Games for the weekend: ShadowGun

Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome enough to keep you busy until Monday, at least.

At $7.99, ShadowGun is one of the pricier titles I’ve recommended. But it’s well worth the price of admission for graphics alone. Games like ShadowGun and Infinity Blade really show off the iPad’s(s aapl) capabilities as a mobile gaming platform. Strike that. Once iOS 5 is released and you can mirror your iPad 2 through an Apple TV, ShadowGun and games like it will be cutting edge, sit-comfortably-on-the-couch gaming.

In the game, you take on the role of John Slade, a bounty hunter set to punch the nefarious Dr. Simon’s ticket — I wonder if that’s a Firefly reference? While the graphics are great, the story isn’t. I didn’t care. It’s a game in which you run around and blow things up, and it does that well.

It’s very similar to Gears of War, since it’s an over-the-shoulder shooter, and cover is important. This isn’t a game where you stand there, machine guns a-blazing as hot, spent cartridges bounce off the floor. You’ll be doing a lot of taking cover behind obstacles clearly placed there for that purpose while shooting in small bursts.

You’re on rails, too. It’s pretty much impossible to get lost, but I’m surprisingly okay with that. The cover system is enjoyable enough that I don’t miss having free rein.

As with cover locations, there are many checkpoints to save your game. This keeps you from going through locations a second time to a minimum. The game seems to save your current spot when you quit the app. I did have a few crashes when I launched the game, but rebooting my iPad solved that.

I did find that I needed to adjust the controls slightly. My right thumb kept hitting the shoot button, but it’s easy to move it via the settings. The settings icon is a large plus sign and at first I thought it was a way to apply a health pack.

While ShadowGun is a universal app, I found it hard to play on the small screen of my iPhone. Also, your saved games don’t carry across the two apps. I’m really hoping developers are able to use iCloud to sync saved games in a future update.

Eight bucks is a curious price point. It’s expensive compared to most apps, and the similar (at least visually) Infinity Blade is two dollars less. I feel like I got my money’s worth, though. My last Wendy’s meal cost me nine bucks, and ShadowGun provided a lot more enjoyment. I also think the game needs multiplayer, and that addition might have made it an easier sell for the price.