iPad Game Review: Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard HD Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard HD is a tactical first person shooter that includes an 11-mission campaign, as well as a robust multiplayer component. If you're looking for a run and gun experience, keep looking because to succeed here you will need stealth, tactics, and the right tool for the job.
The Rainbow Six franchise has been around for a long time and Gameloft has done a great job of bringing this world to our favorite handheld device. The core gameplay involves successfully completing 11 missions in the campaign. This may not sound like a lot but these missions are not skimpy, nor are they repetitive. To achieve your goal, you are given two computer controlled teammates, a recon specialist and a demolition specialist; both of which will take tactical direction from you, and fulfill vital roles. Ignore them at your peril because blasting your way through this game like some Kevlar-clad Leery Jenkins will get you dead fast. Lastly, successfully completing missions will result in you unlocking additional equipment, which is a nice touch.
The most difficult thing about porting first-person shooters to a touch interface is designing a control scheme that doesn?t suck. Thankfully, Gameloft has some experience here and has done a great job of adapting their interface to a tactical shooter. Better yet, if you have an iPad 2, be prepared for full gyroscope support; something that has compelled me to play the game on a swiveling office chair while grinning continuously like an idiot. Yes, it will take some getting used to, but once you?ve got the hang of it, you?ll be rolling around the room with reckless abandon as you peek around corners and run for cover. Sweet.
In addition to a generous campaign, Rainbow Six offers a robust multiplayer component that allows you to not only play in the ubiquitous team deathmatch mode, but also cooperatively through the single-player campaign. Let me just say that again: co-op multiplayer. It works flawlessly, although it is marred by the inability to communicate electronically with your teammates; at least via the game itself. This isn?t a problem for the Bluetooth and WiFi modes because you?re likely to be in the same room, but if you want to play an online game, you?re going to spend a lot of time staring stupidly at each other before running off in opposite directions unless you happen to have their phone number, a headset, and a killer long-distance calling plan.
The graphics in Rainbow Six are very good, but not great; and by not great I mean they are not optimized for iPad 2. This isn?t a dealbreaker, however, because it runs very fast and smooth, which is far more important than a few extra textures. I did get an unmistakable feeling of d?j? vu while playing it, though, because it?s the same engine that Gameloft uses in their other titles.
The sound effects are up to par with other Gameloft titles, as is the soundtrack. Neither are particularly memorable, but both get the job done without being overly repetitive, annoying, or loud. Don?t take this as a criticism, though. I actually appreciate that they are not trying to get my attention by blowing my headphones or my eardrums. The voice acting is first-rate, however; which is very important in a game like this.
Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard HD is a first-rate, first class, first person shooter. The campaign is the star of the show here. It is generous, varied, and balanced for co-op play. If you have a second iPad available, give the WiFi or Bluetooth cooperative mode a try. Steer clear of the online play, though. The inability to communicate with your teammates is an exercise in frustration, and a bit like herding chickens using nothing but a blank stare.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - It may be Gameloft?s usual FPS engine, but it?s a good one. Sound: - 4 - Decent sound effects and music. Very good voice-acting. Controls: - 5 - If you?ve got an iPad with a gyroscope, you?re going to be in FPS heaven. Gameplay: - 4 - A fantastic single-player and local multiplayer experience. Online play is frustrating without a means of communication.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Take the time to play through the tutorial. Don?t rush in. Most missions have multiple ways to win, but all will require the proper use of your teammates and resources. If you feel like things aren?t going well, keep going. There?s a great deal of satisfaction to be had from pulling victory out of the jaws of defeat through sheer cleverness and resourcefulness.