Back when SpecOps: Rangers Lead the Way came out, it suffered from a number of problems. Zombie Interactive, the developer, persevered and churned out a number of patches for SpecOps that really smoothed it out. However, one still got the feeling that it needed some improvement, and the lack of multiplayer in the face of other competing products was a big hindrance.
The add-on expansion to SpecOps, Ranger Team Bravo, was supposed to solve those problems while providing more to play with. All of the features that were put into the patches, many suggested by players, came with the new add-on - features like being able to outfit your two rangers to whatever you wanted (within reason); putting your enemies in preset positions as well as randomized locations; mouse and gamepad support; and a lot of 3D-card support, including individual support for Direct3D and 3Dfx modes as well as high-resolution Voodoo 2 textures. While all that is nice, it isn't much that you couldn't download already.
Ranger Team Bravo includes three new campaign areas with three missions for each. The locales for the missions are Bosnia, Vietnam, and Iraq, in that order. Unfortunately, because of the way the game is set up, you have to complete the Bosnia campaign before you can play the Vietnam campaign. While normally this sort of campaign structure might make a certain amount of sense, the fact that the Bosnia campaign takes place in modern day and the Vietnam campaign in 1968 (with the Iraq campaign jumping back to modern day again) makes for a rather strange chronological arrangement. What's worse is that despite the fact that I managed to complete the three Bosnian missions, I was unable to go on to Vietnam. Only by downloading a cheat that allows you access to all the missions (and not a patch) was I able to go on to Vietnam and Iraq. Other players have apparently reported similar problems.
The campaigns are no cakewalks, either; they are extremely difficult, even on the easier levels, and a few have some rather nasty time constraints. One nice thing about the new campaigns is that the audio cues are still as good as ever. The graphics are done up to the SpecOps standard, although the engine is starting to show some wear. SpecOps' interface is still not very intuitive, even with the new mouse functions. Many of the arcade-like elements, such as picking up goodies from rapidly vanishing corpses, are still there, though the AI is a bit smarter - you can no longer use your Ranger buddy to "move up" and blow away the enemy while being ignored. Then again, the AI still has the ability to miraculously shoot through the sides of solid objects (while you can't), so some things still need fixing.
Of course the big addition to SpecOps is the multiplayer module. Like other free online services, Ranger Team Bravo comes with a program that allows you to log into a lobby and peruse the selection of games or host your own on a number of different channels. Four types of multiplayer games are offered (over the Internet or on a LAN): deathmatch (free-for-alls), team deathmatch (team vs. team), cooperative missions (play a game mission with friends), and team vs. team missions (teams on either side during a mission). The player hosting the game can set the minimum and maximum numbers of players in a game (six is the engine maximum unfortunately), how many AI reinforcements to allow, kill and time limits, and lives per player.
As in the single-player game, you are given not one but two Rangers to work with, so in essence a maximum of 12 Rangers can be running around at any one time. Deathmatches can be played on any of the game's mission levels as well as seven specific deathmatch levels. The mission coop and team play scenarios are perhaps the most fun if you can get players who know what they are doing (and don't start shooting at you or their own Ranger buddy). Ping times don't seem to kill you as much, and in many instances the games are pretty smooth, even over the Internet.
Multiplayer games are very rough around the edges, however. Once one of your criteria, say in a deathmatch, is met, you are immediately dumped to the tally screen, and after that to a lobby, where you have to physically jump back into the game if you still want to play. An even bigger complaint is the fact that you are respawned usually right where you died, which is typically where everyone else respawns. One favorite tactic is to just pick guys with automatic weapons (or any kind of rapid-fire weapon), immediately run away from the spawning area, pick a nice position, and just start laying down fire in that general area. Once your opponent dies he'll magically respawn close by, and you can easily rack up some kills. Typically the other players are shooting at each other in close quarters, so toss in a few grenades for good measure. Deathmatches therefore turn into close-range slugging matches that require little brains or skill to be successful.
So in the end, Ranger Team Bravo is a bit disappointing. If it came out a month or two after SpecOps, Ranger Team Bravo might have been a real plus. With all of the similar games out these days with much better multiplayer faculties and gameplay to boot, it's hard to justify buying Ranger Team Bravo, even as an add-on, unless you're really hooked - and I mean hooked - on SpecOps. There are about ten other people (15 if you're lucky) waiting on the SpecOps servers who share the same addiction every night.