Developer: Gameloft
Price: $6.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Game Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Shadow Guardian is a great looking game. No doubt about it, this is one of the best looking titles from the already pretty Gameloft lineup. While it may not come that close to the Unreal Tech displayed elsewhere, Shadow Guardian is an achievement in its own right. Unfortunately for this game, looks aren’t everything. Mechanics and control keep this title from retaining its entertainment value throughout.

The visually striking environments are well done and varied. Console gamers may find a lot of similarities between the look and feel of this game and many third person adventure titles released for the PSOne. Although the spaces are awkward to explore, looking around the massive tombs and arid deserts is amazing on the iPhone or iPod Touch.

Toss all of that out the window once combat comes into play. The combat from cover is, honestly, pretty good. Ducking behind objects is snappy and the targeting system is simple and approachable (simply tap a button to lock on to enemies). But once players have to move and shoot the game becomes nearly unplayable. I had to drop the difficulty a bit during several of the later encounters in order to have any chance of surviving. The blame for those moments falls squarely on the awkward nature of moving and shooting on a small and, at times, unresponsive space.

The same can be said for quick movement. If you try to get through spaces on foot quickly, you’re going to run into trouble. The camera often drifts to all the wrong places and you’ll be hard pressed to get it just right whenever you need it. Between that and the basic combat, this title can be extremely frustrating.

However, there are some major points for praise outside of the game’s graphical appeal. The platforming and climbing mechanics, although very easy, are great. As climbing sections start, you’ll often find yourself excited and wanting more. The pitfalls and breaks are incredibly predictable, but the paths are just challenging enough to be fun.

Finally, the story and voice acting are both pure cheese. I can’t tell if this was an execution of kitsch or camp here, but the plot and dialogue will leave you chuckling. If these subtle jokes were done in the spirit of irony, then Gameloft needs to be applauded. If for nothing else, the story is amusing.

Great graphics, strong platforming mechanics and a mostly flawed (though sometimes smooth) combat system make Shadow Guardian a tough game to rate. For $6.99, iOS gamers will be able to take home a lot of value and a relatively rewarding experience. Don’t go in expecting perfection and this game can be great.

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