There's no negotiating with terrorists in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3. As an elite counterterrorist operative, you and your team will be called upon to settle highly sensitive situations with decisive force. Armed with your choice of the world's deadliest firearms, you'll neutralize the enemy and rescue any hostages, then leave without a trace. Tactical squad-based shooters, such as Rainbow Six 3, aren't uncommon at this point, though the Rainbow Six series, which debuted on the PC in 1998, has been instrumental in solidifying this popular style of gaming. Interestingly, this series has never made much of an impact on consoles--until now. Rainbow Six 3 for the Xbox, based on (but not a port of) this year's PC shooter Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield, offers great online and offline play and features a remarkable variety of carefully modeled real-world weapons. Despite some issues with the game's online performance and artificial intelligence, Rainbow Six 3 delivers quite possibly the tensest, most serious first-person shooter experiences on the Xbox to date.
Rainbow Six 3 offers tense, visceral shooting action in both its single-player and multiplayer modes.
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 shooter, set in the real world, that strives for realism. 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 features a good variety of modes for play, both online and off. 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. You may save anywhere during the missions, but only a limited number of times. This is a fine way of giving you the flexibility to save your progress without letting you smugly save after every kill. The missions are quite heavily scripted though, 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.
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 each others' backs, 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 after the fact. Rainbow Six 3 is a realistic game, in general, so these occasional AI flukes tend to really stick out.
In the single-player campaign, you're Ding Chavez, the best gun in all of Rainbow.
In addition to the campaign, there's also a cool "custom mission" option, which lets you delve into any of the levels you've seen in the campaign to take on enemies who will appear in different places each time. This adds some pretty good single-player replay value, since the core action of the game is solid. Rainbow Six 3 also offers system link support, if you'd care to hook up multiple televisions and Xboxes, but there's no split-screen multiplayer mode. Consider the concept of the split-screen multiplayer console shooter dead.