| Shadowgun: DeadZone
The original Shadowgun was arguably one of the first games to really illustrate how quickly mobile phones have closed the gap on traditional consoles when it comes to graphics.
The game was nothing short of beautiful, despite its rather bland premise and generic shaven-headed space marine protagonist.
While Shadowgun offered a resolutely single-player experience, developer Madfinger Games is aiming to service online players with this update. Shadowgun: DeadZone occupies the same fictional universe as its predecessor, but this time around you'll be engaging in intense multiplayer firefights rather than moving through a story.
DeadZone consists of two modes at present. Deathmatch should surely need no introduction, and Zone Control is a variant on the classic Capture the Flag setup.
During these two modes you can boost your rank and earn cash to spend on upgrading your weapon. All players start with the same basic rifle, and can customise it to create one of several different armament types.
Zone of the Enders
Because it's free to play, DeadZone has to squeeze in-app purchases into the game somehow, and predictably it's a mechanism to allow you to obtain in-game cash faster than normal. It's perfectly possible to slug away at online matches to earn your dough, but it naturally takes longer and will result in a fair degree of frustration as you're torn to pieces by players with superior firepower.
That's not the only element of DeadZone that grates. While connecting to a game is relatively easy, once you're thrown into the action you can expect a near-fatal amount of lag and random drop-outs. Players jerk around the map, often vanishing and then magically reappearing in a different location. This makes accurate shooting incredibly difficult, which leads to even more annoyance.
DeadZone has the feel of a product that's half-finished - and that's largely because it is. The developer has only just brought the game out of beta, and readily admits on public forums that it's still working on improving aspects of the release.
It therefore feels a little mean to pick DeadZone apart at this early stage in its life, but the fact remains that the experience it currently offers is sadly lacking. There's a fantastic online shooter here - it just needs some more spit and polish.
Work needs to go into eradicating lag, adding more game modes, and generally bolstering the content of the game. At this stage, it seems as if Madfinger has spent a lot of time making it look as stunning as possible (which is most certainly does) and has decided to fill in the other elements later on.
As the months roll by and player feedback is taken into account, DeadZone will improve - but at the moment it's best approached with caution.