Rainbow Six: Lockdown E3 2005 Hands-On

We're shocked and awed at E3 2005 by Gameloft's latest counterterrorist oeuvre.

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Rainbow Six: Lockdown is the latest of Gameloft's titles based on Tom Clancy's best-selling novel. This time around, the Rainbow Six team has been called in to quell a large-scale terrorist movement, using any means necessary. Splinter Cell-style news reports update you on plot developments; however, as always, these are pretty dispensable. Lockdown's gameplay will be familiar to anyone who played last year's excellent Rainbow Six 3, for Series 60 phones. This is also a squad-based real-time strategy game, in which you'll have to take out enemies by stealth or by force. Some great vehicular sequences have also been added, and these are much more action-oriented. Lockdown is shaping up to be a monster hit.

You'll start the game controlling only a pair of operatives, but your squad will quickly grow. You command your troops by moving a cursor to the desired location. Clicking on enemies from afar will prompt your soldiers to open fire; clicking on hostile units from close range will yield some knife action. You can also toss flashbangs or grenades at your foes, either from a distance or when opening a door. This gameplay may sound relatively simple, and for the most part it is. However, you'll have to learn enemy patrol patterns and exploit them, lest you set off alarms and fail your mission. If Rainbow Six 3 is any indication, hostage lives will often depend on your stealth tactics.

The main action is shown from an isometric perspective and simply looks excellent. The sprites are beautiful and detailed, but the engine still seems simple enough to be highly portable. There's little doubt that BREW games are catching up to Series 60, in terms of graphical quality. As was the case throughout E3 2005, our test unit's speaker proved too small to cut through the show's ambient noise. We'll have to wait to get an impression of Lockdown's sound.

Early on in the game, you'll have to pilot a military copter and take out scores of terrorists, many of whom have been armed with rocket launchers. A single hit from a rocket launcher can turn you into expensive scrap metal, so you'll have to be quick on the trigger finger. A certain amount of auto-aim has been implemented, but you'll have to at least guide the cursor in the direction of your foes.

Rainbow Six: Lockdown is already extremely enjoyable, whether you're on foot or in a vehicle. Whether or not you played its Series 60 predecessor (and, if you have a BREW phone, chances are you haven't), you'll want to give Lockdown a spin. We yearn to play this game when it launches later this year.

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