reviews\ Aug 21, 2004 at 8:00 pm

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow - XB - Review

Oh, where has all my weekends and late evenings gone?  What has dominated my thoughts with frag grenades and made me dream of tactical team-based maneuvers?  This is basically the questions this reviewer asked when Rainbow Six 3 was released on the Xbox and thanks to its highly addictive Xbox Live mode.  It can be arguably said that this is by far the best Xbox Live game around--well, until Halo 2 and Half-Life 2 are finally available--and just imagine the joy fans of this squad-based first-person shooter felt when Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow was announced and now released.  Well then, it’s time to lose some more sleep.


Once again you assume the roll of Ding Chavez, leader of a three-man squad of anti-terrorist specialists known as Rainbow . . . just don’t let their wimpy name fool you because this squad happily takes out the terrorist trash with brute force.  Black Arrow’s single player mode revolves around a terrorist network determined on kidnapping the world’s leading rocket scientists as well as starting a war on oil-rich areas around the Caspian Sea.  Sensing a diversion to create a weapon of mass destruction, Rainbow is once again sent to put a stop to the terrorist threat.


Black Arrow is basically an expansion disc because the mission structure, controls and feel of the original is present and accounted for in this game.  All the favorite modes are back but this time there are a few new additions as well as ten new missions for the single-player Campaign missions.  You’ll also notice that the maps are bigger than before.  Control-wise nothing has really changed.  This is still one of the smoothest and easy-to-jump-into tactical first-person shooters around.  The game even makes things so much easier to command your squad by allowing gamers to issue commands verbally thanks to the Xbox Communicator headset.  It is still quite a thrill to command your team to provide cover or to breach an area while you enter the scene through a different door.


Screen Shot for Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow


Like the original game, Black Arrow is the type of first-person shooter that can get you killed pretty quickly if you decide to tackle a situation recklessly.  Fortunately the new Lone Rush mode does allow us to rush into rooms with guns blazing since this mode has you quickly clearing a map before the timer runs out.  This is quite an addictive mode so be prepared to play it a lot.  Still, the majority of the game has you making careful realistic tactical decisions.  Rush into a room without careful planning and you might accidentally kill a kidnapped civilian or get members of your squad killed.


The Campaign missions once again put you in various scenarios throughout the world, many of which have you rescuing hostages and disarming bombs.  The maps this time are a bit huger and thus will have you checking the map ever so often.  To make things even more challenging, the enemy continues to be quick on their toes, although sometimes they are prone to making some really nonsensical decisions.  Still, the tactical part of this game becomes apparent the second you see open areas or rooms with locked doors.  How you position your team and the decisions you make determine the success of the mission.


The heart and soul of Black Arrow, though, is its multiplayer features . . . most specifically the Xbox Live game.  You have the option to play the multiplayer modes using System Link features for an up to sixteen-player game. There’s even a new split-screen two-player mode that has you playing the Campaign mission with a friend.  Yet all of this pales in comparison to the Xbox Live multiplayer modes.  Black Arrow is the first Xbox game supporting Xbox Live 3.0.  The new 3.0 functions just serve to make the experience all the more accessible to groups and thus creating clans or unique squads complete with your own squad codename and identifying emblem.  Once in a clan, the squad can enter tournaments and gain a reputation and thus making this the ultimate team-based experience.  All you have to do is grab some mates, challenge a clan and play through any of the various maps.  It really doesn’t get any better than this, believe me.


As for the graphics, nothing much has changed and depending on how demanding a gamer is on eye-candy this could be seen as both a blessing and a curse.  For one thing, the level of detail is still nothing to sneeze at considering how wonderfully sharp and vibrant the backgrounds look in this game.  Then again the character models of the terrorists, while looking realistic enough while they move or die, possess lifeless facial features.  The clipping problems found in the original are back in this game but they aren’t really a nuisance or a distraction.  Still, the game is big on effects, particularly the trippy effect stun grenades produce and the more realistic recoil of your weapon as it spits out empty bullet castings. 

