Developer: Red Storm Entertainment
Publisher: Red Storm Entertainment
Reviewed by: Ben Ivers
The first person shooter (FPS) category is full of Quake and Doom clones, some of which break new ground, but most just regurgitate the same old shoot and run gameplay. Don't get me wrong, I love Quake2 and play it all the time still but there seems to be only a few really good mods and games to support the genre. Yes, Rainbow Six is a FPS, but unlike anything we have ever seen before. It combines amazing gameplay with above average graphics to create a good game. Add in a rich Clancy'esque story and you have one of the best games I have ever seen.
What is Rainbow? Well, the game takes place in 1999, you are an agent in an elite top secret anti-terrorist organization. You are in command of a team of six agents that you can choose that have specific specialties. Henceforth the name Rainbow Six. You complete missions to advance the storyline. In between the missions you are told the story from a series of briefing screens and a few intelligence people. You end up fighting a terrorist organization called the Phoenix Group that tries to release a dangerous chemical weapon at the the summer games in Sydney, Australia.
This is where the game shines, and very brightly at that. The game begins missions with a series of briefing screens that explain the dynamics of the mission. Then you move on to screens allowing you to pick your team members up to six from four different categories, assault, electronics, demolitions, and recon. Each character has a certain set of skills that can be improved throughout the course of the game. Once you pick your team you can divide them into as many as four smaller squads. Each squad can have up to four characters in each, even though the entire team is limited to six. Then comes the arming screen, you can't go into battle with your hands alone, where you can pick a primary and a secondary weapon that is appropriate to the mission. The weapons are appropriately powered and come in a nice variety from M16's to silenced MP5's for the primary weapons, and different types of pistols with or without silencers for your secondary. You are also given a couple of other slots to carry anything from extra ammo to specialization kits to grenades and flashbangs. One of my favorite toys to use is the heartbeat sensor, this allows you to see your enemies on the mini map and detect where they are and there movements up to a certain distance from your location. You can also apply different types of armor for the different atmospheres from Biosuits for contaminated areas to simple green camouflage for forest settings. So, now you have your team assembled and split into appropriate teams, now comes the first major part of the mission, the planning. This is what helps you control all of your men at the same time and not feel overwhelmed as well as allowing you to asses the situation prior to going into battle. You create waypoints for your squads to follow. There are also some extras to apply such as varying speeds from safe to blitz, different modes of approach like escorting, engaging, clearing, and advancing. You can also tell your squads to wait for a go codes such as alpha, bravo, and charlie which can be executed from the action half of the game. The map that you plan these waypoints show the actual waypoint and the line in which the characters will or rather should follow. It, the map, is rotatable as well as allows for 2D or 3D perspective planning. It will also show multiple levels if applicable and most importantly the approximate locations of the terrorists as well as your objectives. The planning phase of the game will probably take a few tries to get perfected. OK, so the major planning is done, the teams are assembled and ready, and you know were the objective is, however there is one question left who will you play? You can choose which character in the squads you would like to be, don't worry though because you can always switch characters in the action half with just the touch of a button. Now you are ready for action. This half of the game plays similar to the way a FPS should. You run around completing your mission objectives by following the waypoints you chose earlier in the planning phase with a small version of the map you used for planning with at the lower edge of the screen. You also receive a variety of different monitors that tell you what your heart rate and the heart rate of the people in your squad as well as the status of the people of the other squads. There are also counters for ammo and a selector for what you are currently using whether it be your primary weapon or your grenades or your heartbeat sensor. There is a set of crosshairs that tell you the accuracy of the shot you are trying for, this is very handy for sniping. That brings me to sniping, you have that ability. This makes killing the terrorists much easier and fun. This is another feature I really love. The controls are simple to learn and can be changed very easily from the options menu.
The graphics are available in software mode, which is quite nice for software, or in Direct3D mode with resolutions up to 1024x768. The graphics are about average, maybe a little above average. The actual characters are nice and accurate to what you equipped them with. The buildings are also nice and simple. Nothing really to rave about in this area but still adequate. However there are a few things that are pretty bad. Most ladders are 2D bitmaps and some of the objectives are the same. This kind of takes away from the overall feel, but can be easily overlooked because you are for the most part too worried about surviving to bitch about the graphics. This also reinforces the reason as to why we play games, for gameplay and interesting subject instead of graphics. Also the game is set in real life where very little colored lighting effects are needed along with many other of the eye candy that we drool over in other games.
This is one of the things that Red Storm was bragging about before the game was released. Well, it didn't break any new ground but it still has a good AI. The AI is not as prominent at the easy level but if you play the game at the hard level then the terrorists become very smart. They begin using heartbeat sensors and start large patrols which makes the game more fun. Another interesting feature is if you kill a terrorist and another one hears or sees he will go for reinforcements and come after you, at least they did for me. Very nice. However, the team AI is something to be desired. Sometimes your men will do some bonehead moves such as walking into an open room without looking and being cut down with the next bonehead following to be cut down right after the other. They also often get stuck in stupid locations and stand there with dumb looks on there faces uselessly. They can usually be pushed to where they need to go to clear the door or the ladder or whatever. Every once in a while your team members will save your neck by seeing someone you didn't notice and taking them down for you.
As if you still need a reason to go out and buy this game there is an amazing multiplayer component. The multiplayer can be played over TCP/IP up to eight players. They also give you the option to play on MPlayer for free. The game comes with a few different multiplayer options. You can play adversarial or co-operatively. In adversarial there are five different games: stronghold, regroup, survival, double stronghold, and team survival. Stronghold is simply having some one hold his ground while everyone tries to take it from him. Double Stronghold is when the players are split into teams and try to acquire the other teams ground. Regroup is exactly what it sounds like one team tries to rendezvous at a point while the other tries to stop them. Survival is a the typical deathmatch with or without teams. All of these are very fun and give a good variety. Each player can outfit themselves with the weapons and items of their choice. There are about 20 maps that can all be seen in the single player game. The next item is the co-op, which is very fun, especially if you don't have many people to play with. The players can do any single player mission they wish. This is kind of like the single player with intelligent teammates. The lag for internet play is very good anyone with a 28.8 will have no problem playing. Granted if you have a faster connection then the game will become smoother. Faster connections are recommended for hosting games especially games with above 3 players.
The Verdict Please...
This game has definitely impacted my life with late nights and very sleepy work days. All in all this game is probably one of the most fun games I have ever seen joining great single player with amazing multiplayer. Even the small imperfections that this game has will and should be overlooked. And, with some patchwork that is already out or in the works the game keeps getting better. This leaves us with a promising look to the future for Red Storm Entertainment. So, buy it, try it, love it. You won't be disappointed.
Our rating out of 10: 9.6
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