Shadowgun for iPhone and iPad: Grinding the Gears of War

By Bulent Yusuf on at

Now look, we’re not ones to judge. Shadowgun is a third-person shooter that’s blatantly, obviously a complete Gears of War rip-off. Developers Madfinger Games have been rummaging around the dustbins behind Epic HQ, and they’re using the old imitation/flattery chestnut to dance around the inevitable opprobrium.

But when a rip-off is so lovingly-made and gorgeous to look at, and it’s priced so attractively, we’re not going to complain. Heck, quite the opposite. Spending time with a console-clone of such quality makes it nigh-impossible to revert back to playing tower defence games.

Also, it’s fun with a capital “Sweet Jimminy Cricket, that explosion made my retinas pop!”


How's the Gameplay?

The drill is as follows. You play an oversized douchebag in body armour, sent into a mad scientist’s lab to collect a sizeable bounty placed on his head. Mad scientist isn’t going quietly, however, and he unleashes wave upon wave of nature-meddled nasties to stop you cold.

But here’s the thing, no matter where you stray -- warehouse, laboratory, underground corridor -- and no matter how many genetically-modified freaks try to perforate your hide, there’s always going to be a convenient chunk of scenery that provides valuable cover. Just duck behind a crate, pop those blighters from a distance, and you’re good to go.

Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?

Controls are mapped out to a virtual joystick for movement, and screen swipes to target enemies. The camera zooms in and out accordingly when you take cover, which is standard behaviour for the genre. The only thing missing is a grisly melee attack for when enemies get in too close, but that might be skirting too close to the source material...


Why Do We Like It?

Let’s tick off a couple of the highlights. Gigantic, penis-substitute guns? Check. Testosterone by the bucketload? Check. Buzzsaw guitar riffs to rattle your teeth? Oh dear lord, mos def.

Also, there’s the additional highlight of having a robotic companion with tits. Tits with nipples, no less. Why does a robot need nipples, exactly? The mind boggles.

All mockery aside, the graphics are very impressive, perhaps the best yet on the iOS platform. Brilliant stage and creature designs are scattered throughout, with dramatic lighting and sound effects to enhance the carnage.

Alas, there is a cost. Just as the story flounders under the weight of its macho cliches, the hardware struggles to cope with the demands being made of it. Every ounce of RAM is being squeezed to power the 3D engine, precipitating the occasional software crash when the action gets really frantic.

This slight niggle will hopefully be fixed in future updates, but until then you’re just going to have to grit your teeth and put up with it. Just be sure to save your progress as often as you can.

The closest thing you’ll get to Gears of War on an iDevice, Shadowgun will provide all the visceral thrills you want and then some. The quality of the presentation is absurdly high, offered at a price-point for a good six hours of playtime that’s simply staggering. Definitely recommended.

Shadowgun costs £5.49 on the iTunes App Store and is available for iPhone and iPad. [iTunes]