Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
It's very easy to forget just what power is within the iPhone. I know I do so far too frequently. I'm content with a huge wealth of the App store but I don't expect it to push my expectations hugely. I stay hidden in my bubble of useful apps and casual games. I'm not even hugely fussed if it doesn't as I've got my trusty PSP and DS anyway. When a game that's better than the latest SOCOM for the PSP comes along for the iPhone and it's only $7 though, I start wondering if I should reassess my opinions. I realise that's all very short sighted of me and I'm sorry. Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard has shown me the light and I'll be using it as an example to many, many cynical friends.
The graphical finesse is what's going to get you first of all. It made me desperately wish I had an iPad so I could see just how tremendous Shadow Vanguard would look. On a small screen though, it still looks fantastic. The sound quality is similarly great with production values feeling very high.
An extensive tutorial gradually eases you into the control system and it's a great help. The controls are a little fiddly to get to grips with at first, mostly because there's so much going on and only so much screen space to use up. If you stick with conventional controls, a virtual d-pad presents itself to the left while the fire button, weapon change buttons and other vital bits and pieces reside to the right. Moving the screen around with your right finger affects aim while your left finger is in charge of the d-pad. The problem lies in that I found myself frequently accidentally hitting the fire button. Switching to gyroscope controls help hugely here as it eradicates the problem entirely. It might take a few minutes for you to get the sensitivity just right but it's well worth the effort.
That brief negative aside (and something I've no doubt isn't an issue with an iPad), the quality of the missions will keep you unfazed by any mild technical issues. There are 11 single player missions all increasingly complex and more tactical, each based on the original Rainbow Six game which is a lovely touch. In the first mission on Recruit - the easiest difficulty level - you might be able to get by with run and gun tactics, but by the end of the stage you're going to have to think things through a lot more carefully thanks to a precarious hostage situation. It's just what you could want from Rainbow Six. You can control your teammates by sending them on ahead, banging and clearing doorways with flashbangs, and using the snake cam to plan a route ahead. It's all typical Rainbow Six and it's all great to see. The only thing that's lacking here is that you can't send your team through one door while you target another door, you have to be near enough to tap the offending door yourself. It's a relatively minor niggle though.
On the harshest of difficulty levels, Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard really demonstrates just how tactical it is, feeling like the most complete tactical shooter I've ever played on a handheld device.
Besides the comprehensive single player campaign, there's the multiplayer functionality too which puts some console games to shame. There's 4 player co-op. I adore co-op games. Playing any title with friends is instantly more fun and it's very much the case with Shadow Vanguard. Being able to play either over local wi-fi, online or bluetooth is a great collection of options. It's a similar tale with online deathmatch offering the same choices without a hint of lag. There's five maps to choose from with Deathmatch and up to 10 players can compete together, forming a frantic yet sometimes tactical affair. In the matches I played, it clearly depends on who you play against as to whether people played a stealthy game or just went all out run and gun. It was still fun regardless though.
Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard is just all round great if you hadn't already guessed. If you're only in it for multiplayer, you might feel a little restricted with only 5 maps and 5 guns to choose from, but the single player campaign more than makes up for this. I was truly impressed by the quality that's gone into it. My only request is for GameCenter achievements, otherwise it's a pretty ideal tactical shooting experience.