Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
Introduction:One of the most exciting Tom Clancy franchises has returned with more action, multi-player madness and intense gun battles. I'm not talking about Sam whoever, this is the Rainbow Six team in Black Arrow.
The Game:Evil terrorists have arisen and team Rainbow is called to duty. Team Rainbow is an elite tactical force which is in the delicate work of threat elimination. Needless to say that organized crime and plots to rule the world can not go on, and it's up to you to save remedy the situation. Black Arrow starts off the game with an underground skirmish in a London subway station and quickly moves you into Hotels and industrial facilities. No one stands a chance when Ding Chavez and his crew of elite operatives are on the case.
The gameplay is just how you remember it, and again team commands are easily executed. Controlling your team is a blast, and surprisingly I found the controls to be better on the Xbox than the PC versions of Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield. One thing I wish they could have implemented (which is in Raven Shield) is the ability to switch between team members. Being able to control the other operatives and not just Ding Chavez would have been cool, but since the action is so precise it's hard to complain. and Chavez isn't such a bad guy.
While playing Black Arrow, you'll find yourself using the theory of "baby steps" more than the old "Rambo" approach. If you run straight into enemy territory you better be wearing horseshoes in your helmets because you're most likely to be shredded up within seconds. Your team accuracy is good, but sometimes they just wont have the cards in there hand, and will end up wasted. Its best to trust yourself and stay close with the team incase you underestimated the situation. I found the move-zoom tactic to be effective, but it's not the most macho approach. I tried several times running around pretending I was in Serious Sam, but Black Arrow knocked me back to my senses. You only have a few health bars, so one quick ambush and you'll be toast. Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow is best played inching around corners and being overly cautious.
Every other aspect of Black Arrow is how you would expect, each mission differs from each other, you can set-up you character and outfit him with whatever weapons you wish. One automatic rifle, one pistol or semi-auto handgun, and two grenades or gas mask. The assortment is the same as Rainbow Six 3, and offers sniping rifles, to shotguns, to silenced handguns. You are deployed and you run though the missions and occasionally you have to side tracking to clean up other problems. Black Arrow also has several instances where you'll be requested to go in alone, like the new lone-wolf single player mode. If team work isn't your strongest trait you can show them what you got. Gather your nerves and eliminate those targets.
* For you Raven Shield fans, Black Arrow has included several maps from the game including two of my favorites; The Airport & the Meat Packing Factory.
Overall Black Arrow is an improvement over the first game, but only marginally. I have a few minor grips with Black Arrow and I think if they could ease these minor issues away it would provide a better, more realistic experience. The first issue I have with Black Arrow is that the levels are very linear and the AI is usually doesn't move too much from its pre-determined paths. If you die and have to replay a section of the game, you will know where everything is to trounce on the enemy with ease. If you go through a level more than twice you'll start to notice flaws like the same terrorist always surrendering, or terrorist running in a row straight into your fire on there direction path.
To finish off with my gripes, I think it would add to the experience if you could go through every door you see, push aside small boxes or couches to fit into areas which are inaccessible. The enemy should re-spawn in different locations each time you play a mission to make the game more spontaneous. Of course these are little grips which don't hinder the gameplay, but there is always room to improve. I have faith in you Montreal ; Lets make Rainbow Six 4 surpass everyone's expectations
Graphics & Sound:Black Arrow graphically is on par with last years version of the game, the might be minor tweaks to the engine but its looks very similar. I'm sure the graphics engine has been tweaked, but not to a great extent. The character models, lighting and textures are excellent and Black Arrow will look great compared the majority of last year titles. One thing Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow doesn't have is any of the over-done rag-doll physics which are popping up in almost every new game. The environment and small items like boxes can not be destroyed either, this is fine but other games are upping the extra features. Again I have another point to add to my Rainbow Six 4 wish list.
The audio portion of Black Arrow is amazing, just like all Tom Clancy games there is a tinge of perfection. 5.1 Dolby digital is a must with Black Arrow, even better is the option to play with the audio separated in with the Xbox Live communicator and your TV. The headset will act like your characters headset in the game letting you hear your other team mates and the atmospheric sounds will just echo out of your TV speakers. If they only implemented voice commands, to blend the experience similar to the Manhunt, Black Arrow would have been ultra-cool. The rest of the audio including soundtrack, sound effects, and voice work are excellent. I haven't played one Tom Clancy game where the sound is anything less then perfect.
Innovation:I left the multiplayer section open for the innovation section; since that is where Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow has the time to shine. If you can find a decent server without spawn campers and kids who are just fooling around, you can get into some serious action. Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow made life easier with by adding the ability to form squads with your Xbox Live friends, let's hope you have some. Besides finding your friends earlier you can get in-deeper to the game with team rankings, and squad battles. Think before you shoot! Should apply to most cases. Good team work and solid communication is all you need to be successful. It might take a little getting used to, but once you find your grove in multi-player you'll be rocking.
Black Arrow also adds two new multiplayer modes 'Retrieval' and 'Total Conquest'. Retrieval is similar to capture the flag, and total conquest is similar to unreal tournaments domination where you have to hold positions on the map to win the game. Both are welcomed additions and Total Conquest is a real gem. Downtown Recommends.
Mojo:Ever since I played Raven Shield for the PC; I have been hooked on the Rainbow Six series. The console versions of the game are converted flawlessly and aside from minor complaints the game rocks. Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow has the Uzi-cool-mojo. The teams mojo gets them through any situation, the Rainbow team just cruises over the opposition. Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow is the coolest military shooter to be released to date. It proves to be slightly better than the last game, and gives us a sleek satisfying experience. Mojo-Riffic.
Lowdown:Tom Clancy Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow is must for all you tactical shooter fans. Even if you already own last year's game, Black Arrow should give you enough to satisfy you until the real sequel comes out. If it's multi-player action you're seeking, Black Arrow game leads the pack.
Gameplay: 8, Graphics/Sound: 9, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 9. Final: 8.5
GOTY RUNNER-UP: BEST XBOX LIVE GAME OF 2004