Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear Review

The action is still there, and, even more surprisingly, so are many of the frills that make the experience feel genuine.

Ubi Soft has brought the Rainbow Six series to the GBA, and, quite frankly, the results are surprisingly sound. Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear manages to convey the same feeling of deadly tension that its PC counterpart was famous for, and the compromises that were made to make it portable are fairly minor. The action is still there, and, even more surprisingly, so are many of the frills that make the experience feel genuine.

The Rainbow Six series is based on the works of author Tom Clancy, whose fiction is famous for its ultradetailed descriptions of military munitions and procedure and its "insider's" perspective. The name itself refers to a top-secret group of group of commandos and operatives whose services are often enlisted by the governments of the world. They do things that the governments themselves generally feel are a bit too sketchy for them tackle themselves. Given how intrigue-filled Tom Clancy's fictional worlds are, you can bet that Rainbow Six is never at a loss for work.

In any event, the games themselves are squad-based tactical affairs, and the GBA version is no different. You control a group of up to four covert operatives (the exact number varies from mission to mission) and lead them through a variety of missions against a terrorist organization that's been deemed uncomfortably active by the powers that be. As the PC games are played from a first-person perspective, replicating them on the GBA in a satisfactory manner isn't really possible at this point, but the workaround used for Rogue Spear on the GBA works pretty well. The game has been, in effect, made into a top-down tactical shooter, something not entirely unlike classic games like Commando and Ikari Warriors, albeit more reserved and tactical. You're able to assemble your squad from a pool of veterans and recruits, each with varying statistics in the areas of reflexes, health, aim, and stealth. You'll be tempted to simply choose your most powerful characters for every mission, but that's risky business in a Rainbow Six games--once you lose an operative in the field, he or she is gone forever.

Your operatives come in four categories: assault, recon, sniper, and demolition. Assault soldiers are generally fast and strong, and thus good for direct confrontation. Snipers are able to shoot sniper rifles, which allows you to dispatch remote enemies by means of a roving sniper scope. Recon operatives and demolition experts, finally, are better able to disable security devices and disarm explosives, respectively. All these types of operatives are armed, though, so don't expect anyone on your squad to be helpless at any given point. Generally, missions will be focused on the skills of several characters, though there will be a few where you'll only be able to utilize a single operative.

The combat itself is simple enough. When you're near enough to an enemy, crosshairs will appear over him. This is your prompt to shoot. Conversely, if you're fired upon first, red arrows at the edge of the screen will point in the direction of your assailant. Unlike in the PC games, where you die after most shots, you'll have a life bar in this one, so you'll generally be able to take a good few hits before going down. Outside of combat, though, things get a little more complex. The good news is that most of the PC game's functions survived the translation. The bad news is that you have to remember all sorts of complex button combinations in order to use them. Want to scroll through characters? You have to hold down the R and L buttons and hit press B to flip through your squad members. Need to tell your squad mates to stay put? You have to hit L twice. Most everything works this way--opening doors, cycling through weapons, and interacting with objects (doors, bombs, hostages, and so on) all require that you remember the comparatively cryptic button sequences that execute them, and, even after a few sessions, you'll find yourself referring to the manual to get a grip on things. It's all worth it in the end, truth be told, and the game is a much deeper and faithful rendition of the original because of it, so we can't fault it too heavily for its complexity.

In all, Rogue Spear is a pretty robust GBA game--one that will likely take up a good deal of your time if you allow it to. It's quite faithful to its source material--right down to your squad members' voice samples--and it more than manages to re-create the experience of its PC forefather, albeit in a more abstracted form.

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  • First Released Aug 31, 1999
    released
    • Dreamcast
    • Game Boy Advance
    • + 3 more
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • PlayStation
    Though Rogue Spear is in many ways a much better game than its similar predecessor, it too is not without a laundry list of problems.
    8.1
    Average Rating1399 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Pipe Dream Interactive, Ubisoft Milan, Red Storm Entertainment, Saffire
    Published by:
    Red Storm Entertainment, Swing! Deutschland, Ubisoft, MacSoft
    Genre(s):
    Tactical, Third-Person, Action, Shooter
    Theme(s):
    Modern
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Blood and Gore, Violence