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Aspyr Media
Release Date
December 2003

Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield
November 24, 2003 | Perry Longinotti

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Gameplay: Sneak, Kill. Sneak, Kill. Repeat as necessary.
Whether you jump right in, or thoroughly plan each mission, the magic starts as soon as you click the 'begin mission' button.

Raven Shield offers a superb control scheme for Mac users. I expected the lack of a three-button scroll mouse to pose problems, but the control scheme has been well thought out. If you lack a three-button mouse, you won't miss having one while playing this game. It might change before release, but I really liked the control scheme as it was.

My favorite feature while playing this game was the action button that is mapped to the space bar. Point at an object, or even an area on the map, and a white icon appears on the screen. The icons represent a number of possible action instructions that you can give your squad.

Point at a door for example and press space. Your squad will open the door and secure the other side.

AI: The First Rule of Management: Its Always Your Fault
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in a squad based tactical shooter is very important. It seems as though the level of AI in games has advanced at roughly the same pace as computer hardware the past few years. It is getting really quite good.

I found that in Raven Shield when a mission fails, it is usually because of the leader. I did not find myself cursing a NPC character once. This is especially promising, as the game is not finished yet (my build was from October). This means that it could still get even better.

Raven Shield offers players a relatively smart squad. Often, while sneaking about in the shadows, I would overlook a bad guy and leave myself prone. More than a few times my squad mates shot the bad guy before he could get me. Nice.

The NPC squad mates' abilities extend beyond simply providing back up, however. As mentioned earlier, by using the elegant control interface you can have your squad mates competently clear rooms and areas. In the past, I encountered computer-controlled squad-mates that would get stuck in the door only to be mowed down by the bad guys - not so in Raven Shield.

If you are careful in how you deploy them, I found that you could confidently send them in to do the dirty work while backing them up from a safe distance. Yes, I am a coward. That is why I write articles about war games and leave reality to the professionals.

Ultimately, when a mission fails it is usually as a result of being too aggressive yourself or in the commands you issue to your squad. A balanced approach yields very satisfying results. Having played these games for a few years, I can really see the improvements.

Enemy AI is pretty good too. I am not sure that it is significantly better than the AI in Ghost Recon - Raven Shield's predecessor. I suppose that if the AI was too realistic that it might make the game too difficult for a 'cream-puff' video game player that has never seen active duty like myself. When you come face to face with a bad guy, you have a very brief period of surprise. You have to shoot quickly.

Enemies, when alerted to your presence, will often find secure hiding spots where they can get their back to a wall and face the direction they expect you to come from. These situations can be challenging depending on the environment. In other instances they will come looking for you. If you run around Raven Shield shooting wildly at everything you will end up dead rather fast.

You will know when you have been spotted, the bad guys will smash glass and start firing or call for back up. Given the 'sneaking around in the dark' nature of the game, being spotted is usually good for a nice jump-right-off-your-chair scare. Overall the AI present in the build we got to play is very convincing and challenging to play against.


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