Military action/tactical shooters have long had a special place in my heart, and no one does better tactical shooters than Ubisoft. Well, you can debate that point, but the fact remainsUbisoft has defiantly garnered a place in the tactical fps hall of fame, and the series that started it all has returned in the form of Rainbow 6: Lockdown.
I remember spending endless nights playing rainbow 6 3 on xbox live with many friends. Wed go all night, till the early morning, and would only quit because of school or work. Then after school or work, we would take a light nap and get back on rainbow 6. It was addictive as hell. So naturally when I popped in Lockdown, I immediately sensed a bit of nostalgia, even though I was playing rainbow 6 3 about a year prior. Unfortunately, the bit of nostalgia lasted only a few minutes.
I booted up the single player campaign, and realized the random bad guy approach, heavily abused in such titles as ID softwares Doom 3, was also heavily abused in this title. Thanks to the increased auto aim in the game though, this didnt seem that bad, until you run into snipers. One hit kill, and they come from random locations, and they are in random numbers. Ouch. My throwing arm was sore the next morning. Snipers werent fun at all.
They implemented some nice things, such as a motion tracker, which seemed unfair in your favor, but you are quickly reminded what unfair really means when hot lead explodes into your skull while your looking at the motion tracker. The various visions are still there, and become really useful, which is good. There have been a lot of games with various vision modes that you never end up using. Rainbow 6 lockdown gives you the upper hand there too.
All in all, the single player is just as bland as ever. It can be a little bit more fun with co-op, but going through all the missions on your own is a bit of a drag, and you never feel like youve accomplished anything special, since you died every time you encountered a new enemy. However, the strength has always been the online play, and thats where this games stronger points lie.
All the usual modes are here. The games overall feel is a little bit skewered towards arcade, but not enough to be called counter-strike just yet. It is faster paced, and you do feel like youre in an action flick, rather than a simulator. Its obviously catering to the new comers of the genre, and although I wish they would have stuck to rainbow 6 3s formula, this one doesnt disappoint enough for me not to enjoy myself while playing online.
Theyve added a new rpg-like stat/point system, aptly titles PEC (Persistent Elite Creation), where you get points after every match, and then you spend them on leveling up your character. This means that if youre a latecomer, good luck. Your enemies can take more damage, dish out more damage, and have way more accurate weapons than you. Sure theres a rank matching system, but once the games gets going, you wont find to many matches in the lower ranks.
Overall, the multiplayer is fun, and addictive as always. Its easier to play, of course, but who wouldnt want more competition. Now you can teach all those halo 2; 12 year olds what its like to use strategy over a twitchy thumb.
An improvement over the last iteration, but wont be winning any superfluous graphical technology awards. Well, it might, but its a slim chance. Dynamic lighting is all over the place, and theyve used saturated outdoor lighting for reflective dirty surfaces, such as clay or sand. Particles and lighting can be seen all over the place. The new visions are crisper and more fleshed out than the previous ones, but the most noticeable graphical quandary is the addition of a facemask, in which you must see through. As you take damage it cracks and finally breaks when you die. It adds to the emersion scale, but not much. The character models, friendly anyways, are very clean, with plenty of bump mapping so you can actually tell what kind of materials the suits are made up of. The enemy models, suffer as usual. Most of your terrorist nemeses look alike. Youd think your fighting one big family.
The motion capture was kind of awkward. People didnt seem to move right, and really took away from the seriousness of most firefights. I dont know why they simply didnt use the animations from the last game. Its as if they spent a lot of money on the new motion capturing, and they didnt want to waste it, knowing that it looked bad. SO what you get is an odd feeling when running beside your characters.
Anyhow, graphically the game stands above many titles, and wouldnt be called bad in any way, however, weve seen much better done on the xbox.
Guns sound as realistic as ever. Minor differences in the weapon can sound very different, form one another, and the positional awareness on your 5.1 home theatre system will actually make it feel like bullets are whizzing by your head. The tension and fear that came form sound is still there, only this time its accompanied by a sort of annoying feature. Your teammates wont shut up. Awaiting orders which is followed by a sigh of impatience. As your trying to figure out what your next move is, they do it again, and again. I wanted to send them home and do the mission by myself. Alas, that was not an option, which made planning something become annoying to me, and to my virtual teammates.
However, the atmosphere, the guns, and the bullets do their usual tricks, and overall the sound is above average.
Walk-down, to your local rental store:
The game is worth a few nights of frantic firefights and stat building with some friends for co-op, but ultimately, if you dont mind the graphics, you should stick with black arrow. Its just more fun, and way cheaper.