copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Lockdown



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Impact: Forgettable

Introduction


Rainbow Six Lockdown is the latest in the extremely tactical shooter series. To weak-hearted fans of the Rainbow series (if such exist): please look the other way. The changes explained here might hurt you to the core of your soul. However a change in style alone, although important, is not enough to make a game bad. Maybe for those who like things exactly how they are, but for the rest the game has to fall a little further. Rainbow Six Lockdown falls a little further.


GAMEPLAY


For those who don't yet know, Rainbow Six is a world-wide anti-terrorist unit from Tom Clancy's book. It's more secret than the Russian rocket blueprints, more elite than European hackers and is only called in when international terrorism creates very difficult situations.


The story has never been Rainbow's best feature. It's usually there to create a reason for you to take arms and kill people. It's always along the same lines: terrorists from some new strange organization have taken someone hostage or placed a bomb and threaten to blow something up. Usually, some of these terrorist acts have a weak connection with each other. That connection plays some sort of substitute for bosses that other action games have. And once again, in R6 Lockdown, the story throws in a new and dangerous virus that's been stolen by bad people from bad people and ...well, who cares anyway? Let's rather look at what makes Rainbow Six a Rainbow Six.


The gameplay has put on a whole new suit this time around. Many of the important tactical features, which the sophisticated Rainbow public has come to appreciate, are not available anymore. They've been sacrificed to make the game user-friendly. Before each mission the player is given the possibility to choose out of several weapons. There are many of them ranging from pistols to grenade launchers, but not as many as some of us whish to see. Many of these weapons are given the same statistics and one wonders what the point of choosing then is? Weapons can be equipped with mods like the silencer or a red dot scope. There are also grenades and miscallanious mission tools


The player gets assigned two to three other Rainbow operatives before each mission that he will be able to command during the operation (yes, no more choosing out of the Rainbow army. The experience gaining bit is also gone). After a brief explanation of mission objectives, the player is thrown into action (yes, no mission planning this time either).


The controls and the interface have all been simplified, and Rainbows are now easier to command, although not to control. Orders can be given to team members to breach doors, throw grenades, clear rooms and scout around corners. Before each breach a go-command has to be given. The in-game command system is a definite improvement over the last games. On the other hand, overall, this system does not make Rainbows easier to control because it doesn't compensate for the AI (artificial intelligence). A new AI feature allows your team mates to automatically take positions in different places in each room using cover. When near a corner or a pillar, Rainbows will stand behind it and automatically peak out, sometimes the wrong way. This can, in theory, be seen as an improvement. However, this feature takes away a great deal of control over your team and causes awkward situations when your teammates stand in your line of fire or get shot by the enemy because they chose a bad location to stand. Of course there is a possibility to order them to hold back, but then they aren't there to help you, and in that case, what's the point of them being there in the first place?


Other AI, on the other hand, certainly has taken a drop into the obyss. Enemies are, generally, not shooting even when the player runs out of ammo two meters in front of them in plain sight. When they do shoot, they tend to miss a lot. Maybe that's why there are so many of them. At the end of each mission a good 70 tangos will be taken down. And I'm talking about the "normal" difficulty level. On "hard" there are a lot more of them. Well, their amount doesn't make the game much harder. And above all of that easiness, drop a special abilty of the player to see through walls. The vision only has a limited battery life, but it's more than enough to make the game a piece of cake to pass (the battery is instantly rechargable, by the way).


VISUALS AND PERFORMANCE


This is the highlight of the whole game. Visuals can be tuned to look no worse than games like Half Life 2. There are not much complex shadowing involved, but the detail, the effects and the lighting are all nicely polished. Glas shatters realistically. A great plus is also the fact that even the low-end machines will be able to enjoy the game on relatively high graphical settings.


SOUND


A little controversial is the sound issue. I experienced problems when footsteps and some other sounds were breaking and slowing down the game. Other than that, the sound effect is of high quality and varied. For example, in large spaces, footsteps sound differently than in confind spaces. Just when when it was recovering its reputation, the voice acting pushes the sound off a cliff. On many occasions the voices sound false; not transferring what the text wants them to sound like. On other occasions the text itself is terribly cheesy.


VERDICT


The game is a total change from its relatives, and yet that's not the reason why it's unsuccessful. Its problems are in its bugs, horrific AI, strangely easy gameplay and lackluster acting and just generally cheap feel of a Hollywood under $100.000 budget action movie. Rainbow's six fan's worst nightmare. On the other hand for a casual gamer, the simplicity of Lockdown might be a good thing.


Subjective notes


This is the part where I let myself loose. I've tried to give the game a somewhat honest score from the prospective of an average gamer. However if I were to give it a score as myself, from a Rainbow 6 fan point of view, the game wouldn't get higher than a 4. I was outraged to find the whole planning system gone. Yes, I wasn't using it. Yes, I would usually just lead each team personally, and yet when it's not there I feel like something's lost. Weird cheap-action-movie style communication, and hordes of heavily armed, totally stupefied, highly epileptic enemies...No sniper rifles!............Why?!