It looks dated and doesn't sound great either. It's also a turn-based strategy game, so it's about as fashionable as wearing clogs and lederhosen. Despite all that, Shadow Wars is a damn fine game.
To fans of Julian Gollop, the game's producer, that won't be a surprise. Since the 1980s, he has been crafting first-rate tactical combat games such as the X-COM series and Shadow Wars sees him continue in the same vein.
The story is pure Tom Clancy though: a Cold War nostalgia trip where heroic Americans battle dastardly Russians. Russian nationalists are plotting to grab power in Moscow and it's down to the Ghosts, a US covert ops team, to stop them.
Shadow Wars has you leading the Ghosts through encounters with enemy forces on various battlefields, from canyon-ridden plains to secret military compounds. To achieve the objectives of each mission you need to make the most of the six-person squad's different abilities and weapons.
Terrain is also important, both as a source of cover and a means to gain an advantage over the enemy: shooting enemies from high ground is more effective for example.
As the campaign progresses, more and more layers of depth are added, such as taking control of command posts to call in air strikes. But while the complexity grows, it is introduced at a pace that avoids the steep learning curve often associated with turn-based strategy games. Like Advance Wars it is a strategy game that doesn't overwhelm its players.
On the downside, Shadow Wars makes little use of the 3DS's abilities. The 3D adds almost nothing and the two-player mode ignores the 3DS's excellent connectivity features entirely. Instead players have to pass a single 3DS back and forth.