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Posted on May 8, 2005 in Electronic Games

Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow – Game Review (PC)

By Mark H. Walker

Fight terrorists and save the world from weapons of mass destruction.

The men of Tom Clancy’s elite anti-terrorism squad are at it again. Not content with dominating the squad-based tactical shooter genre on the PC, Ubisoft long ago slid the franchise over to the console. In fact, Rainbow Six 3 , released earlier this year for PlayStation 2, was a huge hit. Now the men in black Kevlar are back – this time with a new game and a new set of missions for Microsoft’s Xbox. In Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow, the operatives must infiltrate a terrorist organization and stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Outdoors or indoors, Rainbow Six fights anywhere. Here, an operative lights up the hall of a great manor. Each level is as unique as it is beautiful. Check out those weapon flashes!

Although the missions and console are new in Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow , it looks – and plays – one heck of a lot like the earlier version. That, however, is not a bad thing. In the console versions of the Rainbow Six series, the player controls a team of four operatives during save-the-world type counterterrorist missions. Each mission is seen through the eyes of the lead operative, Ding Chavez, but his teammates are more than just dummies stuffed into the game to catch bullets. Team members are controlled with an interface that is as effortless as it is clever, and they respond with an almost uncanny intelligence. For instance, place the cursor on a door and press the action button; the team will open the door and clear the room behind it. Orders can also be queued for later execution.

The game’s 10 missions cover a wide range of scenarios, from rescuing hostages, to defusing bombs, to taking down terrorists. The play moves quickly with a large dose of tactical, stealthy, edge-of-the-seat operations.

Taking down bad guys outside the soda shop. It’s a great place to fight – players can have a banana split when they’re finished! Close combat with a view. Team Six fights it out in a room overlooking scenic mountains.

Online play is also enjoyable. Using Microsoft’s Xbox Live, players can find a game within minutes. Pair the Xbox’s broadband capabilities with a semi-beefy processor, and online play is stutter-free. Those without broadband can participate in multiplayer sessions via the split screen mode, and any of the games support the Xbox communicator headset.

Unfortunately, the graphics are nothing to write home about. In fact, it is difficult to see the difference between Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow and the PlayStation 2’s earlier version. Images are a bit crisper and the frame rate is higher, but in general it looks the same. Nevertheless, RS3 is an attractive game. The animations and environments look real enough to draw players into the fiction – which is what the game does best. The combination of engrossing missions, clever teammates and realistic gun battles pulls players into Black Arrow and keeps them there until the world is safe.

The player’s team fights alongside him. Here, team members provide covering fire. Black Arrow provides the same high-tension multiplayer action Rainbow Six fans have come to expect from the series.

Originally published in the May 2005 issue of Armchair General magazine.

Author Information

Mark H. Walker is a commander in the U.S. Navy reserves. A veteran electronic entertainment/IT journalist and board game designer, he has authored or contributed to over 40 books and recently designed the critically acclaimed board wargame, “ Lock ‘n Load .”

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