reviews\ Nov 16, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 - XB - Review

The tactical squad-based games have been piling up this year and rightfully so.  The success of the Ghost Recon series on the Xbox and the SOCOM games for the PS2 have shown that gamers do enjoy a game that puts you in charge of your own team of specialists ready to take on terrorist threats around the world--and who wouldn’t, really?  The Rainbow Six games, though, have jumped from the PC to consoles such as the Sega Dreamcast and even the original Playstation so hearing about that the series continues on the Xbox made this reviewer’s mouth water.  So does this game have what it takes to compete with the Ghost Recon games?  Oh yeah.


Gamers take up the role of Ding Chavez; the leader of an elite team of specially trained tactical operatives known as Rainbow.  It is the year 2007 and the oil crisis in America has caught the interest of a terrorist faction based in Venezuela where America gets most of its oil these days.  The result is a terrorist plot against Americans and this is something the United States will not tolerate.  To out an end to the acts of violence, destruction and hostage taking, Rainbow is activated and are sent to eliminate the threat they only way they know how--skilled, tactical professionalism and plenty of bullets.


The Rainbow team is composed of three specialists--Loiselle, Weber and Price. While you don’t get to take control of the three other operatives, you do get to command them during the game’s fourteen missions.  The commands are plentiful and range from following you to securing a location by tossing a flash grenade into a room and storming in with guns blazing.  You can also issue orders on Zulu, meaning they will only perform that task in one location if you give them the go-ahead.  This order works best when you want to burst into the same location using a different door than your team.


Rainbow Six 3 has a variety of missions that slightly mirror those of the Ghost Recon games.  The missions put you up against a terrorist threat while securing hostages and deactivating bombs scattered throughout the area.  One mission has you killing off terrorists in an alpine resort while another has you in an oil refinery in the Dutch Caribbean.  Unlike the Ghost Recon games, though, you’ll often be in communication with your contact person so you know exactly what to do during the mission.


The controls are easy to get into for a first-person shooter that stresses the importance of team interaction and switching from your primary weapon to your secondary weapon is satisfyingly quick.  Yet the game is realistic enough that how fast you can reload your weapon depend on the weapon itself.  From the start of each mission, you are given the choice of what kind of equipment you want to carry for each weapon.  Your armament ranges from heavy machine guns to light Macs with silenced barrels.  You can also decide whether you want the non-lethal smoke grenades to grenades that can set your enemies on fire.


The game also allows you to use your Xbox Communicator headset to issue the commands by voice so you can concentrate on what you’re doing rather than going through the command menu.  The bad news, though, is that even with this help the game is still a bit too hard as a single player experience.  The difficulty comes from the incredibly intelligent enemy AI that ups the challenge considerably.  It also doesn’t help that your three teammates often make boneheaded mistakes such as throwing a flash grenade against a wall instead of out the door and thus blinding you instead.  They also often stumble their way into a location, making them easy targets in the process.


Now on to the good news, which is very good news indeed.  This game was made with multiplayer in mind and while you can set up a great multiplayer game using the System Link cable, the game really shines online using the Xbox Live service.  That’s right, this is--by far--the best online game since Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War.  Up to sixteen players can take each another on different game modes and types such as Optimatch, adversarial and cooperative matches.  You can team up with friends and take on strangers online or you can split up and have an every man for him or herself.  The options are all up to you.


Visually, Rainbow Six 3 is quite beautiful to the point that it contains most of the things we loved about Splinter Cell’s graphics.  The lighting is handled just as gorgeously and gamers will be at awe how lighting plays a role in the game.  Don’t know if there’s an enemy behind that corner?  A light source might give him away once his shadow shows up.  The environments are also nicely detailed and, although you’ll find many corridors throughout the game, they are never dull to look at.  The effects really steal the show, though, and you’ll see this especially when things explode or when enemies catch on fire.


