Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard HD is Gameloft’s latest entry into the first person shooter genre of games, releasing this HD upgrade to the iPhone version released back in March. It is definitely one of the better first person shooters I’ve played on a mobile device, with great graphics and sound, and a boat load of content.
Now, I’m already biased towards this review because I despise FPS games on a touch screen. When you have to sacrifice movement or aiming in order to fire while your thumbs cover chunks of the screen, I have a problem. So with that being said, I actually really enjoyed this app! It tries to remember the roots of Rainbow Six, making the game more about squad based tactics and cover, punishing you for running and gunning, which is hard to do on a touch screen anyway. The game play really works when you take full advantage of squad commands and act like an armchair general. Also, I didn’t play the iPhone version, but I imagine having tons of extra space for all the buttons helps the controls be as smooth as possible. I rarely hit the wrong button here.
The campaign is split into 11 missions. As you play, you’ll gain experience and progress through the ranks, unlocking new equipment at each rank. Things like extra grenades or extended mags, or my favorite, the red dot sight. You can change out your equipment and restock on ammo at the random ammo crates that are somehow in each level. Each mission has primary and optional secondary objectives to complete for more experience. You command a squad with two other members. You can send them into different cover spots and have them breach rooms with flash bangs, among other useful skills. You can use your snake cam to mark targets for them before they breach a room, making things even more efficient. Once you reach the fourth level though, you can mark targets in real time, without use of the snake cam, and then you start to feel powerful.
Unfortunately, the cover system is kind of annoying. You can’t take cover just anywhere, which sucks when it feels like you should be able to. To send your squad to cover, you have to be looking directly at the spot, and you had better make sure to send them into cover. Otherwise, they’ll just stand behind you and die like idiots. The AI of your squad is definitely lacking whenever you’re NOT giving them commands. Unless you’re getting headshots all over the place, there is no real downside to letting your squad fight your battles. You get three XP whenever they randomly kill a dude, and five when they get a tag kill, which is the same amount you get for a normal kill. Also, you can revive them endlessly with your magic syringe containing Wolverine’s power of regeneration, while you die pretty easily yourself. A headshot is worth 10 XP though. Pro Tip: Use the standard rifle, silenced, and with the red dot sight. The aim assist in the game makes it extremely easy to get headshots this way, and with your silencer, you can clear half a level if you’re careful.
To top it off, the game includes online multiplayer as well. You can play campaign missions cooperatively with friends, or you can play competitive multiplayer against strangers. There are five maps to choose from as well as Free For All Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. The matches I played were actually a lot of fun. Once you get used to fighting real people, it becomes a blast. Aiming down the sights of your gun is extremely helpful here, and I recommend you avoid the actual cover mechanics and just hide behind things normally. You can set up or join an endless match with no score limit or time limit, which is a great way to get a lot of practice and get used to the controls without much stress.
All in all, this game is great. It has mostly great graphics, with a few exceptionally bad character models and textures. The music, sound design, and even voice acting are all top notch. Eavesdropping on dopey terrorist henchmen can be a lot of fun. The game offers a lot of content and replayability, and the campaign is long for a mobile game. I loved it despite all its flaws. This is a $7 app. Strangely enough, it’s the same exact price as the iPhone version, which hasn’t gone down. Why they didn’t just release an iOS universal version, I’ll never know. This review is far too long as it is. If you’re a fan of mobile shooters or Rainbow Six games, go check this out.
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