Jason Cole is no Nathan Drake, but after getting a look at the hero of Gameloft's upcoming action adventure game Shadow Guardian for the iPhone I get the feeling he really wants to be one.
Gameloft has made a rather lucrative business out of copying the gameplay and concepts made popular in console games and making iPhone and iPad titles out of them. Gangstar copies Grand Theft Auto. The Asphalt series is their answer to Burnout or Need for Speed, and N.O.V.A. - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance - is obviously a clone of Halo.
Of course just making a clone of an existing game doesn't guarantee success. You need to make a good clone, and Gameloft makes some pretty good clones.
During a press event held online earlier today I got a peek at Asphalt 6: Adrenalin. The latest game in the combat racing series has been polished up with a brand new game engine. It's more realistic, while a unique nitro power-up system gives the screen a rather Tron-like glow when shifting into high gear.
I also saw N.O.V.A. 2, a highly-polished sequel to Gameloft's first Halo clone, complete with new weapons, more dynamic enemies, driving sequences, and a full-realized online multiplayer system with 72 levels of experience.
But while these sequels were impressive, it was a new game that caught my eye.
Shadow Guardian is an action adventure game starring Jason Cole. According to the developers presenting the title, Cole draws inspiration from heroes like Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, and yes, Nathan Drake of Uncharted fame, though they say he's very much his own person.
I'd rather he was Nathan Drake.
The game opens with Cole being interrogated by the enemy. During the interrogation he flashes back on his adventures, much like the mechanic used in Alpha Protocol and Call of Duty: Black Ops. He's on a mission to save the world, trying to secure some powerful artifacts that would give their possessor real ultimate power. Along the way he'll travel through
Cole navigates obstacles like Nathan Drake. He fires a wide array of weapons while ducking behind cover like Nathan Drake. He solves puzzles. He uses melee takedown maneuvers. He even participates in some spectacular quicktime events.
Rather than mixing the different gameplay elements up, each of the game's levels focuses on a certain aspect of gameplay. The fifth level, Alexandria, is mainly about shooting. The Medusa Temple level has a strong focus on environmental puzzles.
The game is rather attractive for an iPhone game, running on a modified version of the engine used for Gameloft's hit Avatar game, with four times the polygons. The developers call it the most ambitious title ever created by Gameloft, and it all started as a technical demo to see how far the iPhone could be pushed.
Shadow Guardian is definitely a clone, but I don't see Naughty Dog making any moves to bring Uncharted to the iPhone. If Gameloft can come close, I'll take what I can get.