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Shadow Guardian Review

By Andrew Nesvadba, on December 17, 2010


Shadow Guardian
  • Publisher: Gameloft
  • Genre: Action
  • Released: 16 Dec, 2010
  • Size: 533.9 MB
  • Price: $5.99
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • Beautiful international locations.
  • Relatively decent cover-system controls.
  • Extremely interesting boss battles and action sequences.

CONS

  • Minor incentives for exploration.
  • Poor story writing and dialogue; some scenes missing altogether.
  • Too many 'hold your hand' moments; game practically solves puzzles for you.

VERDICT

Shadow Guardian is a pale reflection of its inspiration, but there are still enough unique and genuinely interesting action moments to keep things afloat despite the poor characterizations and story development.


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There's an adage that goes along the lines of 'show, don't tell' and while it's applied more often to films, it's still quite relevant to video games. Gameloft clearly had this in mind when developing Shadow Guardian, but with so many points of exposition or at least explanation left up in the air, players are left with no choice but to roll with the punches.

Initially players are placed in the roll of Jason Call, our so-deemed hero for the story, in a series of flashbacks to explain why he's currently chained up on a hybrid alien-steampunk device and being interrogated by General Generico "Sit there while I explain my plan" McEvil (note: not his actual name). When you're not subjected to these time jumps you'll be placed in to various beautiful locations around the world and forced to shoot bad-guys who have the common sense to bring ladders with them while you climb over and destroy priceless archeological artifacts to 'see what that button does' (note 2: Call is probably a graduate of the Lara Croft school of archeology... with honors).

Most fights are based around the cover-system which is fairly easy to pick up and use, though it's easy to get your fingers messed up as you switch from one hand to look around to the other in order to fire your weapon while aiming. It doesn't take long to get accustomed to the setup, but when some boss fights make cover irrelevant you'll be wishing there was a better way to switch between moving and shooting. Climbing is all but automated, with giant jutting blocks poking out of walls that require little more than a tap here and a waggle there to complete and after only a couple chapters you'll come to dread the necessity to climb yet another platform.

What's most frustrating about Shadow Guardian is just how close it comes to being genuinely interesting and exciting, with firefights and boss fights picking up the pace perfectly and the beautifully designed environments tempting you to explore them. However the story jumps at times with little to no explanation of what's going on; character motivations; and far too often you'll question Call's sanity as he buzzes away to himself for no reason at all. Shadow Guardian takes an existing formula and drains it of almost all the charm and cohesion that turned it in to such a great title. While there's plenty left in the tank to make this a worthwhile purchase, there's no rush to dive in to this one straight away.

Screenshots

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Comments

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FalloutNewVegas 3 years, 4 months ago

Looks like Uncharted with aliens...

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talugo 3 years, 4 months ago

My first problem us how easy all the under twenty internet trolls will dub this an Uncharted/Gears of War/Tomb Raider rip off which is something that needs to stop. Make it look exactly like Lara and I would still want to play. The visuals are just stunning for the iPhone but it seems like Gameloft can only get so much right.
I have to agree with you, and I'm very glad you spoke about the cover system in your review. There is nothing worst for me than when a game schools you in one mode of play to succeed the whole time only to force you to play differently another time. Some see that as a variety of gameplay or a test of skills, but I liken it to having a first person shooter level in a bowling game.
I am a sucker for crisp looking games so I know I will pick this up eventually, but thanks for the review so I hang on to my money and sanity for just a little while longer. Is it a long game?

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andrew 3 years, 4 months ago

I didn't manage to clock in my final time, but it took a couple lengthy sessions to complete - even without searching for all the treasure (though I got what I could reasonably see and get). The only thing I could fault in the graphics would be the terrible design idea of every climbable surface requiring jutting bricks, but other than that the graphics were definitely one of the highlights :)