Sunday, 1 June 2003

Archive Review: Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield

(PC review)

It's not that I love guns, I just want one. One of the key reasons to why so many games nowadays are being made with vast inventories of weaponry is because the guys with the brains know that us gamers, well most of us, want to see guns in our games. As Neo intelligently, and quite philosophically, put in "The Matrix" when asked what he needed: "Guns, lots of guns". What words...

Tom Clancy's Rainbow six 3: Raven Shield (a name in serious need of editing) offers guns, infact it offers lots of... guns. 57 in total, but this does not account for the modifications of each gun. You can add silencers, extent the magazines size (even for pistols), or attach a mini-scope if you so desire. Each one of these add-ons comes in different forms, like with scopes you can go for a simple 4x lense or if you prefer it have night vision - even thermal vision! With this aspect in mind Raven Shield actually has something nearer 150 weapons! Insane. This does not include gadgets either, or different armour types. Nor does it include the different types of ammunition each gun has which you must also select. The great thing here is that each type of ammo really does make a difference to the performance of your firearm. Your ammo decision can mean the difference between life and death. FMJ rounds (Full Metal Jacket) will drive their way through anything when fired from a powerful gun, including body armour. But these rounds will hit your target and simply go straight through him/her. This will mean that they will obtain less injury, and may well still have enough strength to fire back at you. So only use these rounds when you know your enemy will be wearing body armour, because it will penetrate it. On the other hand, if your up against a bunch of freedom fighters who fancy their chances against your elite posse' then insert some JHP rounds into your boom stick. JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point) rounds expand on impact to the size of a football, terrible against anything except human flesh. They are alot more lethal than FMJ rounds against un-armoured tangoes. The physics for death animations in this game are the best ever created. It incorporates the new "Karma" physics system which came from Unreal 2. This basically creates a rag doll effect on player models so death animations are not so much programmed in as they are completely and utterly natural and always unique. Bodies will fall down staircases in total realism without any clipping issues. It's a mark of the next gen that's for sure. One sad note is that RS has blood but not on player models. Blood pools will build up under dead bodies and even mark the walls behind a struck foe but you see no impact marks on the bodies. Even Rogue Spear, the previous game in the series, had this in. I feel it simply is lacking in RS and for no obvious reason.

It's detail like this that RS is all about. The Tom Clancy games series has always boasted content and a challenge but no title has ever come close to RS.

Yeah yeah yeah, how does it play?

This game, incase you don't know, is an FPS. It's based on strategy rather than simply playing pre-scripted levels. In RS you plan the mission, right down from selecting your squad members to kitting them up and setting waypoints. This is all very cool stuff but the great thing is you don't actually have to do any of it. By default the game creates a plan for you to use and if your like me and simply want to get into the action and use your brains once inserted then this games allows for it. As I have already stated the actual equiptment selection for this game is insanely large. Any gun you can imagine is here, anything (unless your some gun expert freak guy). What really appeals to me about this feature is that when in multiplayer games the chances of someone using the same gun as you are slim! Someone may well have the actual gun your slinging, but do they have the extended mag and FMJ rounds? No, their using a silencer with JHP. I sound geekish I know, but it just feels so cool knowing that each player on either side has a unique gun configuration - unlike a game like Counter-Strike where you either have an AK-47, M4, or AWP, the rest is cack.

Q himself would be proud of the gadgets in this game. Anything from lock picks to breaching charges exist. The amount of tactics this implies for multiplayer is beyond imagination. You can snipe, set C4 charges, simply assault all guns blazing, use a heartbeat sensor and detect where everyone is, hell you can even blind everyone with a mad array of flashbangs and smoke grenades (which unlike most games will stay for ages). Why not put on a gas mask and lob a series of gas grenades around, ha, that'll do it! A great feature in this game is the door opening system. Most games, well every other FPS to date actually, does not incorporate any such system. You see a door, you open a door. In RS door opening is a skill that requires practice. You approach a door and have a choice: simply press the action key and open the door fast, or use your mouse wheel to manually slowly crank that door open. You can open it just a tiny bit to get a sneak peek of the room, or you can open it just enough to hurl a frag grenade in and then quickly close the door back. Bang! Then you open it fully and storm the room, which will probably be filled with dead bodies. But the best aspect is not this. The neatest, coolest, part of this system is the way you can use your smoke grenades. If you chuck one down just by the front of a closed door the smoke will go through the doorway gaps and fill the room up! Then you charge in with full smoke cover. This works in multiplayer games very well too, and gas grenades can also be used in the same way.

The single player in this game consists of 15 levels. Each level can be played over in various different modes such as lone wolf where you are placed on the map and have to make it to a waypoint on the other edge of the map. Sounds simple enough... but that waypoint and you are separated by anything up to 45 bad guys, mostly with Russian accents. So is the AI any good? When set for high difficulty settings the enemy in this game will put up a bloody good fight (did you get it? I used the word "bloody" heh). They will run after you, run away, strafe shoot, throw grenades, even call for backup which actually will arrive. The other aspect you must remember is that they have as much health as you, in most other FPS games the player is advantaged because they have a health bar and the enemy don't. Well in RS there is no advantage so each enemy tango must be treated as a worthy adversary. This good AI does not fall short when it comes to your teammates either. Many a time have my computer controlled squaddies saved my life whether it be because I couldn't be bothered to check a room before entering and they could or due to an enemy tango pinning me down and my team taking that tango out. In other words, they help which is all we can expect from them. Will they make you a cup of tea during moments of reflective silence? No. Will they tell you to stop so they can adjust your helmet strap (because they really are truly concerned for you) ? No!


Online RS is a little gem. It sparkles, no really I've seen it. At night, the box, it, it talks to me. Really it does. Anyway multiplayer consists of either your standard team versus team affair, last team standing. As well as this you can do co-operative mode which is where the game truly shines. An 8 player team can either play out one of the games missions together, including all the sub variations like Lone Wolf mode. The best variation, and the simplest, is simply a Terrorist Hunt. Your team must hunt down all of the terrorists on the map. The server can decide how many terrorists there are, and also their difficulty setting. The funnest servers host the cruel "45 Elite" settings. This is basically 45 terrorists all set for maximum difficulty! Even when all 8 players are amazing and work in a tight team this setting is tough, very damn tough. You grow to hate your enemy. If a squadmate dies you are fuelled by anger because you then know that you need to kill even more of them for the team to stand a chance. It's all a matter of ratio.

Graphics and Sound

What can I say? This game is next-gen. It is so next generation that you feel like you have travelled in time when you play it. The graphics engine is based on the Unreal Warfare one but is heavily modified. Player models don't let the side down either, even the very guns themselves are highly detailed. Cartridges will hit the ground and stay there, and one of the neatest features is the way you can see what everyone is carrying. This is not just a bunch of grenades and a pistol modelled on the player models, it's what that player is equipt with. If there are no grenades on his belt, he has no grenades. If there is one, that player has one remaining. Sound is also equally good. Each weapon has it's own unique effect, gunfire echoes around the corridors of indoor maps in a way that intensifies the immersion to a new hight. And one great aspect of most Tom Clancy games is the music! A game with good music! The dramatic score to RS is great as is the menu music, well done lads, well done.



Guns, lots of guns, a real challenge, good AI, great multiplayer, guns, lots of guns.


A few more missions would have been nice, no bullet impact marks on bodies, so many guns you forget which one you liked!


If you like FPS games, buy it

by The Critical Alien
© 2003

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post, it is great