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Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 (Gamecube)


By Michael Palisano

At long last, Gamecube owners have the opportunity to play Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 on their system. This military combat sim offers more action than previous games while still offering plenty of depth and realism. The streamlined play eschews the planning phase of the previous games and simplifies the control interface. The missions themselves are sophisticated with an engrossing backstory, authentic tactics and real-world weapons that make for an exciting experience. Unfortunately, the Gamecube version lacks the polish seen on other platforms, with lower-resolution models and many of the lighting features absent. Still, it's a decent looking game for the platform. Another big problem is the lack of an online component, a key part of the game's appeal on other systems. Despite these problems, this is still an excellent military shooter that offers plenty of depth and challenge.

Rainbow Six 3 has appeared on numerous platforms over the past year including version for the PC, Xbox and PS2. The Gamecube port isn't as smooth or polished as some of the other editions, the solid gameplay at the game's core remains as appealing and exciting as ever. In 2007, the United Stated is caught in the middle of a deadly global conflict. Terrorists are striking American targets, while the country suffers from a devastating oil embargo. In this unstable situation, even greater acts of terror are in the planning stages. At this critical point, the top-secret Rainbow organization has been called into action. The Rainbows are elite international commandos and each 4-member Rainbow team consists of the best operatives with the best technology. You play as Ding Chavez, and lead a group of four commandos through dangerous 14 missions. Before each mission you are given a quick briefing on your objectives and goals. After receiving your orders, you can equip your team's weapons and tools. These missions have different objectives and you have to make sure you have the right weapons ready. Each team member is given night-vision and heat-source goggles as standard equipment. You can then select from approximately 30 different weapons including sniper rifles, frag or smoke grenades, pistols, and flamethrowers. You can also equip their team with laser-sighted rifles, grenade launchers, heavy or submachine guns and, sniper rifles. Within these main weapons types, there are variants such as sights, thermal-vision, and noise suppressors. Different weapons within each class provide varying levels of accuracy and firepower. Your team can also use other tools such as mines, breaching charges, remote weapons, gas masks, tear gas grenades and more. There's quite an arsenal at your disposal and each weapon is authentic and operates just as they would in real life with realistic recoil and reload times. Each weapon has a limited amount of ammo and requires you to reload when they run out of rounds.

As the team leader you command the other three Rainbows to perform a variety of tasks during each mission. They'll take your lead and go ahead of you, regroup to your position if they fall behind, clear out enemy snipers and provide cover. For example, when you reach a closed door, you can choose to lead the way inside, or command them to go in ahead. You can command them to send to clear out a room, frag and clear, or scan the area for snipers. Team members will follow your commands automatically and perform tasks as soon as you give the orders. You can also issue Zulu commands. You can order the team to Zulu positions and once assembled, the team will perform the task, once you've given them the go-ahead with the code. This allows you to perform another task and stay out of their way of explosives or enemy fire. In addition to combat, many missions also include non-violent tasks such as rescuing hostages. You can command the team to secure the hostages while you take out the terrorists. Rainbow Six 3's interface is remarkably intuitive and transparent, making good use of the Gamecube's controller. The command system is remarkably easy to understand, for example, you need only move your crosshairs over a doorway, then pull up the HUD, and the team will automatically breach the gap and clear out enemies. If you get lost, you can call your map, which usually point you in the right direction. The interface is a much simpler than previous RS titles, yet still offers plenty of flexibility in the field.

The missions are structured logically with intelligently designed maps that require you to complete multiple objectives before successful finishing each level. You usually have to kill multiple enemies, clear out snipers, recover several hostages and reach a certain points. In some areas, you need to sneak by without alerting any guards or enemies to your presence. You can be spotted in several ways. Guards can see you outright, hear you sneaking across the ground. Enemies will also be alerted if they see your shadow. The easiest way to be detected is to fire your weapons recklessly. This will cause an immediate response, setting off a fierce firefight. Each level is large with multiple rooms and areas you'll need to clear and cover. Finding the best path through each mission isn't as simple as it sounds. You may have to go through each mission several times before you discover the best routes. It's important to proceed carefully and think ahead, since rushing in will usually lead to disaster. Most of the game is an exercise in stealth, where you have to get enemies before they're alerted to your presence, but there are several areas that are all-out battles with multiple foes at once. While RS3's early missions are relatively easy, later levels are more difficult with snipers and foes pouring out of what seems like every crevice.

Rainbow Six 3's challenging single player missions are quite intense, and will require a great deal of skill and strategy to complete. It will probably take a lot of time to complete these single player missions. Unfortunately, unlike the other editions of the series, Rainbow Six 3 on the GCN doesn't include any online modes. This is extremely disappointing, though not surprising given Nintendo's minimal online support to date. However, there is at least a decent multiplayer mode supported using a split-screen mode. There aren't that many variations here, and the biggest one is a one-on-one deathmatch, which is disappointing given the depth and sophistication of the online modes on other platforms. The gameplay in split-screen mode is decent, though the frame-rate and level of detail when playing in this mode is severely compromised. This is quite a big problem and makes the Gamecube version of Rainbow Six 3 thus falls a bit short of the other editions.

Another area where the Gamecube seems to fall behind are the visuals. While it looks decent in its own right, the game lacks the polish seen on other platforms. It's low polygon counts mean the character models don't look nearly as sharp as it does on other systems. The lack of detail is also evident in the less-detailed textures, which lack the definition and clarity seen in the superb Xbox edition. It's not all bad news for Gamecube owners, Rainbow Six 3's environments remain quite expansive with both indoor and outdoor locales. The series' trademark attention to detail is still evident in the realistic guns and weaponry throughout the game. However, further problems emerge quickly, with the lack of light sourcing and some other effects quite evident upon direct comparison. While the Gamecube's storage medium works well with most types of games, here the ever-present loading is a major problem, causing a constant interruption that makes it difficult to get into the flow of each mission. Despite these flaws, Rainbow Six 3 is still one of the better looking Gamecube titles on the market, with most of the major elements still very much intact.

While many gamers worried that the console versions would dumb-down the series, the streamlined interface and simpler command structure make this the best playing Rainbow Six to date. The balance has tilted towards action but the series' realism is apparent throughout. The detailed back-story, mission briefings, and real-world tactics make for a deeply engrossing experience. Your missions still require a great deal of planning, so this is far from a mindless shooter. From a visual standpoint, Rainbow Six 3 isn't as polished on the Gamecube as it could have been, but the graphics are adequate enough and get the job done. Unfortunately, the game is also plagued by long load times and the lack of online play is very disappointing, despite a decent split-screen mode. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 isn't the flawless translation many gamers probably hoped for, but it's still a solid title. The gameplay matters most, and once you get over the visuals, you'll find the same engrossing and challenging title that appeared on other systems. Rainbow Six 3 should appeal to Gamecube owners looking for an intense military shooter that offers action, strategy and surprising depth.

Grade: B-

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