Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six
Move aside, Quake; bend over, Duke Nukem. Rainbow Six is taking over. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six is here and there is no stopping this game from becoming the best game of 1998/1999. This is a first-person shooter like no other; it takes brains, brains, and more brains to master this wicked, realistic covert operations game.
When the game starts, you are in a group of twenty highly skilled operatives of different nationalities (hence the name Rainbow). You are presented with 16 missions that take you around the world killing tangos (bad guys). You must be briefed on the mission parameters, decide who will go on the mission, equip your shooters, and make a detailed plan of how you will handle the assault once your team is in place. Red Storm Entertainment has also provided multiplayer options for the Internet, which makes this game unlimited in gameplay. Just remember that this is not some make-believe world where you can run in with all guns blazing, because if you do, you will find yourself staring at the ceiling while blood pools around you as you gasp your last dying breath. These are real-life missions that require you to think before you act. The fate of innocent hostages rests in your hands. If you run in thinking like Quake, boy, you're one dead piece of meat and you deserve every bit of what you get. And for all you rookies out there, Rainbow Six has a training area where you can learn to shoot, blow things up, and learn all basic commands of the game. I highly recommend it, because the tangos take no names and love to kill the hostages. If that happens, you might as well have stayed home and watched Patriot Games.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
In Rainbow Six you use the mouse and keyboard simultaneously. It does take some getting used to, but there is no better way to run the game. You shoot with your left mouse button; the right mouse button combined with the Up Arrow key makes you run, "0" on the keypad opens doors and picks locks. The Delete key changes magazines in your gun, Insert and Home keys give commands to your different teams, and F1 changes views. Once you master these commands, the game runs like an action movie straight from Hollywood except that people really run out of ammunition and die. If you have devised a bad operational plan, you can feel it coming apart at the seams when you start to hear your teammates dying all around you. Your adrenaline starts to really pump once the mission is under way. You become nervous, not knowing what is around the next corner, and you feel desperate to get all the hostages out alive. I have never felt this way playing a game before, and now understand some of what Hostage Rescue Teams go through during life-threatening situations. I have been waiting for a realistic game like this for some years, and I can honestly say the wait was worth it.
I have never in my gaming career seen such outstanding graphics. When your team assaults an embassy, you see its lush grounds and beautiful hedges. The building is a masterpiece, with towering columns, fine wood double doors, and a sparkling fountain that you can wade through. And that is just the outside! Every effort has been made to make the buildings and grounds look as real as possible, and the developers at Red Storm have gone way beyond the call of duty for this sweet little game. Once inside the embassy, you see rich carpeting, a beautiful Steinway piano, spiraling staircases, libraries loaded with books, an office complete with computer, bedrooms with king size beds, and awesome crystal chandeliers.
Okay, onto the graphics of the people. Two words for you: kick-ass, kick-ass, and even more kick-ass. Your team of eight shooters wears black BDUs, Kevlar vests, Adidas GS-G9 assault boots, black balaclavas, and any other piece of equipment that real-life Hostage Rescue teams wear. Everything is so realistic that just writing about it I can't wait until I'm done with this review so I can go play some more. When your shooters are ready to assault the embassy, they all gather outside the door; if you turn and look at them, you will actually see them breathing and see all their facial expressions to boot. I don't know how Red Storm did it, but I'm on my knees thanking them for bestowing this mighty gift upon me. When you get to the action sequences, your men run, climb, kneel, toss grenades, pick locks, and blow doors open with exceptional realism. Now for the tangos (bad guys). Depending on what mission you play, the tangos will look and dress differently; some wear masks to cover their faces and some don't care if you see their faces because they really just want to put a bullet in your head. If you happen to wound a tango, he will either drop to his knees and surrender (not likely, you terrorist scum) or run away from you. If your shooters take too long getting to the tangos, they just might kill all your hostages, I've seen this and it is not pretty. I refuse to tell you more about the graphics; you must see this masterpiece on your computer to fully appreciate what I'm telling you.
Yeeee Haaaaw! Man, the audio just rocks in this game. I never thought that someone could duplicate the sound of empty ammo shells hitting the floor, or the sound of a magazine being changed in your weapon. Spank me for doubting. When your team starts the assault, each member checks in on their radios "In position." When a team member goes down, you hear in your ear piece "Man down! Man down!" When you've gotten to the hostage, you hear "Escorting precious cargo." Man, what realism! The sounds of the gunfire are very realistic; same goes for the grenades and the explosions of the door charges. The audio is so good that it will totally immerse you in the game, which has never happened to me before playing any other wimpy game out there.
Windows 95/98, Pentium 166MHz (200MHz highly recommended), 100 MB hard drive space, 16 MB RAM (32 MB preferred), Direct3D compatible hardware acceleration recommended, SoundBlaster 16 compatible, 4X CD-ROM drive, 28.8kbps or faster for internet play. Visit www.redstorm.com for a complete listing of supported hardware.
Red Storm has put together a very nice user manual that explains every detail of the game. I found the section on multiplayer options to be very informative; the same goes with the section on how to plan a mission, which is vital for successful operations. As far as the weapons and commands go, I found the training section inside the game teaches you a lot faster than reading the manual and I've always been a hands-on training type of guy. I do recommend reading about the different attributes of each characters and what jobs they are best suited for. You don't want an electronic wiz leading point on a mission. Other than that, you must train, train, and train, and only then will you lead successful operations.
Before I get to my bottom line, I want to tell you about the multiplayer options in the game. I have been playing Rainbow Six now for about a month and I've found playing on the Internet is an awesome way to play the game. You can't believe how much fun it is to match wits against another team of human players. You can play cooperative, where you go through the game missions with a team of human players working together; you can play adversarial, where it's you against them; or you can play capture the hostage. Either way, it is a great way to spend a Friday night.
GO OUT AND BUY THIS GAME RIGHT NOW. DO NOT HESITATE. BREAK OUT THE WALLET, RUN, DRIVE OR TAKE THE BUS TO THE NEAREST GAME DEALER. I'm not kidding when I say this -- Rainbow Six is the most realistic, challenging, and fun game to play that was ever made (in my opinion). I won't try to compare it to Quake, Doom, or Tomb Raider. Why try, when those games look and play like little kiddy games? This is the real deal: this is Hostage Rescue at its finest. So on that note, gentle reader, I have decided to give the game a score of 97/100. And the award for best video game of the year goes to Rainbow Six.
P.S. Come and find me on-line at the Microsoft Internet Gaming Zone and I'll give you a Double Tap to the head.