Gaming Age

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3

Author: Travis Dwyer
Publisher: Ubisoft
Machine: Xbox (US Version)

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3

Ubi Soft and Tom Clancy go together like peanut butter and jelly, like ham and burger. Xbox denizens have had other tastes of Clancy games in the form of Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell, but despite being the third game in the series, this is the first appearance of Rainbow Six. A quality product from the bottom up, Rainbow Six 3 will not be left in the shadows of its close cousins.

Rainbow Six 3 is a squad based first person shooter along the lines of what you may have already seen in Ghost Recon or in earlier Rainbow Six games on the PC. You are Ding Chavez, leader of 4-man anti-terrorist squad. Your job is to lead your group by issuing orders to them, as well as doing your part in bombing, gassing, shooting, and saving throughout many different missions.

Should you choose to do so, you will have the option of generating commands through an easy to use on screen order interface or by barking commands into an Xbox Live headset. The on screen method is a marked improvement over Ghost Recon's map-based order screen. Your AI comrades, behind the scenes, must have many designated spots that they can occupy within a level, but it looks like they are making intelligent decisions on which walls to hide behind and what formations to take. Giving voice commands is so much cooler, but works in the exact same manner. Apparently any command you can give through the user interface, you can speak instead. I surprised that the game didn't even need to "learn" your voice. You just speak and it recognizes the patterns. It's very nice indeed.

There are a few problems that I have with the offline mode, and it's a lot of the same stuff that ruined Ghost Recon for me. Fundamentally, the game is too realistic for its own good. It's your job to move your squad through a level while the opposition gets to stand their ground, usually in some well hidden location. Inevitably what happens is the enemy spots you first and begins firing leaving you swearing at the TV wondering where the bullets are coming from. Either that or your squad sees the enemy and dispatches them before you can even get a shot off. This boils down to playing the level multiple times until you can get an idea of where the enemy locations are. Not only are they unfairly difficult to spot without harm the first time through, but they also occupy positions on the map that are "out of bounds," or areas that you cannot traverse. Despite these issues, the game has a remarkable pull, drawing you back again and again with each level needed to be solved like a Mensa logic problem.

The goldmine within Rainbow Six 3 is without a doubt the online play. Whether you fancy playing cooperatively with your friends or playing against others, you'll find plenty to do here. For my money, the co-op missions at where it's at. We tried some team deathmatch, and it was really weak. There are too many other games out there for deathmatch that do it better to even be bothered. I'm a huge fan of cooperative play anyway, and this ranks right up there with the best (this Halo and Baldur's Gate: DA co-op). You even have the option to complete the mission from the single player mode with between one and three of your friends. The interaction is great since so much communication needs to happen in order to coordinate tasks. Hilarity often ensues to due human error, like one person not getting the door open while another throws a smoke grenade right into it effectively gassing your whole squad.

Once again, major props to the developers for taking to the time to give Xbox owners more than just a straight port of the PC version. Graphics have been updated to use the Splinter Cell engine, and it really shows. Character and evironment models look solid, and lighting effects are especially nice. Much like Splinter cell, they are actually integral to gameplay. My friend and I got a kick out of our virtual selves mouthing our words as we communicated online. Framerate is mediocre but consistent. It doesn't give me a headache nor hinder aiming, which are my only prerequisites for first person games. The weapon sound effects are distinct and well put together, and the detonating munitions are loaded with bass. Other than that, the game is pretty quiet considering the nature of the missions.

There are a number of games I might recommend over Rainbow Six 3 if all you were interested in was a single player game, but the co-op online component is really the big selling point. That's not to say that the there isn't a compelling, if not addictive, single-play mode included. Rainbow Six 3 will make a pretty good holiday present for any Xbox gamer this year.

Travis Dwyer

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