Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3
The critically acclaimed series is back with more action than ever before. Don't miss out on the fun.
By Ben S. Dutka
Rainbow Six, the elite anti-terrorism squad, first made its appearance back in the mid-90's on the PC. Challenging and loaded with a wealth of strategy and action, it became a pioneer in the relatively young genre. Now, in 2003, we see a revamped and reworked Rainbow Six for the console platform, and the action has never been hotter.
But make now mistake: Rainbow Six is still very much for the military strategist. Unreal this is not, so don't go thinking it's a pure first-person shooter. If you do, you'll be in for a world of hurt. It's a dangerous world out there, and bullets don't just harm, they kill. Let's take an inside look at what makes this title so darn appealing, and why you may soon be searching high and low for 15 other comrades-in-arms for some intense Live play.
The graphics aren't the best you have ever laid eyes on, but they're effective and quite detailed. I expected clipping to be more of an issue with a team of four, especially in close quarters, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined. The outside environments are designed very well, and the night vision and thermal goggles don't take away from the detail in the least. Fine coloring, even in the darkest of areas, is evident. You may notice some inconsistencies in the visuals as you proceed through the game, but none of them are major enough to warrant discussion.
The sound is one of the key factors of Rainbow Six, because you will constantly feel as if you are right there on the battlefield. The gunfire is loud, accurate, and realistic, and the voices are spot-on. Tramping through the snow will give a satisfying crunch, as will the distinct sound of walking over wooden planks. Each weapon has a sharp report, and each is specific to the weapon in hand. The soundtrack isn't overly impressive, but it fits the mood of the title extremely well. From the moment of insertion to the first time you contact some targets, you will feel like a member of Rainbow.
Rainbow Six has always been played from a third-person perspective, and you issued commands as you led a team on anti-terrorist missions. Ding Chavez returns as the leader, and the man you control. The series hasn't forgotten its roots and turned full-circle to an FPS; the strategy, based on your orders, is crucial. Without patience and some thought, you and your team could be very dead, very fast.
Commands are issued very simply, and here is where the interface truly shines. You can either provide quick orders to your team by simply pressing the "A" button (Move, Open and Clear, etc.), or you can select new or more complex commands by holding the button down. A small menu will appear in the center of the screen, and you can select from several options, including: Breach and Clear, Open, Flash, and Clear, and Open, Frag, and Clear. If you wish to toggle the Zulu Code, simply use the right trigger, and select with the directional pad.
These commands are taught in the Tutorial, and even for those who have never played the series before, it is relatively straightforward. Each command does exactly what it says. If you choose Open, Frag, and Clear, your team will open the door, toss a grenade in, wait for the explosion, and then run in and attempt to clear the room. Of course, this sounds great, but if there is a hostage in that room, you may have just ended the mission. Again, the strategy portion of the game becomes essential. Zulu means that the team will wait for your command to execute the action, allowing you to position yourself effectively for the entry.
You will follow a complex story involving a rogue band of terrorists that show no mercy and aren't afraid to let the bullets fly. However, here is where we come to a roadblock in the gameplay, and one that is unfortunately necessary to mention. To put it bluntly, some of these bad guys ain't so smart. The AI suffers in many areas, and occasionally, it's even painfully obvious.
There are times when you are spotted and even fired at, but by ducking behind an obstacle, the enemy can sometimes inexplicably lose interest. They will also run in odd directions, sometimes getting stuck near walls while trying to escape or run from cover. This has been a problem in every Rainbow Six game in existence, and while the situation has certainly improved for RS 3, the problem is still evident. The terrorists are still a challenge, and should not be taken lightly, but you will find yourself chuckling at a few of the lame-brained moves the enemy will sometimes make.
On the plus side, the control and diversity of the game as a whole is most refreshing. It plays with the format of a first-person shooter, but doesn't sacrifice much in the way of militaristic strategy. Want to free a hostage? Look at him or her, and press A. Want to diffuse a bomb? Do the same thing. And commands, we covered earlier. Once you've got all this down, and it won't take long, you're ready to learn how to be both a team leader and a deadly one-man killing machine.
There are times when it is actually more beneficial for you to go it alone, and these are instances that need to be recognized. Moving your team out into an open street with four snipers perched in the surrounding buildings is a great way to get everyone killed. But you, with your trusty sniper rifle and catlike stealth, can pick off at least three of those nasty snipers without ever being seen.
On the other hand, rushing headlong into a room with three terrorists packing automatic weapons is another quick way to meet death. You've got a team, and here is when you would want to utilize their skills to every extent. One of the best parts about Rainbow Six is that you have a truly competent team, and you can rely on them to handle their business when necessary. Granted, none of them will be as effective as you once you become a master at controlling Ding, but they are immensely helpful and should not be discounted.
The game plays very well, and that's probably all you need to know. The recoil on the weapons is tough to deal with at first, but then again, it's quite realistic. Zooming in for sniper mode, crouching, and maneuvering your teammates around is all done fluidly and easily, allowing you to focus all of your energy on completing the mission at hand. Be sure to peek around every corner and check every room - be thorough, be patient, or be dead.
Most will find that the depth is sufficient, although a few may have been hoping for a few more neat little tricks and gadgets; such items that could be found in games like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid (who else wanted the sticky shockers and little wire camera that you can slide under doors?). However, the action and strategy blends together nicely, and you should have every option and possibility right at your fingertips. It's not the deepest militaristic strategy game ever, but then again, you must remember that this game is more of a hybrid.
As is generally the case with Rainbow Six, the presentation is slick and stylish. The opening introduction sequence is excellent, and the cut-scenes and storyline are well designed and well developed. Your environment while playing reeks of realism and tension, and the format of the game is such that you always feel like you have complete control. You should never bother to question the presentation inherent to the Rainbow Six series; after all, how cool is the concept in the first place?
Overall, Rainbow Six 3 blends action and strategy into a very playable and approachable game. Rainbow rookies and veterans alike should take to this game like a fish to water, and although neither side will be completely satisfied, I wouldn't expect to hear many complaints, either. The online play is fast and intense, and with 16 players going at once, Rainbow Six 3 leaps to another level of addiction. There is some slowdown during particularly hectic online altercations, but nothing that can't be called normal.
If you like the idea of a complex FPS with just the right amount of strategy, it's time to run out and pick up Rainbow Six 3. A few low-IQ enemies, exceedingly frustrating levels (the difficulty can go a little crazy sometimes), and a team that can sometimes act like E1-rank, never-seen-action-before rookies, shouldn't deter you. Don't play it like Half-Life and don't play it like Rogue Spear; play it like Rainbow Six 3. This is one hybrid that gets it just about right.