Rainbow 6: Rogue Spear: Black Thorn
|a game by||Red Storm Entertainment, Inc.|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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The last outing in the Rainbow Six/Rogue Spear camp was the distinctly mediocre Covert Operations: just three new single-player missions, no story, a few new weapons, and a daft multimedia guide on 'how to be an anti-terrorist operative'.
Thankfully, Black Thorn sees the Rogue Spear team back on top form, with a set of nine linked single-player missions and six new multiplayer maps.
Another Crazed Megalomaniac
The plot is typically tenuous -some nutter with a grudge against Rainbow is copying famous terrorist actions from history. Your job is to find out who he is and ultimately kill him. The nine new missions are almost universally excellent - big maps, and unbelievably difficult to complete at Elite level. There are so many highlights - mission two takes place on a luxury yacht, and has a multi-level galleried choke point with a staircase bang in the middle that has to be traversed to finish the mission. In the fourth jungle outing, you come under attack almost immediately from patrols. There's an exceptionally hard mission to complete that involves rushing to the top of a tower at the last minute to snipe a bus driver escaping to Somalia. A train bust in Holland has some of the trickiest sniper/team coordination ever. Creep through the metal detectors at Mombasa airport in a recreation of Entebbe, and they go off! (This mission was reworked after the events of September 11 to avoid the final confrontation on the plane itself.) In fact, only one mission disappointed, set in a Thai hospital. Compared with the rest it seemed simple. Especially alongside the final level in Athens, which is near impossible...
Ancient Engine, Great Game
The Rogue Spear engine is looking decidedly long in the tooth, however, especially now our appetites have been whetted by Max Payne. Everything is so angular and bare, though the team has done its best with the tools available. In fairness, the character animations are still among the best of any game in this genre. At one point I burst into a room in the Milan mission and the terrorist jumped onto a table, then collapsed on top of it, limbs hanging over its edge. And the sound is fantastically atmospheric.
Gameplay still rocks for creep-'em-up fans, though terrorists still behave with the intelligence of fishes while being able to pop slugs off like Russian sharpshooters. Which makes it especially satisfying wielding the fabulous new silenced P90 in anger - its rate of fire clears rooms out in pico-seconds. Multiplayer fanatics, on the other hand, will enjoy mowing the opposition down with an M60 machine gun.
If you're a Rogue Spear fan waiting for Ghost Recon, then Black Thorn is expensive for what is effectively an add-on pack - but since it includes the complete game engine, you won't need the original to play, making it an attractive purchase for newcomers, especially those without a hugely powerful machine - if you can stomach the dated graphics.