Rainbow 6: Shadow Vanguard (iPhone)
My shrink will be pleased. Heaped upon my usual pile of worries I now have a fear that I have unusually large thumbs. After a few hours playing Rainbow 6 Shadow Vanguard on the iPhone I caught myself looking sideways at the thumbs of other men. Are his thumbs smaller than mine? Like some reverse penis envy I realized that I really wanted tiny thumbs. Oh I may get strange looks from people who notice my malnourished digits but at least I would be able to play Shadow Vanguard.
Rainbow 6 Shadow Vanguard is a FPS tactical shooter. The game aims to have the player complete objectives using a combination of stealth, gunplay and team based tactics. The usual counter terrorist equipment such as silencers, flashbangs and snake cameras are used to investigation the rooms ahead. The aim is to dispatch the enemies as stealthily as possible while moving from cover to cover towards your objective.
Shadow Vanguards missions are a pretty straight forward find and kill your target. However, throughout each mission there are optional objectives that can be completed for greater experience gains and that fuzzy feeling of completism. The games visuals are pretty impressive for the iPhone of course the Lighting is a little flat and the enemy animations are stilted but it is still a sophisticated game. Despite this, with full voice acting and an extremely poor attempt at a cohesive narrative it’s obvious that the game was made as if it was to be played on a console. Its aspirations seem greater than the technology or the developer’s skill to use that technology.
In the opening training exercise I was impressed (however briefly) by the virtual thumb stick and movement controls. They were surprisingly fluid and responsive and within seconds I was moving from room to room easily. As the tutorial progressed though my screen began to get cluttered with more and more icons. As each part of the tutorial explained an action the corresponding icon would appear causing me to lose more and more valuable screen space. On screen at any one time the player has icons for a virtual thumb stick, grenade, aim, shoot, stances, a weapon icon that manages all aspects of your weapon inventory, a pause button and an icon that monitors noise. Amongst all of this you have to find space for you right thumb to move your view without it obscuring what’s ahead
My curiosity about the apparent massiveness of my thumbs began when I couldn’t quite manoeuvre around without accidentally pressing the fire icon. My team mates didn’t so much as flinch as I fired half a clip into every second wall. The UI is incredibly clumsy and detracts from what could be an enjoyable experience. As I played I couldn’t help but wonder why this particular style of game was made for the iPhone. It just seems misjudged. I had wrongly assumed that the game would play much like the very first Rainbow 6 games where tactics were planned ahead on a schematic of the building. This old style would fit particularly well with the touch screen but for whatever reason (and I can guess a few) the cluttered UI and newer style of play was used.
This game shows a worrying trend at the moment of larger developments that try to squeeze their IP onto the iPhone market without truly understanding what it is that makes great iPhone games work.
As you may guess my time with Shadow Vanguard was frustrating and disappointing. Looking past my thumbs (somehow) and underneath its bloated UI I can see the potential for an enjoyable game if only it were designed with the iPhones tried and tested control schemes in mind.
Feel free to detract or increase the ‘score’ below depending on the size of your digits.
5 oversized fingers out of 10