Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Raven Shield

Review

posted 4/1/2003 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six has always had a strong following with a gameplay that differs from the quick paced first person shooters that are so prevalent. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six : Raven Shield, the third installment in the series, is a departure from Red Storm’s approach of building their own game from the ground up. This time around they licensed the Unreal engine to give their game a more updated look and infused the gameplay from the series into it. What they have is a good effort that’s starting to show it’s age in terms of gameplay but still very fun with multiple human players.

Raven Shield is a tactical based first person shooter set in the year 2005. As a member of Rainbow, you are assigned the task of taking out terrorist threats by any means necessary. Missions start out in a planning stage where you assign members of the team, equip them, and devise a strategy to maneuver through the level taking out threats and/or rescuing hostages. There are some pre-planned schemes that you can load in in case you don’t want to take the time to plan out the mission yourself and want to get right into the action. Planning the missions is relatively simple with a lot of commands and orders accessible via mouse selections.




The members of Team Rainbow are divided into several categories of specialists. They each have different individual statistics that increase as you go through the game. Even members of the team increase their skills if they are not used in the field. My guess would be that they are participating in training exercises to better themselves. I am happy that Red Storm did implement this in you wouldn’t want members of the team that haven’t been used in a while to be falling behind skill wise. And yes Charlie’s favorite Rainbow, Ding Chavez, is in the game.

There are a ton of weapons and many gadgets that you can use to outfit your team as you see fit. All the weapons have their advantages and disadvantages but you have access to a good number of them from the outset. It’s also the first time in a Rainbow Six game that you get to see the weapons on screen. The models are average and nothing too impressive but they are there if you want to visually know what weapon you are using. You can also switch to the traditional weaponless view if you would rather not have the weapon hinder your sight.

As you move about through the level your crosshairs expand and contract to show you how accurate you are. When you are prone and still you have the best shot. Running around will produce a spray of bullets that could go anywhere but where you want to shoot. With that you learn to take it slow and easy insuring that you try to get an accurate shot as possible.


Some orders can be given by the usage of the mouse and Use key. You can order one of your teammates to open the door if the door icon shows up near the center bottom of the screen. Also pointing straight down and pressing the use key will call your teammates to fall in if they are holding in another position. Go commands to other squad members are easily done by a push of the key and when you are at the waypoint to call a group to go in you’ll get a nice easy pop up message telling you to do so along with the appropriate key. This relieves the burden of trying to remember where and who to call in. Ordering around other squads and teammates is pretty simple and you can be pretty effective without having to memorize a lot of keys.

With the one-shot one kill mentality you’ll be using the peek option a lot more. Raven Shield also includes a fluid posture mode where by your mouse will because your peeking control. When you hold down the fluid posture button you can move your head around in a more lateral direction mimicking stretching your neck to look around. Double tap on the button will snap your view back into place. It’s a nice touch and a useful feature when you want to control how much you want to peek out rather than using the peek button.

Another great addition is the ability to open doors at different degrees. Using the mouse wheel you can open the door just a crack, swing it wide open, or any amount in between. This is a great way to peek inside to see if there are any tangos and close the door shut quickly if you find some. I’ve used this feature a lot so as to not endanger myself when I sense the enemy on the other side with the heart beat sensor.

Movement is, of course, dependent on your stance. A vertical stance enables you to run quickly but will produce the most noise and inaccurate reticule. Crouching down will give you a lower profile and little less sound when moving quickly. A nice little caveat of this is if you walk backwards your movement will be slow and your view will bounce around like in real life. You can also lay flat on the ground to take up a sniping position. What’s missing and has always been missing from the series is the ability to jump or climb over obstacles. I’ve never understood why Red Storm left this out as even a minor jump or climb would’ve made it a lot more realistic. There were many times where I just wanted to climb over a table or jump over to duck behind but you’re left with running around it. Even a dive key would’ve been a welcome addition as there were also a few times where I was surprised by the enemy and wanted to quickly dive to the left or right of me and out of the way of his gun barrel. While it was a minor inconvenience to be missing these features in the first one, it should’ve made it in by the third chapter.


