Finally, my kind of action
Originally published in April 2000
Name: Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear
Genre: Action/Tactical Strategy
Format: PC on CD-ROM
Developer: Red Storm Entertainment, Inc.
Publisher: SouthPeak Interactive LLC
Requires: Pentium 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, Windows 95/98, 3D Accelerated Video Card
Retail Price: $50
Street Price: $30
One game has dominated my time the past few months and I feel compelled to share my experience with computer game players everywhere. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear represents the top echelon of the action genre. The game has earned enough praise and recognition to be nominated for the best game in its category for 1999. I personally find Rogue Spear to be superior to Quake or Unreal Tournament. I know for many that constitutes blasphemy, but I encourage everyone to consider my heretic view.
Rogue Spear is the sequel to 1998’s highly touted Rainbow Six. When first released, Rainbow Six caused a stir in the game development community because of its innovative use of stealth in an action game. Rainbow Six effectively changed the rules for action games and lead to the development of several clones of the tactical squad-based action game. In 1998, action games followed the successful and market-proven model of Doom and Quake – fast, furious, and frenetic shooting. If it moved you shot it. With Rainbow Six stealth and planing are the primary objectives. If any shooting has to be done it comes after carefully moving into position for a clean shot. The key is this concept of the one-shot kill. No longer are gamers required to shoot an enemy 30 times to eliminate the threat. Now, one carefully placed shot is enough.
The premise of the Rainbow Six titles is simple enough. The game player assumes the command of an elite group of anti-terrorist specialists in various missions around the world. The group is highly secret, so much so that the Rainbow Six team does not officially exist. This means that failure is not an option. Using the very latest in weapons and equipment, you lead your squads on missions to free hostages, steal information, and stop terrorist activities. The campaign in Rogue Spear involves stolen nuclear weapons and an unhinged terrorist who plans to use them.
While the original Rainbow Six was innovative, it also suffered from some problems in execution, especially with regard to the artificial intelligence of the computer controlled enemy. In Rogue Spear the artificial intelligence has been tweaked and the interface refined to give the player a much deeper and impressive experience.
The key to a successful campaign in Rogue Spear lies squarely in the planning of each mission. Players can adopt the pre-canned mission plan from headquarters or they can create their own plan of attack on the planning map. With four possible squads for most of the missions, players have control over how the mission will play out. Combining reconnaissance, assault, sniper and demolition squads, players can meet mission objectives in many different ways. If the plan is good enough, the computer AI can even control your squads and accomplish your mission without your direct participation in the action phase of the game. But what’s the fun in that.
The action phase of each mission relies more on the tension of an unknown enemy than on the frenetic pace of other action titles. As the squads make their way through the mission objectives using your plan, the sense of imminent danger is palatable. Using terrific sound effects, including radio chatter from your team, the player is exposed to a build up of tension until that fateful exchange of gun fire with the enemy. The intensity of searching for the unknown enemy is exhilarating. It is the intensity before any actual shooting takes place that makes Rogue Spear a better action game then Quake or Unreal Tournament.
For those players who prefer action titles because of their multiplayer and Internet capabilities, Rogue Spear again comes through with terrific innovation. For multiplayer Rogue Spear, cooperation is the main focus. You and your squad must complete the mission objectives by cooperating and coordinating tactically. Because each squad member is controlled by a player over the network, the required teamwork is extremely difficult, but very rewarding. Each player assumes a role and more importantly establishes a stake in the mission outcome. This is truly engaging game play.
The graphics in Rogue Spear are exceptional, especially with the advantages of an accelerated video card. The 3-dimensional world rendered during the action phase of the game is interactive and dynamic. Glass breaks, vehicles move, bad guys stop to smoke a cigarette or relieve themselves. The level of realism includes sounds too. My bacon was saved several times because I could hear terrorist footsteps coming down the hall.
Of course, all of this reality greatly changes the feel of the game. This is not a game for the squeamish. The violence depicted is very realistic. Terrorists bleed when they get shot. They yell out in pain. They fall in lumps on the ground. The violence of Rogue Spear does not have the same comic book feel of other action shooter games. Parents should be careful about letting their children play Rogue Spear as the impression on younger children could be disturbing. The ESRB gives the game a Teen rating, but I would grade the level to be more Young Adult.
Over the past 20 years I have played many action games. Some have been good, a few have been great, but most have simply been forgettable. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear is a great action game. It is the thinking man’s action game. Using an innovative game design, good story, and technical excellence, this game delivers a truly fascinating experience. Rogue Spear receives my highest recommendation.