An ambitious project, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six tries to marry the components of a good action game with a high level of realism. In doing so, it combines two primary aspects. The first is the planning stage. In this stage the player chooses teams from one to four, and squad members for each team also ranging from one to four but with a maximum total of eight characters selected. Each character has skills’ categories and some are specialists in areas such as recon, demolitions, electronics etc. In addition you must choose each character’s weapons and armor. After the selection, you must plan out the mission on a 2D map via waypoints. You can hold teams at certain points by go-codes and indicate certain actions as well as change the rules of engagement among other things. The go-codes are exceptionally useful as you can co-ordinate a team assault by having different teams clear a room from different entry points. The second stage is the execution. Depending on how good the plan is, the execution can go very quickly – I’ve completed some in less than a minute – with minimal casualties. However, a perfect execution can be very tricky. Firstly, the realism dictates a one shot one kill mentality, a shot to the head denotes a kill for you and your enemies whilst a shot in a less lethal area will render you wounded. Moreover, the friendly AI can be extremely irritating as they sometimes get stuck following you around or worse yet, an entire team can get stuck in a small corridor – this can get extremely frustrating. But when a mission goes well it is particularly rewarding. Especially if you don’t like losing men – but I must add, at higher difficulty settings, you will have casualties. There is good replay value as one can try various strategies and perfect them by moving up the difficulty settings. Moreover, one can choose to play some missions in a “lone-wolf” style. Furthermore the multiplayer was quite good but quite hard when you first went on. I remember playing it when I was still on a 56k modem and it ran pretty smoothly but I also remember dying frequently and quickly initially because of the realism and because players were already quite good. In summary, Rainbow Six was an impressive undertaking and a classic despite some irritating aspects such as the realism and the unpredictable AI. It combines action and strategy quite well and provides the framework for one of the – if not the – greatest tactical shooter franchises ever concieved.
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