ďTango downĒ -- Two little words that mean volumes to tactical action fans. Long before terrorism became a daily topic in the news, Tom Clancy illustrated the continual threats to global security in both his books and video games. Thanks to the realism and attention to detail, gamers could free hostages and protect nations from the safety of their living rooms. As you can expect, this elevated the Rainbow Six Franchise to one of the most popular online series. Now the latest title in the counterterrorism dynasty is getting ready to storm Xboxes every where. Grab some flashbangs, check your six and fire up your night vision goggles, because itís time to enlist in Rainbow Six: Black Arrow.
Veterans of the Rainbow Six series will recognize some of the returning team members to this latest edition. Ding Chavez steps into the role of team leader for this set of missions, which traverse the world in pursuit of terrorists seeking weapons of mass destruction. Many of the areas that youíll fight in arenít conventional spaces, often providing defensive advantages for your opponents. For instance, the first mission youíll undertake in Campaign mode is a hostage and bomb diffusing situation in a London subway. Terrorists have established choke points and ambush areas for any potential incursions by law enforcement. Youíll have to rely on your pre-mission briefings and your teammates to successfully navigate each level, accomplish your objectives and neutralize all threats.
Like other Rainbow Six titles, part of your success is dependent on the equipment you bring into battle. You can choose to outfit your team with everything from Galil Arms and FAMAS rifles to frag grenades and even tear gas. While tear gas may sound like a great incapacitating weapon, you should be aware that terrorists have access to these items as well, so you may need to pack gas masks on missions. Fortunately, operatives donít need to worry about including night vision or thermal detection goggles, because this has become part of your standard loadout, allowing you to switch back and forth between the two at will.
As most players know, much of Rainbow Six is dependent on intelligently deploying your squad in hostile environments. Black Arrow provides a slick one button system in tandem with a directional menu to issue commands, which can provide on the fly leadership even during battle. Thanks to this, you can use your teammates to effectively cover you on flanking maneuvers or clear rooms. Players arenít fully restricted to computer teammates either to protect their backs. With multiplayer via split screen, system links or Xbox Live, up to four commandos can cooperate to accomplish missions together.
Considering that enemy and hostage placement is randomized each time you play one of the ten included maps, you may want as many friends looking out for you as possible. However, in case you donít have friends readily available, Black Arrow will provide more than enough of an adrenaline high thanks to the Lone Rush mode. Players choose a map and difficulty level, then get ready to run. See, youíre only given a minute to navigate through the map, which makes speed especially of the essence. Killing terrorists adds 5 seconds to the clock, while rescuing hostages adds 15 and diffusing bombs adds a vital 30 seconds. Add to that the fact that youíll be going it alone with no backup, ammo stockpiles or health kits in a level and you can believe that the tension of running a level cleanly will definitely be high.
Although enemy AI seems to be a little questionable (some terrorists run from relative safety behind cover into the open to be easily killed) and load times are extremely long, the game should resolve those issues by the time it ships. There are a number of nice touches, such as the rag dolling of dead terrorists and the clear vocal acting by squadmate and terrorist alike. Black Arrow should be infiltrating stores soon, so check back soon for a full review!
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