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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Ubi Soft

 

Developer

Red Storm Entertainment

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q2 2003

 

 

- Great Graphics/Sound

- Rainbow's Classic Gameplay

- Innovations

- Multiplayer (LAN excluded)

 

 

- LAN play

- Slight deviation from total realism feel

- AI still a little weird at times (although much improved)

- Needs more content

 

 

Review: Ghost Recon (PC)

Review: No One Lives Forever (PC)

Review: Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix (PC)

 

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Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield

Score: 9.0 / 10

Rainbow 6 almost single-handedly brought the realism shooter to realization.  Dubbed by many as the “thinking man’s shooter”, people quickly learned that old school Doom and Quake strategies need not apply in the stress-inducing one shot – one kill type of gameplay presented by Red Storm Entertainment.  For the first time after countless rehashes, the franchise is finally taking a major new direction in adopting Unreal technology to power the game.  This affects both gameplay, and obviously the audio/visual experience.  But the main question presented has to be: Is Rainbow 6’s unique gameplay still intact?

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The first thing anyone who has played any previous incarnations of R6 will notice, is the inclusion of a visible weapon in the first person view.  Back around Rogue Spear’s release, I asked the team why they chose the path of not including visible weapons.  It would be more realistic, right?  Well, the team’s answer that the inclusion of the weapon would obstruct gameplay.  No matter, now the weapons are visible, but there still is an option to hide the weapon if the player so desired. 

The weapons themselves, along with almost everything else in the environment are modeled with extreme detail.  Little things like door handles are modeled rather than just textured, and shows attention to detail.  All powered by Unreal technology, the environments are much more realistic looking than before.   The maps certainly take advantage of the extra headroom the artists were allowed, and every mission looks fresh and quite amazing.  Any complaints of the R6 series looking dated or mediocre can be silenced now.  The graphics are truly awesome, but remember when I said almost everything is done with great detail?  Well, the CARS, as always 

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in this series, look like balloons or bean bag chairs.  Although vehicles are not a major part of the game, it is really disappointing to see this part of the game neglected like this, and hopefully future games of the series will resolve this somewhat minor issue.  It really is becoming redundant.

But of course, the graphics would get the game nowhere without an adequate aural 

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experience accompanying it.  Raven Shield delivers.  3D virtualization, standard 3d sound and EAX support are all included as expected.  Gunshots, ambience, and dialogue are all very clear and convincing, although it would have been nice for languages to be more diverse.  One major gripe in the past has been that the same sound had been carried over when any weapon was used in the single shot mode.  This time around, it seems to be accurate to the type of weapon, and is a major improvement.  The weapons sound a lot more like believable firearms this time, and the difference is comparable to Rogue Spear over the original R6. 

When put together, all the elements of Raven Shield retain that feel unique to the Rainbow series, but with notable differences.  Now you are able to lay prone, adding distinctive advantages when using LMGs or similar weapons.  You are able to lean / crouch smoothly, using your mouse to peek around corners as much or as little as you want.  This also works for doors by using the mousewheel.  These set of “smooth moving” features actually don’t help as much as they seem like they would, but they are a welcome addition nonetheless. 

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The AI is MUCH improved over the previous games in the series.  The terrorists do not seem so much like drones anymore, but seem more alive and human in their actions.  They will hide, suppress fire, and try to flush you out actively.  There still are problems that exist however.  First off, the terrorists all seem READY and seem to be awaiting your entrance.  Even ambush missions leave you feeling as if the terrorists were awaiting your arrival.  They also seem to react too quickly, as they will fire with a slight glimpse of you.  Feels as if they are trigger happy Quake players (Nothing derogatory implied, I am a Quake monger myself).

Not so welcome are the weapon changes, which while feeling like weapons, the team seems to be moving more and more towards simple statistics, similar to that of an arcade game, rather than using real statistics to give characteristics to weapons.  For example, instead of presenting bullet caliber and muzzle velocity to get a damage score, a simple damage statistic is given, implying some form of simplification. 

Also, replays and recorded missions are GONE.  I don’t know how many people will find this downright annoying, but I liked this feature of the past.  This was probably omitted due to the change of engine and increased hassle it would have caused.  But it is still not excuse, for the exclusion of such a simple feature.

The MOST unwelcome change is a trend we are seeing in many multiplayer centered games these days such as Neverwinter Nights.  LAN PLAY IS RESTRICTED!  This is angering to all who have paid good money for the game only to find out that they cannot play a small LAN game with friends who come over because they haven’t bought more than one copy.  All those hypocrites who argue otherwise probably A) do not play or have a LAN or B) have some stake in making the money that would come from buying extra copies.  If they could limit around three CD keys to a server, that would be a much better solution.  Companies such as Blizzard have had a particularly nice track record about spawning multiplayer copies, yet they are among the most profitable of companies.  Definitely disappointing.

Although it has its gripes, Raven Shield still stands out as a polished, well executed title, that presents hours and hours of endless fun.  Over previous games in the long time running series, Raven Shield is a huge improvement.  While retaining its gameplay and adding numerous improvements, R6: Raven Shield is definitely worth checking out for any realistic tactical shooter fan.

 

- James Hsu

(June 1, 2003)

 

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