Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Lockdown E3 2005 Hands-On

We quite literally take the developers of Rainbow Six: Lockdown on at their own game.

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This afternoon really wasn't the best time to try to get hands-on with the Xbox version of Rainbow Six: Lockdown at Ubisoft's E3 booth. Not only was every copy of the game on display being used for four-on-four tournament play, but there was also a large line of people waiting for autographs from Korn surrounding the Lockdown area. Nevertheless, we managed to get into a couple of games against Ubisoft representatives toward the end of the day, and we're pleased to report that Lockdown's new multiplayer features (the optional ones that use persistent characters, that is) show a lot of promise.

The "retrieval" multiplayer game that we were playing required us to pick up a canister and deliver it to a depot station. Doing so earned our team 10 points, while we earned a single point every time we managed to kill an opposing player. The map that we were playing on was the perfect size for eight players and was set in a dock area complete with warehouses, lots of elevation changes, and a crane that players using the engineer class could use to open up and block off one of the routes through the map.

The first time we played, we were using a combat medic character who had no training points that we could use to improve her skills. The result was that our machine gun wasn't terribly accurate, it took us ages to reload, and we weren't even able to wear body armor. Fortunately, we earned some points in our first game even though we lost, so we spent those on acquiring the light armor skill and on improving our machine gun reloading times, accuracy, and damage. We're told that the finished game will feature approximately 50 different skills, many of which will be specific to certain character classes.

We were also told that level-1 players will be able to compete with level-40 (the current level cap) players without feeling like they're good for little more than target practice. We're not sure that's entirely accurate, to be honest with you, but we'd be surprised if Lockdown doesn't ship with matching features that make mismatches like that very unusual.

One of the best things about the retrieval game we played is that, because the canister carrier is only able to use a puny pistol when he or she runs for depot station, it encourages teamplay. The persistent character system seems like it'll prove popular with players who plan to team up with the same friends over and over again, while casual players will most likely stick with the more generic online play in which they all essentially control the same character type. Either way, Rainbow Six: Lockdown looks like it'll be a lot of fun when it ships later this year. We'll bring you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.

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