Mage War Erupts on the Streets of Your Town in Shadow CitiesS

The magic that disappeared from our world centuries ago is back. It's all around us, but we can't see it. The only way to bring this magic into focus — the only way to fight for this power — is through Shadow Cities for the iPhone.

Shadow Cities allows players around the country to join the struggle between the ancient Animators and techo-magical Architects, two rival academies vying for control of this resurrected power. It's an alternate reality game on a massively multiplayer scale, dividing communities and bringing them together on familiar battlefields.

After downloading the free app, players are asked to choose a side, and then the battle begins. Shadow Cities determines where the player is located and places them on a shadowy map of their surrounding area. A series of quests guides them through the basics of playing. Swirling elemental spirits appear on the map, and the player must capture them to gain power.

To capture a spirit the player must tap one to target it, pull down a spell casting overlay, and trace a shape to begin their attack. If the attack is successful the spirit is damaged; if not, the player may take a hit instead.

More complex elements are added to the game as the player's level increases. They'll learn to cast power-harvesting Dominators, the key to collecting energy for their faction. They'll learn to warp to surrounding areas, meeting local friends and aiding them in conquering their neighborhoods. They'll even be able to visit new areas by physically travelling there. For instance, my doctor's office is currently host to one of my power collectors. I'll have to drive by there later and collect the energy from it, if no enemies have destroyed it yet.

It seems rather complicated, but it's really a simple game. Were it not for the travel and social aspects of Shadow Cities it would be a rather boring experience. But those aspects are in play, and they add an addictive twist to the proceedings. I'm pulling the app up every spare moment. My team is currently dominating the area, but you never know when the tide might turn.

The Architects and Animators' struggle is an ongoing one. Each week sees a new campaign; and new chance to rally the troops and win the town for your faction. Battles will be won, but the war will never truly be over.

My only problem with Shadow Cities lies in my location. The area around my office is a place where people use their iPhones to survive, not play games, so it's rather lonely in my immediate vicinity. My friends are just a quick warp spell away, lurking on the edges of the regional map, waiting for me to drive by and collect the power I've gathered from their beacons and take out any enemies that might be sneaking about. Still, it's the first iPhone game that's made me want to move.

Mage War Erupts on the Streets of Your Town in Shadow Cities

Shadow Cities [iTunes]