The controls are a little clumsy and the sensitivity could use some toning down, as we seem to swing around wildly when simply trying to run or target enemies. A movement pad in the lower left is responsible for these actions, while swiping around the screen can further adjust the camera’s viewpoint. Context-sensitive buttons appear for picking up items, taking cover, aiming, shooting, and any other actions you’ll require. Your current weapon is in the upper right corner, along with a remaining ammo indicator. Tapping the weapon reloads it and swiping across the icon switches to another weapon.
Replay value is ok, as you can go back and pick up trophies that you might have missed the first time around. Gameloft Live! integration allows for leaderboards and achievements, too. Otherwise, there aren’t a lot of compelling reasons to play through again. Level length is decent, taking around 15 minutes to complete each. At $6.99, Shadow Guardian rings it at Gameloft’s typical release price. We feel comfortable rating the game as a solid 4-Dimple adventure.
Shadow Guardian Review,