After waiting this long, it has to be good! Right? - Review By Subskin
Rainbow Six was originally scheduled to be a launch title, as in September 9, 1999. Since then Majesco announced at least two release dates a month, giving Rainbow Six a grand total of over seventeen projected release dates! R6 has been delayed so frequently that it's become an easy joke around Gamespy -- "Can you review Gundam?" "No, I'm already supposed to do Rainbow Six when it comes out tomorrow. *snicker*..."
After screwing up my review schedule for eight months -- and being a lazy excuse to avoid reviewing games like ECW Hardcore Revolution -- Rainbow Six is finally available in stores! Why the long delay? Read on, brothers and sisters, read on...
You plan your assault before each mission. A good plan could be the difference between failure and success.
Rainbow is a global counter-terrorist organization. Several countries provide their best soldiers in discretionary warfare and sophisticated weaponry to this new unit. As a politically neutral unit, Rainbow is focused solely on rescuing hostages and preventing civilian casualties. Where traditional elite forces such as Navy SEALs or the British SAS might threaten international relations, Rainbow can enter as an impartial police force.
Although Rainbow is a fictional organization, everything else in R6 is as realistic as you can get with a TV screen and a joystick. Sorry Quake freaks, random machine gun fire will get you nowhere. (And don't even think of trying a rocket jump.) Most clips hold fewer than twenty rounds, and it takes around five seconds to reload. This means every bullet counts; miss a shot, and you can bet the terrorist won't make the same mistake. A single bullet is very often all it takes to kill. Even at long range, one AK-47 shell is more than capable of dropping you like a kevlar-coated Kenny McCormick.
R6 abandons the traditional "you versus the world" mentality of typical first person shooters. Instead, you command one to four separate teams of expert counter-terrorists. Before each mission, you plan out the paths your soldiers will follow. You give them a series of waypoints, and tell them to "recon search this area" or "wait here." Once they get to the point, they radio back. When everything is ready, you give the "Go" order and your plan proceeds.
Night vision goggles bathe the world in shades of green.
Team members react to terrorists and NPCs based on the rules of engagement you set -- blitz, engage, escort, whatever. To defend themselves and hostages, Rainbow Six carry actual state-of-the-art weaponry, and use it accordingly. You may find yourself staring at a door with no idea what's on the other side. You may have to pick the lock, blow it open, or just use the knob. It's often a good idea to toss a flashbang grenade in to blind any unseen terrorist. Then you've got to rush through the door, spin around to search the room, and pick the terrorist off with a well-placed MP-5 shot. All the while, you'll be praying there isn't another terrorist behind you.
Following the trend, the level design is also delightfully realistic. All the classics from the PC version of Rainbow Six and the Eagle Watch add-on are here - including the embassy and the 747. There are also 27 training scenarios, and a new mission designed specifically for the Dreamcast version. What R6 lacks in graphical luster, it augments with painstaking realism...
...Painful realism. Also mind-numbing realism. Also wish-I-had-a-real-submachine gun-so-I-could-put-this-game-out-of-its-misery realism.
Rainbow Six is difficult. How bad? Walk too close to a window, you'll be sniped. Step around a corner, you may be dead before you see the terrorist who was monitoring that direction. There is no way to peek around the corner, as in Soldier of Fortune or Thief 2. There aren't even footsteps or other sounds that games like Counterstrike provide to give you some chance of avoiding death. Instead, you just have to cross your fingers, walk around that corner, and catch a .45 slug with your forehead.
Next: More Bad, and The Final Word