Fight Terrorism From Anywhere With Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard on iPhone

Here’s one that’s been on the backburner for a little while. Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six franchise has finally come to iPhone, courtesy of the folks over at Gameloft. Released mid-March, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard made its debut with gusto as the $6.99 game shot up the iPhone’s top grossing apps list, peaking at #6 a day after its release. Around the same time, it was also noted at #27 on the paid iPhone app charts.

Traditionally a PC and console title, only a handful of mobile or handheld iterations have been made for the intellectual property. A “tactical” first-person shooter, Gameloft does a decent job of translating the title onto iOS with a fairly forgiving ingress into play for those new to the franchise. That said, long running fans of the series will likely have qualms with the general clumsiness that stems from its mobile, touch controls and low amount of screen real estate.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Rainbow Six series, players take on the role of an anti-terrorist group dubbed “Rainbow.” Unlike other first-person shooters of the time (1998 marked the first Rainbow Six release), the game was not, and is still not, a “run-and-gun” shooter. Giving commands to non-player teammates, users must use tactical leadership, stealth, precision, and cover to cautiously complete varying objectives.

In terms of Shadow Vanguard, this still holds true as players sneak about in 11 different missions — a few of which are recreations, such as the “Embassy Hostage Crisis,” from the original game — to stop the machinations of various terrorist organizations. To paint a picture, players take damage in a Gears of War or Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare fashion, meaning that as they get shot, their screen will splatter with blood and should too much “appear,” they die, healing only when damage ceases. As is traditional with most Rainbow Six titles, the amount of damage players can take is significantly less than other FPS titles.

In order to mitigate this, players are given a number of tools to be more tactical in their approach to each mission. The first is that players must make use of two NPC teammates; one a hacker and one a demolitions expert. Each can be given contextual commands based on what is present in the environment. For example, the demolitions expert (assuming he’s alive), can blow up certain objects (such as anti-aircraft weaponry for a secondary objective) or disarm bombs. Both, however, can be told to take specific positions behind cover, breach doors, or use flash bangs that disorient those it hits for a short time.

Sadly, the commands are not wholly sophisticated. One of the frustrations was that it didn’t seem possible to give commands to each NPC independently. When telling them to take cover at a position, they would both go to it, disallowing users from strategically setting up, say, an ambush. The AI can also often get in the way. Sometimes soldiers will take the most direct route from Point A to Point B, with Point B being a position the player tells them to go to, except that said route is right through enemy fire, getting them killed. They can be revived, but this is not only annoying to have to do frequently, but it can also get the player killed very easily.

Another headache involves the AI clashing with the cover system. Players are supposed to take cover behind objects and walls and shoot from there. However, getting behind cover is a contextual button press that requires the user to be near the cover itself. What gets irritating is that friendly NPCs will often take cover at a spot the player was heading to (as they follow the user by default). When this happens, the player cannot use the cover and ends up standing out in the open frantically pressing the contextual cover button. One can surmise what happens next.