If you're keeping score, Rainbow Six 3 for the GameCube is a port of the PlayStation 2 version of the game released earlier this year, which itself is a stripped-down version of last year's Xbox game, which happened to be a translation of the PC shooter Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield. That's quite a journey, during the course of which Rainbow Six 3 lost its most significant feature: an online multiplayer mode. What's left, though, is still a perfectly decent military-themed first-person shooter. This latest version still offers a considerable variety of challenging enemy-infested missions and a great selection of carefully modeled real-world weapons, and it also features a pretty good split-screen mode. But it's marred by substandard graphical performance, long loading times, and artificial intelligence issues, and it simply isn't as impressive as its counterparts on other platforms. On its own merits, though, it can still be a tense and exciting first-person shooting experience.
Rainbow Six 3 offers some tense shooting action in both its single-player and split-screen co-op mode.
Rainbow is the name of author Tom Clancy's fictional counterterrorist unit, composed of the world's strongest, fastest, most highly trained sharpshooters and commandos. Basically, Rainbow is deployed to clean up big messes when there's no other recourse. Like other Rainbow Six titles, Rainbow Six 3 is a fairly realistic shooter set in the real world. Death comes swiftly, as just one or two bullets will be enough to take out most targets, and you yourself can't sustain much damage either. Tactics, initiative, and the element of surprise are your greatest weapons, though the submachine guns and assault rifles are pretty handy too. You cannot jump, and you cannot sprint. Unfortunately, you cannot lie prone, but you may crouch and move while crouched, which is often the best course of action. Your "special powers" are limited to an onscreen map of your surroundings, which also reveals the direction from which you're taking fire. You get night vision and thermal vision too. Your means of attack are limited to the primary and secondary weapons and grenades that you choose to bring with you into a mission, and, for reasons that aren't terribly clear, you cannot pick up and use any weapons dropped by those who've been shot. So, in essence, Rainbow Six 3 is a simple game of kill-or-be-killed. You'd better learn to aim faster and truer than your enemies.
The game has a decent variety of modes for play, even though the online options are notably absent. There's a linear, single-player campaign, featuring more than a dozen missions and three levels of difficulty (all of which, in fact, are challenging). In the campaign, you play as Domingo "Ding" Chavez, Rainbow's best. At your side will be up to three other Rainbow operatives per mission. The campaign features an overarching storyline, involving South American terrorists, and other political intrigue that you'd expect from Tom Clancy. The missions themselves take place all over the world, in the sorts of mundane yet tactically intriguing settings you'd expect, from airports to chateaus. They tend to be packed with tangos, as well as a few hostages and maybe a few bombs, which you'll need to take care of or else the mission fails.
The missions aren't lengthy, per se, but since they're difficult, they can take a while. You and your team can't survive more than a few hits. Team members who are "incapacitated" by gunfire will be out for the remainder of that mission, though they'll magically return in subsequent missions. And if Ding dies--game over. Unlike in the Xbox version of the game, you cannot manually save your progress during the missions, though your progress will automatically be saved at various checkpoints. These can feel as though they're few and far between, however. The missions themselves are quite heavily scripted, so a trial-and-error process can eventually see you through if you aren't quick enough to react to the surprises around every corner.
Gun fanatics will love Rainbow Six 3's wide variety of real-world firearms.
Some of the enemies are crack shots, and some will use grenades, but their artificial intelligence can be pretty spotty. They'll run headlong into certain death sometimes, though on other occasions, you'll see them spraying bullets blindly from behind cover. They'll also exhibit other actions more along the lines of what you'd expect from a bunch of armed thugs. Likewise, your own teammates are prone to impressive feats of tactical expertise, as well as incredible stupidity. When ordered to hold position, they'll logically cover the area from every angle. They'll enter rooms while watching one another's back, and, in many cases, they'll save your hide. However, sometimes they'll throw grenades down at their feet, and sometimes they'll get stuck trying to get past one another. They'll also shout things to you long after the fact. Rainbow Six 3 is a realistic game, in general, so these occasional AI flukes tend to really stick out.