The sharp shooting tactical gameplay has always had a strong feeling of realism running through it’s veins, so it was always going to be a bit of a worry playing the game on a touch screen, but thankfully Gameloft have pulled it off, although the experience isn’t perfect.
The story is the usual global terrorist guff, and follows a new recruit in the Rainbow Six unit. The plot ebbs and flows as expected, and there are few surprises, although the level of presentation is extremely high and there is full voice acting throughout.
There are eleven missions to play though, and they take you all over the world with a pleasing variety to the environments you visit.
Rainbow Six has always been a team based game, and here it is no different. You have two squad members that you can order about. Icons appear on walls and other forms of cover, and touching these makes your teammates take cover, and if there is a door, you can get them to boot it open and take fire, or throw a flashbang through the opening.
If you also take cover next to the door, you can slip a camera underneath and mark targets in the room for you team to take out once the door is breached. This all makes clearing rooms compelling and satisfying, with plenty of options to take out each enemy. There are plenty of gadgets to play with and lots more to unlock as you proceed through the game.
Teammates are quite intelligent and don’t get in the way too much, and they are pretty good at killing enemies, although not too good so you feel like you are part of the team.
One of the most pleasing aspects of the single player campaign is the way that mission objectives are given to you. Text appears on wall and objects to give you a helping hand, which I thought would be annoying when it first happened, but its actually a really good way of keeping your already busy HUD as clear as possible.
The gameplay does have a few faults, the first of which is the way the viewpoint changes when you come out of cover. Going into cover switches from your first person view to a third person view to allow you to aim around and over your cover, but when you switch back, the view isn’t quite where you expect it to be and you find yourself looking in the wrong direction, albeit only slightly. It’s not something I ever got used to and was still finding it disconcerting by the time I was playing through the last of the levels.
The other problem is that, while the game was obviously set up for sneaking around and moving intelligently from cover point to cover point, when you do find yourself accidently out in the open and having to fire from the hip, the controls aren’t up to the task. The zoomed in viewpoint, which is the obvious choice, feels too sluggish, and the normal view is too inaccurate. You end up relying on your health lasting longer than the enemies.
These same control problems also rear their head when you are doing something outside the usual realms of the game, such as chasing or protecting someone. In short, if you are clearing rooms or sneaking around, you will have no problem. Spark a big gunfight and you will be fighting the controls as much as the bad guys. Avoiding big firefights and using stealth is obviously the way Rainbow Six is meant to be played, but past games in the series fared much better in firefights.
The graphics are really nice, and despite a few ugly textures up close are really clear and smooth throughout with big, good looking levels and there is very rarely any slowdown in the framerate. Sound is good, with as mentioned before, full voice acting, and an original soundtrack.
So, what we have is a fairly decent stab at a Rainbow Six game on mobile, or so it would seem, as there is one big feature that helps raise this title up to a level it perhaps wouldn’t otherwise deserve.
A full online cooperative campaign. That’s right, the whole game can be played online with two other people, and I have to say, it rocks. You can either play with random opponents or with friends from your Gameloft Live profile, and you can play any mission you have already unlocked in the single player mode. There are also options for playing over local WiFi and Bluetooth.
There is also a deathmatch style mode with up to ten players online, and this provides a nice diversion, but its really the co-op mode that demands the most attention.
The fact that Gameloft has got this mode working, and working well is a real achievement, and lets hope that it leads to a slew of co-op fun in iOS.
Overall, what seems like a fairly decent Rainbow Six game is transformed by the addition of some fantastic online content. If you are going to be playing online, then this comes highly recommended. If you plan on playing alone, then you are getting a decent game that only really fails when it goes out of its comfort zone.