Shadowgun: DeadZone Hands-On Preview

When it launched last year on iOS, Shadowgun impressed us with its Gears of War-style cover shooting system and high-end Unity Engine graphics. However, we were left a little disappointed by the lackluster AI, plus the fact that it’s a single-player only game. Madfinger has sought to remedy this with Shadowgun: DeadZone, an online, multiplayer version of the game that feels like the second half of Shadowgun’s original ambition.

While there’s no storyline in Shadowgun: DeadZone, the graphics and gameplay remain intact, while adding competitive multiplayer. There are only two gameplay modes for you to choose from: Deathmatch, which is a free-for-all, and Zone Control, where you have to take over checkpoints with your team. We hope more modes are in the works, because other strong multiplayer shooters like NOVA 3, Trigger Fist, and the upcoming Modern Combat 4 all have more gameplay options.

Shadowgun: DeadZone is currently available on Android, where it launched as an Nvidia Tegra exclusive, but it’ll be heading to the iOS App Store next week and supports cross-platform play. This means that there’s already an active online community, so you should have no trouble finding opponents (especially if DeadZone is a free download at launch). We were able to jump into a game instantly and find it full of opponents waiting to riddle us with bullet holes.

The controls are the same as the original Shadowgun, with conveniently-placed buttons to roll, reload, and run in addition to moving and shooting. You can duck behind some of the cover, and you’ll soon learn which perfectly-squared barriers you’re able to hide behind. With other players thrown into the mix, you’ll be able to sneak around hunkered-down opponents, adding a bit of strategy to what is otherwise a frantic shooter.

The more you play the game online, the more currency you’ll earn to unlock new weapons and equipment. There aren’t any unlockable aesthetic changes– all the game’s skins and hats are available from the start– but it’ll cost big bucks to unlock powerful weapons like machine guns, shotguns, and even a rocket launcher called the “B52 Sh*tstorm” (spelled just like that).

Shadowgun: DeadZone is one of the sharpest-looking shooters we’ve seen, but it’ll lack a lot of the features of Gameloft’s upcoming Modern Combat 4, which we’re sure many gamers are interested in for both the multiplayer and single-player modes. DeadZone will have the advantage of an Android player-base, a download price of free, and a promising new brand on its side, but we’d still like to see more modes and levels to make the game worth replaying endlessly in the pursuit of more gear.

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