Assassin's Tomb of Uncharted Combat?
Shadow Guardian is like a melting pot of ideas all placed in a big bowl of hopefulness and stirred with a spoon of solid game engines. Unfortunately, Gameloft seemed to have hired the Swedish chef from the Muppets to serve it.
The game immediately takes on the tones of Uncharted, with Jason Call doing his best Nathan Drake impression. Soon the storyline switches to the template evil boss who has Jason wired to a machine that replays his memories. Yes, you can tick off Assassin’s Creed from that inspiration list too. Not that the story really matters here, it’s really just a bridge between set pieces.
In fact, to give the story its dues, it works well to explain the levels and the pulp feel goes well enough with the surroundings. Even the voice acting is pretty decent. But story isn’t enough unless you have a solid game underneath.
Not one to shy away from reusing their engines, the first few levels require a lot of shooting and the third person view and cover system come straight from Gameloft’s Modern Combat sequel. Not a bad thing when you consider how good that game was. But the level structure here is far more spacious with less cover and the roving camera angles don’t really help when you’re pinned down against a wave of enemy soldiers.
Pretty soon after, the action switches to climbing. It feels more like Tomb Raider than Uncharted at this stage. Unlike either of these games you get prompts every five seconds to tell you what to do and big red arrows to show you exactly where to stand. It feels a bit like playing Tomb Raider with a big walkthrough book in front of you. At no point are you asked to solve difficult puzzles on your own, which is a shame. What this does, more than anything, is prevent the player from becoming too involved in the game. At times it even feels as limiting as an on-rails shooter.
This formula carries on throughout the game; shoot, climb, fight big tank or monster, play an explosion set piece and then repeat. While it seems like a detrimental comment, the formula does work in this case. It’s all helped along by the great looking graphics, interesting set pieces and varied scenery as you play through the story.
Controls are up to Gameloft's usual standard, the virtual stick has been perfected over many of their previous games and is probably one of the best examples of how to do a virtual control on iOS, while the crouch and fire buttons feel as if they are just in the right place. There is no sign of an over complicated control system here and the game benefits from this.
But there is still the element of hand holding and the annoying camera which both prevent the player from ever becoming too attached to our hero Jason. Without these two elements the game would be far more impressive. As it stands, Shadow Guardian is a game with a lot of promise, a great deal of fun but ultimately a little shallow.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 7
- Longevity: 7
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