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Submitted by Jon Wilcox on August 9 2004 - 17:15

Global terror rears its ugly head once again and Ubisoft sends Team Rainbow into the thick of it in Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow on the Xbox. Protected by a Flak Jacket, TVG goes in for the kill…

I really liked the original Rainbow Six 3 game. I thought that the game played well on the whole, although it was one of the most difficult First-Person Shooters to get into at first. I think that this was primarily down to the fact that not only did you have to worry about what you were doing, but you also had to worry about using your other team members effectively if you wanted to make it through the level alive. This took time to get right, but once you did, the game became more enjoyable to play. As well as that, if you were using the Xbox Voice Communicator to communicate to your team you soon became immersed in the world of terrorism, hostage taking, and bomb disposal.

Anyway, to RS3: Black Arrow. The first thing that I would point out is this â?“ it is still called Rainbow Six 3. In other words, donâ??t expect too many massive improvements in terms of gameplay, graphics or sound. If you didnâ??t like the original, you arenâ??t going to enjoy this. Having said that, the game does offer some pretty cool additions for subscribers of Xbox Liveâ?¦more on those later.

All of the team members from the original game are back, and once again, you play Domingo â??Dingâ?? Chavez. Together with Eddie Price, Louis Loiselle, and Dieter Webber, who form the backbone of your four-man squad, sent in to breach the web of terrorism â?“ wherever it appears. The single player storyline again sees the team track a series of terrorists across the world, and in pure Clancy-esque fashion (it is after all Tom Clancyâ??s Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow), the reasons for the terroristsâ?? action are not clear at first.

Bringing the action closer to home, the first mission takes place in the London Underground, where terrorists have taken a couple of people hostage, and planted a bomb somewhere in the tube station. As usual, you can override the default guns and grenades in your team (and hereâ??s my only hint for the game â?“ always use a gasmask). The mission briefings this time around are much more animated, and you do get the feeling that this is a real briefing by mission leader, John Clark. The voice-over and the visuals in the briefings work together a lot better in Black Arrow, since they use â??CCTV stillsâ?? from the site of the terrorist action point out where key terrorists are hiding out, and where they are keeping the hostages. These shots are animated together with overhead blueprints of the mission area to allow you to gain a fuller picture of the situation that you face.

Like its predecessor, Black Arrow does look good. The visuals are shadowy when needed, and the general atmosphere is quite apt. The visuals convey the â??realâ?? world well, and although they may not rival the super-real graphics of some titles like Doom 3 or Riddick, I feel that they suit the overall style of the game well. One of the things that did annoy me about the game, and for that matter the original RS3 game, were the use of static objects that just sit in the environment. For example, in one of the later levels, the team are trying to make their way through a street that has several parked vehicles on the side of the road. They thing is, that all of these cars must be made from bullet-proof materials, because you just canâ??t shoot the windows, or even damage the bodywork, with your weapons. Itâ??s fair to say that some environment objects can be shot at (fire extinguishers and SOME glass windows), but itâ??s a bit hit and miss, and I think that itâ??s something that does need to be addressed in any future incarnations of RS3 , or indeed RS4. Also, unlike one of Ubisoftâ??s other Clancy licences, namely Splinter Cell, Ding and the team cannot shoot out lights either. I do appreciate that the game is a different genre to the one that Sam Fisher sneaks about in, and that using the shadows is an obvious and integral part of the Splinter Cell series, but it would be nice if the same attention to detail were paid to Rainbow Six too. The environment layout in Black Arrow is something for the developers to be proud of. The outdoor missions are much more open, in the sense that sniper positions can be found virtually anywhere, which cranks up the tension as you go from cover-to-cover, searching not only for tangos on the ground, but elevated one too. And their aims are much improved â?“ so duck and cover. Inside environments, such as the London Underground and Cannes Hotel environments, are quote complex in places, since there are plenty of recesses and stairwells and doors where potential terrorists can emerge.

One of the welcome (if not deadly) additions to the game, are the aerial weapons that the enemies â?“ tangos in armed forces speak, now possess. This is something that I did not expect. I was quite happy going through the streets of Milan, gunning down tangos as I went, when all of a sudden, a barrage of Molotov cocktails and Rocker-Propelled Grenades were launched against myself and the other team members (at one point a single RPG attack wiped out my entire team â?“ I still donâ??t know where that tango was hiding). This leads to you taking a very defensive stance. Going from cover-to-cover was something that recommended before, but in some sections of Black Arrow, especially in the outdoor sections, itâ??s an absolutely mandatory strategy to take.

The developers have also tried to address some of the problems with the voice communicator. I know that during the original Rainbow Six 3, the team would not move no matter how many ways I tried to say â??Moveâ?, and whilst overall performance of the communicator has been improved for Black Arrow, there were still times when I could not get my team to move. But on the plus side, at least they no longer said, â??Copy that Sir, holding positionâ? when I shouted, â??Moveâ? at themâ?¦

One of the nice new additions to Black Arrow are the offline multiplayer modes. Its great to be able to kill terrorists with a friend, but it reduces the tactical side of the game and you are left with a plain multiplayer shooter. Like its predecessor, Black Arrow is sure to appeal to subscribers of Xbox Live, and Iâ??m sure that people will have hours of funs running around in the new environments.

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  • Graphics: 81%
  • Sound: 83%
  • Gameplay: 79%
  • Originality: 87%
  • Longevity: 82%
Overall Score: 8/10
Overall, Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow is a good game that continues where RS3 left off. The single player mode has a good story to weave, and the appearance of the game is a good one. The game is not perfect, with a distinct lack of physics detail to static objects and lights being the main problem. Away from that, the action comes thick and fast, and the upgrade of weapons for the enemies is a good inclusion by the developers. Using the voice communicator really adds another level of immersion to the game. The Xbox Live options are again a key plus for the game, and the inclusion of an offline multiplayer mode should make the non-Live subscribers happy too. The fact that Ubisoft recognises that the game is essentially an expansion pack by making the RRP of the game £19.99, means that if you are a fan of the FPS genre and looking for a bit of a challenge, then Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow may satisfy your Special Ops fantasy.

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