So far, 2018 has been a pretty great year for mobile gaming. And, depending on how you look at things, you could say it's been the best year for shooters since the App Store first popped into existence. A lot of the plaudits for that have to go to one place - Shadowgun Legends.
It might not be the most original game in the world, but it took an idea, made it work in the palm of your hand, and then ran with it. It's a gorgeous-looking, slick-playing blast that's still thriving even now. So we thought it was high time to have another look at Madfinger's glorious sci-fi experience, and explain why it worked so well.
It feels alive
One thing that Shadowgun manages to do, in spite of the inherent problems with small-screen gaming, is create a bustling universe for you to wander through. It's not just in the levels either, the hub that stands at the core of the game, while it might not be massive, is ever-changing, and full of other players.
That first time you walk into the hub and see your statue towering over everything in the middle of the square is breathtaking, and you're always checking to see whether your character's visage is on any of the billboards.
This isn't just a case of window-dressing either. It makes your in-game successes tangible things. There you are, glowering out at all the other players. You want to push on, you want to climb the leaderboards, you want to show that you deserve your place among the many shining stars in the firmament of the game.
It's so slick
There's no denying that Shadowgun Legends gets it balance between skill and mechanics just right. This is the sort of game that most players are going to stand some chance of progressing through, while giving the opportunity for more committed players to really work their way to the pinnacle of the experience.
But it's not just the shooting, it's everything that the game does. It feels like every design choice made has been honed to a glittering edge. From the menus to the guns you can buy, the bar to the multiplayer lobbies, the whole experience is a shining example of how to do midcore mobile game design just right.
Then there's the fun
All of this wouldn't matter one iota if the game wasn't a rollicking slice of brilliant action. Luckily though, that's exactly what it is. The bite-sized single player levels are taut and gorgeous, and the multiplayer is, without a doubt, some of the finest that we've seen on the App Store in years.
You always feel like a superhero, whether you're taking down other players or shooting the faces off of alien invaders. Sometimes you'll lose, but that just pushes you on to get better, to get stronger, to never have to feel that shame ever again.
Throw on top of that the updates the game has received since it came out, the tweaks to the play and the background mechanics, and it's obvious that Madfinger knows exactly what its players want. Don't be surprised it we're still writing about this one half way through 2019.