Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard Review

By on March 23, 2011

Gameloft’s shooter is a solid tactical experience on the iPhone.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

There is possibly only one mobile games company that aims to deliver console game experiences on the iPhone and that is Gameloft. The company is on a looping belt of criticism for developing games that are inspired from numerous console counterparts, but the company’s penchant for quality games quite effectively drowns out the noise. Known better for its excellent FPS titles on the iPhone, such as the gorgeous looking Halo-inspired N.O.V.A series, Gameloft has yet again come up with a great FPS title in the form of Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard, bringing for the first time, a tactical shooter experience on Apple’s device.

Like most past Rainbow Six games, the story here is thin, often laughable and always passable. You are a leader of an elite counter-terrorism task force, and along with two of your buddies, are tasked on an 11-mission ride to eradicate terrorist bases by snaking through environments, blowing stuff up and collecting some token headshots on the way.

Shadow Vanguard plays like any other Rainbow Six – this wouldn’t be saying much if it weren’t on the iPhone. The implementation of the tactical aspect of the game is nailed in perfectly, however basic. Being the leader, you can command up to two team mates. You can order them to take cover, stack up besides entry points, tag enemies through the snake cam for them to eliminate, and when the mood calls, go a little loud with flash bangs and grenades to clear out a room. The team AI is pretty decent through – at least you are not continually required to order them into cover. However, they do come across the line of fire more often than normal and quickly becomes an annoyance in heated situations.

The game controls like most shooters from Gameloft. You can move from a left on-screen joystick, while swiping right or left will move the camera. The game provides auto-aim, though you can use sights by clicking on the icon on the bottom right, if you choose so too. You can also stick to cover, which will present you with a third person view of the character, much like the retail games. The only trouble I had with the controls is that while moving the camera around, I would accidentally press the trigger icon, causing needless spraying. The trigger icon is placed just where the camera control should be and you would have to constantly remind yourself to place the finger above it. Alternatively, you can use gyroscope to aim and move, though playing with it in public places looking like as if you are being electrocuted while you are busy taking headshots is not the kind of fun I would…prefer. It does work well, although there is a bit of a learning curve if you have never used gyroscope before.

The single-player campaign is pretty extensive, taking you through varied environments such as an African village, an offshore oil rig, and up to a sprawling mansion of a drug lord.  Each level is peppered with multiple objective and bonus achievements. Achieving each of them will fetch you points that can be pooled into new weapons and equipments.

Beyond the single player, there is the customary yet well implemented multiplayer campaign. You have two modes: co-op and deathmatch, both playable over WiFi, Online or Bluetooth. The co-op mode features the singleplayer campaign and is great fun with friends. Playing online is smooth, though expect players leaving randomly during the campaign, eventually causing the game to end.

Deathmatch, however, is the mode I found myself playing more. It’s the standard kill-each-other fest over 5v5. Just like the single player mode, you can gain experience and pool in the points to unlock weapons and equipments. Unfortunately, points and unlocks gained in the single player mode does not get carried over to the multiplayer, which would had been a great incentive for many of us to through the entire campaign. Lag was rarely an issue, so most matches played sufficient smooth. I was also able to join matches pretty quickly. One issue, however, remained an annoyance is that most game hosts would disable auto-aim assist off. This makes the game a pain to play and if you aren’t that experienced swiping iPhone 4’s glass, you will be pwned to sunrise.

Overall though, Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard is a lot of fun to play. It’s not really all that much different from Gameloft’s own N.O.V.A but the tactical elements do bring on a fresh experience on the iPhone. The game is priced at $6.99 and is a great value for money with a lengthy single player campaign and well implemented multiplayer module.

The Scorecard
The trigger button is an annoyance, but other than that, the game offers a lot of variety and depth and plays out really well.
Stunningly beautiful on iPhone Retina display. Some of the locales look drop dead gorgeous.
Good sound effects, the soundtrack and voice acting are forgettable.
Lengthy story campaign and a robust multiplayer module offers great number of hours of play. Perfectly worthy of $6.99.
As close to getting the Rainbow Six-kinda fun on a mobile device.
Gameloft brings yet another great FPS title to the App Store. If you are looking for something new away from the N.O.V.A series, this is a great contender for your collection.


Mufaddal Fakhruddin is the Editor for IGN ME and thinks writing in third person about himself in an about me section is weird.

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