Shadow Guardian HD
Gameloft pays homage to Naughty Dog's Uncharted franchise with this enjoyable treasure hunting adventure.
Sony will never release an Uncharted game on the iPhone, but Gameloft has the next best thing in the form of Shadow Guardian, a third person adventure that's a direct copy of Naughty Dog's award winning franchise, complete with a hero that bears a startling resemblance to Nathan Drake. That said, it's a worthwhile pick-up for anyone who enjoys hunting for treasure and shooting bad guys.
Shadow Guardian casts you as Jason Call, a death defying thrill seeker in search of something called the Prima Materia. To reach it, he'll crisscross the globe, visiting Egyptian ruins, the jungle and even Antarctica, much to the chagrin of some mercenaries who'd like nothing more than to put a bullet into his head.
Now unfortunately, the story fails to thrill, in part because Jason's quite dry and borderline corny. The same can be said of other characters in the game, no thanks to cheesy dialogue.
Thankfully, the game in-game action makes up for the lackluster narrative. There's a wonderful mix of firefights and good old-fashioned platforming. Jason can take cover behind objects, kill enemies using blind fire or pop out from behind cover and take them down with headshots. Later, he'll even battle a helicopter.
As for the platform stuff, expect to scale mountains, shimmy up chains and ascend a humongous statue while completing simple puzzles. To be fair, Gameloft holds your hand the entire way with markers designating the exact spot Jason needs to reach, but that doesn't necessarily kill the experience, especially for players who don't have time on the go to figure out what to do next.
Meanwhile, the game looks incredible, especially the HD iPad version, which costs a few bucks more that the iPhone edition. Ruins, hieroglyphics, statues and enemies all sport excellent detail, while the action runs super smooth. We're also huge fans of the lighting, particularly when the sunlight pours into dark places. Great stuff.
Is Shadow Guardian perfect? Not even close. Enemies are fairly predictable and a bit passive in their attacks, while the constant hand holding is a bit of turnoff. Gameloft also missed a big opportunity to add a multiplayer mode, now a fixture in the Uncharted series. That makes coughing up $9.99 on iPad, and $6.99 for iPhone, hard to swallow.
The save system also needed some work. We're so used to saving anywhere that it was a bit of a shock to discover that the game forced us to restart levels instead of automatically saving our progress after quitting the App.
At the same time, there's no denying Shadow Guardian's appeal. While not an Uncharted killer, Gameloft once again delivered an MVP performance for App Store buyers, with a title that will no doubt receive at least one sequel. Check it out.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod Tough (3rd generation), iPod Touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.
Requirements (HD version): Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.
What's Hot: Enjoyable combat, fun platforming, impressive graphics, easy to learn controls, figuring out how to grab hidden treasure.
What's Not: Lackluster story, no multiplayer, too much hand holding, average save system.