Screen Shot for Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow


If there’s one word used to describe the sound in the majority of Tom Clancy games it’s: impressive.  The sound effects are just so detailed that you will feel as if you were right there in hostile territory whether it is indoors or outdoors.  The environmental noises will fill the room, rightly distracting you as you and your squad moves along.  Suddenly a burst of gunfire comes from the west and you’ll know it because the sound of the burst will sound like it comes from the west.  Your weapons sound sharper and have a realistic resonance.  Enemies scream in pain and explosions rock the room.  If you have a good sound system hooked up, turn up the volume and expect your neighbors to call in a SWAT team.


Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow joins the ranks of such killer tactical first-person shooters the Tom Clancy brand is known for and thanks to the Xbox Live this one has Instant Classic written all over it.  With enough single player missions to keep non-multiplayer fans nicely busy, Black Arrow will not fail to keep our adrenalin pumping and our need to take down terrorist in all new locales.  For those of you looking for an excellent Xbox Live game, look no further.  Buy this one right away if you loved the original and it’s also priced just right to boot. 


#Reviewer's Scoring Details Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3 Black Arrow

Gameplay: 9.0
The occasional stutter and unusual choice of tactics the computer-controlled enemy makes does not slow the game’s pace nor does it get in the way of this satisfying first-person shooter.  Nothing has changed from the original in terms of control and how commands are issued to your squad and this is a really good thing.  The new game mode, Lone Rush, is a welcome addition to the Rainbow Six franchise.


Graphics: 8.2
Visually, the improvements are very minimal but they do add more sharpness to what is a good-looking game with plenty of environmental detail.  Whether you’re taking enemies down in an outdoors or indoor setting, each locale really stands out.  While I wish the characters had the same attention to detail--specifically the faces--watching them slump over objects when shot is still a cool sight.  The clipping issues found in the original are also found in this one as well, unfortunately.


Sound: 9.5
I have yet to encounter a Tom Clancy game with bad sound effects, music and voice work.  Black Arrow’s sound is phenomenal with sound effects that deserve a great surround sound system if you have one hooked up to your system.  Aside from the environmental noise that realistically distracts players, you’ll know exactly where the enemy is thanks to the directional sound.  The music and voice work is also top notch.


Difficulty: Medium
The enemy AI is still at the top of its game and, for the most part, they do put up quite a fight during the single player game.  The mission structure makes for careful tactical planning in true Tom Clancy fashion so this isn’t your typical run-and-gun first-person shooter.  If you are looking for even more challenges aside from the Campaign mode, Lone Rush will keep your trigger finger very busy.


Concept: 9.5
While Black Arrow is an expansion disc filled with additional maps for the multiplayer mode, the game contains ten new single player Campaign missions with plenty to do as well as noticeable improvements throughout.  It’s also reasonably priced because of it.  Gamers can still issue commands to their computer-controlled squad via the Xbox Communicator headset and this makes the game move along even more smoothly.  And let us not forget what makes this game such an addictive experience . . . its Xbox Live multiplayer mode.


Multiplayer: 10
Rainbow Six 3 stole many countless nights, weekends and holidays from Xbox gamers and I have to admit that it still holds me captive thanks to its System Link multiplayer option.  Yet it’s the Xbox Live 3.0 capabilities that make this the ultimate Live game available thus far.  Black Arrow simply adds more maps, missions and even new modes to an already addictive online multiplayer experience fit for up to sixteen players.  The game is one of the reasons hardcore gamers should subscribe to the Xbox Live service.  And thanks to the new 3.0 features, the entire experience is just enhanced to new and more addictive heights. That’s how good it is.


Overall: 9.5
Simply put: Black Arrow is what you get when you take a stellar first-person shooter, add a perfect blend of tactical team management and an extremely addictive Xbox Live multiplayer game.  With a few improvements here and there and great new modes, Black Arrow is a perfect compliment to the wonderful original.  Trust me when I say that you will be playing this one for quite a long while.


About The Author
In This Article
From Around The Web
blog comments powered by Disqus