Written by  :  Terrence Bosky (5472)
Written on  :  Sep 13, 2002
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars

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Rainbow Six 2.0

The Good

The Rainbow team is back in this follow-up to 1998's Rainbow Six. Once again, terrorists are threatening the world's stability, taking hostages, and planting bombs and only Rainbow can stop them. Following the same setup as the prior game, each mission begins with a briefing detailing the goals of the mission (hostage rescue, kill all terrorists, etc.). Then you choose from a wide pool of international operatives, equip them for the mission, and plan the action using detailed maps of the level. In the final stage, you take command of one of the teams and play through the level, issuing orders to other teams as you go.Rainbow Six was innovative for this planning procedure and also for its adherence to realism. All weapons are based on real-life firearms, sound effects are authentic, and unlike most first person shooters, the game is largely one-shot, one-kill.

Rainbow Six wasn't a typical first person shooter, in that you didn't grab floating rocket launchers and run from power-up to power-up. But it did lack some FPS features that players found useful. In Rogue Spear, players now have the option to look around corners- a must for the stealth-type playing the game demands. It is also now possible to run while crouched. Gamers are still unable to jump, as the designers claim a counter-terrorist group wouldn't jump around and shoot.

Rogue Spear also features a revamped terrorist AI. I'd say that this was hit and miss. Enemy AI still doesn't seem to respond to seeing dead bodies, but they do run for cover when fired on. Also, hostages tend to lose their cool during firefights and run in panic.

Finally, the revamped planning stage is better. Go-codes, or points where teams await orders, have useful settings like covering an area and sniping. I was particularly impressed when I ran into a building, used a Go-Code and watched my team open doors to check for terrorists.

The Bad

Rogue Spear plays more like a revamped Rainbow Six, than a game of its own. Although a year had passed since the original game's release, the only big changes were features that should have been incorporated in the first game.

While enemy AI is improved, team AI still seems lacking. There is less crowding in the doorways, but teams still blunder into fire zones, even after seeing the first people in the team get fired on.

Clipping is pretty bad. You can usually see the barrel of a terrorist's gun poking through a door before they open it. Watch the game play out in the replay or the Watch Mode, and you'll see characters get caught on corners, slip into walls, and more.

The storyline is less compelling in this game, probably because they aren't drawing on a Clancy novel, but the former Soviet threat seemed trite. Also missions didn't seem to flow as well as the original one's did.

Finally, operatives are largely anonymous. You'll choose them according to their statistics, not personality. Wounding and Fatigue seem deemphasized, and for the most part, I could keep reusing the same core group of operatives.

The Bottom Line

If you enjoyed the original Rainbow Six, then I think you'll enjoy this game. If you didn't, then I don't think any improvements will sway you. It remains a very good, squad-based stealth-driven shooter, even though it's less compelling than the original.