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Review by: Chris Harding
Published: May 12, 2000
Judging the worth of an expansion pack can be a tricky process. By definition these packs are meant to go beyond what its original game had to offer, expanding gameplay, improving graphics and leading us into new realms of gameplay not previously explored. Red Storm Entertainment, the developers behind the popular Rainbow Six series have built themselves a gold mine with the realistic squad-based tactical combat genre. Last year the sequel to Rainbow Six blasted onto our screens and scored big with this reviewer. Following their pattern of releasing add-ons fairly soon following blockbuster releases, Red Storm introduces Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Rogue Spear Mission Pack: Urban Operations, which has got to be one of the longest names in the history of gaming, so I’ll spare you the full listing from here forward. This new offering gives players a huge variety of new play options, thin slices of new gameplay content and a host of new multiplayer modes. Unfortunately the add-on departs from some of the series’ trademarks. In the departing category is a strong storyline, believable artificial intelligence and respectable difficulty levels.
In Urban Operations, team Rainbow takes on terrorists in five different cities around the world — Hong Kong, Mexico City, Istanbul, Venice, and London. At first glance, it seems the amount of new content in the actual game doesn’t prove equal to the large number of words jammed into the title. But after spending some time with Red Storm’s first expansion for its popular Rogue Spear, it becomes apparent that while the mission pack doesn’t provide a huge quantity of new maps, it does include a lot of different ways to play them. The single player experience consists of two campaigns: The first, dubbed Urban Operations, includes the five new maps mentioned above. I was expecting a lot from this campaign, as Red Storm has really hyped the content of these scenarios — urban settings, pedestrian traffic, real-world locations in real-world settings with real-world bystanders. Unfortunately, only the first mission, Iron Comet set in Istanbul, Turkey lives up to the billing. The other five missions, while they do include a higher proliferation of innocents, it’s not what I was expecting.
Virgin Moon, the add-on’s second mission has you rescuing hostages stuck in a London subway, which could have been a real thriller. The mission must be taking place on a Sunday however, as the foot traffic is minimal and other than a few people in and around the ticket booths, there were only enemies to deal with. The obvious intent of adding innocents to the levels, as was attempted valiantly in mission one, is to add a great deal of drama and tension to the experience. Sadly however, because their survival is critical to successfully completing the mission, their inclusion only causes frustration. Simply put, having to deal with terrorists and at the same time ensure the survival of fifty pedestrians is too difficult, especially the way they’ve implemented it with this add-on.
These frustrations are limited somewhat because the amount of innocents in missions three through five become significantly less, the point is however, that Red Storm has gone way overboard with the difficulty of this expansion. And the brevity of the new content, for single player minded folk, ensures that only the hardcore Rogue Spear players will find benefit in this new add-on. The second campaign, called classic missions, consists of five scenarios that were included in Rainbow Six and enhanced with the Rogue Spear feature-set. These scenarios aren’t a big enough additive to warrant much, but do offer long-time fans the chance to relive old memories, or players new to the series a look at the scenarios that started it all.
These critiques however, are specific to the campaign additions to the series. In terms of multiplayer and custom missions, Rogue Spear: Urban Ops offers an entire onslaught of new content. There are eight new multiplayer maps, and most of the single player levels, regardless of their origination, are available in multiplayer mode as well. Not only are there a whole bunch of new environments to play in, there’s new ways to play them as well. Along with the new multiplayer modes introduced in Rogue Spear (lone wolf, terrorist hunt, assault, hostage rescue, and recon) there is a new mode called defend. Defend requires you or your team to hold a base or position against an onslaught of enemies. The new maps combined with the multitude of play styles make multiplayer Urban Operations a lot of fun. The custom missions option, which allows players to manipulate variables in existing missions, creates a near endless amount of options, outcomes and mission objectives. I’ve spent a lot of time with the custom mission feature and still haven’t fully captured the full scope of it. Still I am not completely sold on the value of Urban Operations. The limited amount of new content, mediocre new level design, and incredibly difficult gameplay make me hesitant in offering a recommendation.
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