Rainbow Six, long heralded as the king of ‘think and shoot’ action games (heck it invented the genre) gets closer to perfection with each successive generation. The latest title to take place in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six world is Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield.
Perhaps the Rainbow Saga’s greatest asset is Tom Clancy's uncanny ability to devise fictional narratives that closely resemble real world events, and in some cases prophesize them with eerie accuracy. Clancy's Rainbow Six universe is one that is only slightly more unstable and volatile than ours. In this fictional world complex political problems often require a solution that is both surgically precise and lethal.
That is where you come in. You get to assume the role of the returning cast of characters that has appeared in all the Rainbow Saga games. A bit more experienced now, you and your elite team must race to uncover and defeat a Terrorist plot to destroy the world we know. Of course, this means you get to travel around the world in various locations from stark oil fields to glamorous Rio de Janeiro.
Raven Shield arrives on the Mac this holiday season in all its singleplayer and multiplayer glory after a relatively short (for Mac conversions) delay. Aspyr is handling the conversion so we can expect a quality product.
IMG was recently granted an opportunity to play a very mature build of the game, but before we get to our impressions perhaps we should set the stage a bit.
Something for EveryoneThe beauty of Rainbow Saga games, for those of you unfortunate enough not to have tried them yet, is that you can play through using well-calculated tactics or let the computer plan your missions for you and jump right into the action.
When Rainbow Six first arrived there were many people like myself whose short attention spans and desire for immediate gratification turned them off. But with each generation, the Rainbow Six franchise has become more accommodating and accessible. Raven Shield seems to have found an almost perfect balance.
Levels start with a mission briefing. Initial missions begin with detailed briefings that all but spell out how to complete the level. As you progress, the amount and detail of intelligence provided before the mission starts will become reduced. Therein lies the challenge.
After each mission briefing, players are brought to the mission planning screens. You can chose to load the mission defaults and jump right into the action, or you can plan your mission.
If you chose the latter, you will get to select the members of your team for the particular mission and their kit. Gun nuts will love the veritable smorgasbord of lethal killing tools at their disposal. When equipping your squad you have fifty-seven guns to select from. Counter Strike has nothing on this.
Characters within the game have areas of specialty. As you complete missions their skills improve and they become more valuable to you. Your teammates in the game are not throwaway generic non-player characters (NPC). It is important to manage risk effectively and watch their backs. You don't want to start later missions with an inexperienced team. An experienced demolition expert or sniper might come in handy later.
Adding to this tantalizing mix is the multi-player component. Raven Shield offers a great online experience and active community. Unfortunately, Mac versus PC network play is not possible due to Microsoft's proprietary network gaming technology. But you will be able to play with, and against, other Mac users. Players can chose between adversarial or cooperative play. You will be able to hook-up with buddies and make new pals through Gameranger.