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Review by: Chris Harding
Published: September 28, 1999
Like the Red October, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six snuck out of its harbor in Morrisville, North Carolina last year and took the gaming world by storm. Fittingly, Red Storm, the company founded by the famous author, established itself as the ranking authority in the emerging genre of tactical combat with Rainbow Six. And in just a little over a year’s time, Red Storm is at it again, bringing us the aptly named sequel, Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear.
Like the first game, this sequel follows the storyline depicted in Clancy’s Rainbow Six novels. The plot, which is presented during intermissions, is extremely entertaining, albeit a little complex for action fans. And surely, it would be an error to group this title into the action category, mainly because it focuses as much on strategy and tactics as it does on adrenaline and reflexes. Notwithstanding these added elements, even first-person shooter fans should heed the arrival of Rogue Spear — it’s definitely one of those special games that transcends genre lines.
The term “Rainbow” refers to an anti-terrorist organization made up of the world’s best Special Forces operatives, supposedly funded and under the guidance of the U.S. government. In Rogue Spear, like Rainbow Six, you control and manage this squad of elite soldiers through a series of missions and tactical engagements. There are 18 of these that span across the globe, and all of them consist of some type of rescue operation, although there are a few reconnaissance and infiltration missions — which are rare gems. The levels themselves are more varied and elaborate than before, which can be directly attributed to feedback Red Storm received from their extremely large player-base. Veterans of Rainbow Six, even with the changes, will have little difficulty picking up the controls. Taking more cues from players and critics, the developers have added a few really nice control options, such as the ability to lean right or left, similar to the feature in System Shock 2. I’m always an advocate of giving more control to the player, and while the new lean feature is nice, it’s not enough. And even though you can now lean, duck, hide behind desks and peek around corners, you still can’t jump, crawl or swim. But Red Storm has heard some of the cries for more realism and adapted the weapons used in the offensive to more closely mimic their effects seen in the real world. The most dramatic result seen from this is the new sniper mode, which limits the action to those equipped with sniper rifles and also allows the player to remotely control a sniper’s decisions. The end result is that sniping has a whole new attitude in Rogue Spear and plays a much bigger role than it did before.
While there are marginal upgrades in graphics and in-game tools, the bulk of the remaining new features can be found in the planning interface and styles of play. New to the design is a textured planning map that allows players to see both the mission plan in wireframe and textured mode. The textured mode as seen here, makes planning much easier on beginners and veterans alike. This new feature allows planners to easily plot and delete waypoints and give special orders such as when and where to throw flashbangs or breach doorways without confusion.
As one of the most popular games on Microsoft’s Zone last year, nightly battles of Rainbow Six were commonplace amongst Adrenaline Vault staff. The real-time voice communication and edge of your seat tension made it one of our favorite multiplayer titles. And in Rogue Spear, the multiplayer mode has been given a major face-lift, and the results are a few steps beyond our loftiest expectations. There are tons of new modes and game styles to choose from, and both the cooperative and adversarial styles of play are great fun. In addition to continued Zone, LAN and Direct TCP/IP support, they’ve added MPlayer to the mix as well. I’m happy to report that, unlike so many other titles recently, not only does the multiplayer mode exist, but it is also stable and fairly lag-free.
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