Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six series has always been known amongst first person shooter aficionados as a tactical look into the world of modern combat. Featuring squad based gameplay and realistic combat (no respawning), the Rainbow Six series sits diametrically opposed to the Halos and Unreal Tournaments of the world.
The latest iteration, Rainbow Six Lockdown, however, sees developer Red Storm making the series more Rambo and less Rimbaud, as they change the emphasis from tactics to twitch shooting in order to make the game more accessible to casual gamers.
As a single player affair, Rainbow Six Lockdown sees the player controlling a squad of elite special troopers as they tackle a terrorist force known as the Global Liberation Front. Blaming Third World problems on Western powers, the Global Liberation Front has gained access to a deadly bio chemically manufactured virus named "Legion" and threatens to unleash it on civilians unless demands such as eliminating Third World debt are met.
Taking the role of Ding Chavez, players will lead their squad of four soldiers through a series of cityscapes, battling through claustrophobic buildings and wide open roads. Graphically, the scenery in Rainbow Six Lockdown is well rendered, with realistic looking buildings and well designed layouts. Adding to the realism are nice touches like destructible items, and the judicious use of scripted events helps bring the combat zones to life. Unfortunately, this stands in stark contrast to the way characters are rendered. Enemy movement in particular is jerky and during the game you'll often see terrorists that seem to have taken a break from a ferocious firefight to slide around as if on iceskates.
Often however, the player won't be able to admire the scenery as alternative vision modes form an important part of the gameplay. Pressing the white button on the Xbox controller cycles through night vision, infra red and normal vision modes, and each is useful for different purposes. Pressing the back button also activates the heartbeat sensor, which allows the player to see outlines of enemies through walls. This removes much of the suspense when bursting through doors or entering new rooms with your team, which is the foundation of much of the gameplay.
Team members can be outfitted individually and the group control mechanics offer a great deal of depth. Support characters can be instructed to follow, investigate or hold positions by pressing the black button. Most instructions, however, will be issued with contextually sensitive button presses. For example, highlighting an open area and pressing B will move your troops there. On the other hand, point at a closed door, and the same button press will order them to open the door. And with a few button presses more you'll be able to issue quite elaborate instructions such as telling your team to enter a room by either setting explosives, ramming the door with a hammer or politely turning the door handle before throwing a flash grenade to blind enemies or running in guns blazing.
In addition to this, some missions see the player take control of Dieter, the resident sniping expert. From circling helicopters or from rooftop vantage points, the player will snipe enemies offering cover to their allies. As a mini game, these interludes lack depth but are a welcome change of pace. The feeling of protecting your troops by taking out enemies is also quite tangible.
Overall, Rainbow Six Lockdown does a good job of making the player feel like part of a Hollywood movie about modern warfare, from the level of realism and available weapons to the team dynamics and characters. For fans of squad based shooters, Rainbow Six Lockdown is a good purchase, although if you prefer a slightly more arcade like take on the genre, Freedom Fighters is an often overlooked classic, while those who prefer more realistic team combat would do well to pick up Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow.
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