Since NVIDIA burst onto the mobile scene early this year with its Tegra II dual-core processor, we’ve seen Android take a big leap in terms of graphics and overall gameplay. Few games illustrate those advancements as well as Madfinger Game’s Shadowgun. ($ 4.99 USD, optimized for Tegra II devices.)

Shadowgun is an action adventure game set in a world where mercenaries act on behalf of governments or corporations – whoever has the biggest wallet. Players take on the role of John Slade, a bounty hunter searching for a rogue scientist. But what starts out as a quick search mission turns out to be wave-after-wave enemies that have to be put down and questions that need to be answered.

As the title says, Shadowgun is very much an attempt to be the mobile Gears of War. I’m not sure how much the company enjoys those comparisons, but the style of play is too similar to not pick-up on the similarities. The game takes a 3rd-person view and encourages interaction with the environment to provide shelter during a shootout. Players have to manage their movements to get cover and time to reload, then find the right shooting angles to take out machines and bio-freaks by taking minimal damage.

The on-screen controls are obviously not as easy to master or as useful as one would get with a controller, but they are functional enough to serve their purpose. Shadowgun shoots, reloads, interacts with elements, and changes camera views on the right side of the screen. Touching the left side of the screen will move Slade to a different position, including crouching behind barriers. It would have been nicer to have more complex controls for faster running or sliding into protected areas, but users can at least customize the layout and change aim sensitivity.

Shadowgun’s production values rank among the most impressive you’ve seen in a mobile game. Everything from graphics and lighting to voice acting go far beyond the scope of what you typically see, so there’s a great deal of appreciation for the explosions, gun fights, and cut scenes. A Tegra II device is required to experience all of those features, but it’s still pretty amazing to see that level of detail on a phone or tablet. The end of level bosses are challenging, there are three difficulty settings, and there’s an advertised six hours of gameplay in the story-driven mode, though it’s more than likely to last longer unless you can master every level on the first go-round (the game returns to checkpoints upon player death).

Perhaps the best feature of Shadowgun – multiplayer gaming – hasn’t even been seen yet. MadFinger promises that it is “working hard on multiplayer” at an unknown date, so we may be even more impressed with this game in the future.

« »