Yet it is the sound that wins over the visuals with its ample amount of detailed sound that will practically surround you.  Each environment is filled with the smallest of details to the point that everything will catch your attention.  If somebody opened a door somewhere in a building, you’ll know it from the squeak.  Sound can also distract you.  For example, moving through a villa you will hear the wind slam a shutter, catching your attention to the point that you might just get caught looking away from a target.  The music in this game is also good, although you’ll hear it mostly in the load screen.


Rainbow Six 3 does not revolutionize the squad-based tactical action genre but it is sheer perfection and the most addictive first-person shooter to come along since Halo.  Not only does this game feature some excellent missions but its online mode makes this the best Xbox Live title up there with Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War.  Buy this one if you love first-person or great action games. 


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 9.2
There are just so many ways you can approach a given situation within each mission and this is the heart and soul of Rainbow Six 3 . . . and what makes this such a pure joy to play on a continuous basis.  The game plays like an excellent first-person shooter but the squad commands and tactical strategies are left entirely up to the player in the same fashion as the Ghost Recon series.  The mission variety also helps keep the game fresh and addictive and the Custom Mission mode will have you going up against terrorists (without worrying about hostages and bombs) in areas you unlock up the replay value.


Graphics: 9.0
Remember a little game called Splinter Cell?  Do you remember how it captured lighting so perfectly that everything that moves past a light source make a realistic shadow?  If you do then Rainbow Six 3 will bring back memories of that other Tom Clancy inspired game and this is a very good thing.  A first-person shooter to blend such beautiful light with highly detailed environments is pretty rare and so it is a treat to see this game in action.  Although the characters during the game look a bit awkward (most notably their heads and faces) and the bodies of fallen terrorists simply disappear if you look away for a second, the game’s visuals are still quite amazing.


Sound: 9.2
Now do you remember a little tactical squad based game called Ghost Recon?  Do you remember how the environments reek with audible detail in the littlest of things such as a wind passing through trees or the barking of a dog in the distance?  Sound is handled wonderfully here and this also goes for the voices of your squad mates and the sounds of your various weapons.  Explosions also sound incredible if you have a good sound system.


Difficulty: Hard
You’ll quickly find that the game is also hard even in the Veteran difficulty mode.  This becomes noticeable once you move on to the second and third missions, which will often have you loading the game again and again.  The reason the game is so hard is the fact that the enemy AI is wonderfully intelligent and your enemies have the good sense to take cover or carry out ambushes successfully.  Your team, though, is not as smart and makes plenty of unusual mistakes.  While this might be a bit frustrating for some gamers its addictive gameplay won’t make you mind doing it over again.


Concept: 9.0
The Rainbow Six games have always been about the interaction between your team and the situation that demands you to come up with different methods of performing certain tasks.  You can chose to go into a building with guns blazing or have your men toss a smoke grenade into the room before storming inside to secure the room.  Freedom of choice is always an excellent quality to have in a game and the Rainbow Six games allow you to select your own gear and devise your own tactical plans.  The Xbox version isn’t any different and it feels right at home with the console.  The game also allows you to customize your game online and use the Xbox Communicator for single player use.  There’s also downloadable content for Xbox Live subscribers.


Multiplayer: 10
This is the game the Xbox Live gamers have been waiting for and it’s online multiplayer fun does not disappoint in the very least.  Aside from the fact that you can play this one using a System Link cable and multiple Xbox consoles for up to sixteen players, the online game has plenty of options and several different game types to choose from on the Xbox Live.  You can team up with friends to take on others in Optimatch mode or you can customize your own game and basically have a last-man-stand type of match.  You can also team up with friends for a co-op version of the single player campaign missions.  The possibilities are all there, which makes this multiplayer heaven for fans that love to share their game with friends.


Overall: 9.3
Quite possibly this year’s best tactical squad-based action game on the Xbox, Rainbow Six 3 proves that the genre can be ultra realistic and ultra fun at the same time.  With lush graphics and detailed sound, seldom does a first-person shooter really immerse you into the game’s world the way this one does.  Not only do you command a squad but you make up your own tactical strategies all on your own--isn’t freedom wonderful?  Buy this one right away, you won’t regret it.


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