Having a decked out weapon gives you a noted edge in combat, but it's knowing how to use it that counts. Yesterday's pistol can be more powerful in the hands of a sharpshooter than the newest rifle held by a rookie.
Similarly, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard tries to outshoot the competition on iPhone and iPod touch with an impressive array of cutting edge features, including online co-operative multiplayer, but it fails to craft good gameplay around this feature set.
Laggy multiplayer, unpolished single-player missions, and various minor flaws prevent it from shooting straight.Around the world in 11 missions
Not offering much of an overarching story, Shadow Vanguard has you leading a three-man counter-terrorism team across 11 individual missions.
Tactics rule the day in this contemplative shooter, which has you directing your team with taps of contextual icons that appear along building walls, barrels, boxes, and other items in the environment. Wise command over your team is just as critical to success as shooting enemies yourself.
Interesting scenarios have you disabling explosives on a massive dam, rescuing an abducted diplomat, and saving a scientist from a band of African guerrillas. Missions often allow you the freedom to choose different tactical approaches, giving the game a more dynamic feel than the typical linear shooter.
Unfortunately, the action is so thoroughly unpolished that enjoying this variety is difficult.
The scripting is transparent and often laughable. At the start of mission six of the single-player campaign, for instance, being spotted instantly ends the mission. Requiring stealth is fine, but some leeway should be given. How about allowing me to silence the enemy that spotted me rather than making me restart the mission?
Enemies are generally pretty dumb, too. On numerous occasions enemies stood out in the open waiting to be shot or cowered against a wall despite the whizz of bullets all around them. Commanding a team of operatives with an array of tactics literally at your fingertips is cool, but less so when you don't feel threatened by your enemies.
In general, the single-player game lacks the tight design and polish of Gameloft's better shooters - and some of the features, as you're unable to customise the controls. It's nowhere near as entertaining as a result, despite the interesting tactical tint.
Lag with friends
Multiplayer should make up the difference; however, excessive lag across both cooperative and competitive modes limits the appeal. Bluetooth or local wi-fi are the way to go when setting up one-off co-operative missions with friends in order to avoid technical troubles online.
It's particularly disappointing on the competitive side, where players can regularly be seen glitching through levels. Getting into a match is tough enough that enduring the constant lag and trying to compete makes online play not worth the effort, especially with Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus and N.O.V.A. 2 available.Shadow Vanguard doesn't hold a candle to either of Gameloft's earlier shooters, even though it arguably packs a superior set of features. No one flaw is at the heart of this underwhelming game - several issues contribute to a general lack of polish and attention to detail. It's playable, though not particularly enthralling.
Want more? Check out our growing collection of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Shadow Vanguard articles!