Good planning and precise timing leads with well-placed shots leads to mission success. Going gung ho and trying to run through the level guns a blazing will usually get you and your team eliminated. It’s these executions of these well-planned missions that make the game fun. A good example is busting into a room full of terrorists from two fronts surprising them while being careful not to get caught in friendly fire as you engage the enemy. Your adrenaline rises as you clear the room of terrorists and hope that none of the hostages get killed. When the plan works to perfection the feeling you get is a nice job well done and great satisfaction that it all came together. When hostages die and the mission fails multiple times, it can lead to frustration as there is no save point. I’ve had a few tries on the fifth mission near the tarmac where I would always lose a hostage in the last room where the last of the terrorists are held up. Needless to say I didn’t enjoy starting the level over and over again.




With the move to the Unreal engine, the game does look improved over previous Rainbow Six games. The character models are a lot smoother and they move very well. You’ll see your members crouch down in a very natural looking position and taking a look around their surroundings for tangos. The textures in the game are also well done giving a very nice look to the models and surfaces. It's certainly the nicest looking of any of the Rainbow Six games. The effects from the grenades and flashbangs are top notch with a nice blur after effect when you are affected by a flashbang.

The use of the rag doll effects system does offer some humorous views of dead terrorists. Having them slump over in very unnatural positions does take away the realism factor a little bit as you wouldn’t see a tango doing a gymnasts’ backwards bend with arms sprawling out everywhere. You won’t get those crazy body flying motions you see in Unreal Tournament 2003 as the game’s one shot one kill aspect and slumping bodies negates any of those effects. Either way it is nice to see some different death animations and poses when you take someone down.




The AI teammates are competent and will defend themselves pretty well most of the time. I had no problems trusting that my CPU squad mates would make good decisions and eliminate any threat I was not seeing. There were a few instances where they did just stand there as I was taken down by gunfire with the terrorist in plain site but those were few and far between. The terrorists do exhibit some forms of self-preservation hiding behind obstacles in some cases. I’ve also experienced terrorists walking slowly and scanning the area when they heard my footsteps. While most of the AI consists of them being in one place or performing guard duties, they will give you a fight if you’re not quick to take them down.

Most of the missions are terrorist elimination that can include hostage rescues or disabling a destructive device. Some may like that not much has changed in terms of mission objectives while others will clamor for more that the usual. I fall somewhere in the middle whereby I love the tried and true mission objectives but also yearn for something new. Also the levels are nothing too new and some will be familiar to those that have played the past games. For a bit of change some missions will show cut scenes before and or after the mission giving you a little break from just popping in and out of the level.


The use of sound in Raven Shield helps enhance the effect of suspense. Being silent is a key element but ambient noises play a good part in the game. It is rather funny that all the terrorists speak English when calling for help or asking who’s there. When entering different rooms, the materials and size that comprise the room can affect the way your weapons sound. Echoes and reverberations can radiate in a small sized steel room changing the way it sounds over standing in an open field and firing. You’ll hear gunfire sounds bounce to you from other rooms mimicking how they would sound if they were in different environments. The power of the Steyr AUG can be heard if you have a good sound system. And 3D Audio with EAX can also help amplify the effects with sounds coming at you from the front and rear. Red Storm has done a good job in the audio department with Raven Shield.

Multiplayer is where this game does shine though. The series continues with having great multiplayer cooperative gameplay. Having AI teammates is ok, but when you stick a few humans into the mix then you’ll have a great time hunting down terrorists. Using an Internet voice application such as Game Voice or Roger Wilco you can shout commands to your friends or listen to them curse as a terrorist shoots them in the back. Raven Shield does offer the traditional deathmatch along with bomb and hostage scenarios. An escort mission is also included. As with other games in the series there are numerous server options to tailor the game to your liking. For me, co-op though is where it’s at and one of the best reasons to purchase this game with a few friends.




I played the game on an AMD 2200+ with an Ati All-In-Wonder 9700 Pro with 512MB of ram. The game ran well overall but I did experience the occasional stutter. I’ve read of problems where the frame rate would drop to unbearable levels when your squad mates were in action but I can’t say I’ve ever come across that. I also haven’t experienced any crashes so that’s a plus.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Raven Shield is a worthy successor and addition to the Rainbow Six line. While it’s not nearly a big leap in terms of gameplay from the previous two, the improved graphics, impressive sound, and fun multiplayer makes this game a good addition to your library. A few flaws do exist that keeps it from being a top tier title but I would still recommend this game to fans of the series, genre, or those looking for some great multiplayer co-op action.





B
A worthy successor to Rogue Spear, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Raven Shield does have some flaws and gameplay that's starting to get a little old. Even so it's still fun in certain spots and multiplayer is still blast to play.