Game Over Online ~ Rainbox Six: Rogue Spear

GameOver Game Reviews - Rainbox Six: Rogue Spear (c) Ubi Soft, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Rainbox Six: Rogue Spear (c) Ubi Soft
System Requirements Game Boy Advance
Overall Rating 72%
Date Published Wednesday, April 17th, 2002 at 07:14 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Just as Rainbow Six was the direct antecedent to Rogue Spear on the PC, so is Rainbow Six on the GBC the ancestor of this Rogue Spear. While on the original platform, the jump between the two titles featured significant changes in visuals and audio, this version of Rogue Spear is yet to be desired. Firstly, Rogue Spear on the GBA continues to maintain its hackneyed birds-eye view of the action. The result is a game that plays more like Eidos' Commandos.

Putting Rogue Spear on a console has already been done before. The transition to systems like the Dreamcast illustrated a persuasive case that a complicated tactical shooter in a CQB environment would be hard to replicate on fairly inflexible console-style controllers. Now imagine the entire Rogue Spear scope and operation being reduced to the two shoulders, A-B and Select-Start buttons on the GBA and you can imagine how much would be lost. To the developers' credit, they've tried to preserve as much of the tactical element as possible. For example, although you only control a maximum of a single four-operative team, you can still issue tactical orders to hold or defend but they involve some serious control acrobatics. One of the things a Rogue Spear player often does is to switch between players to ensure maximum effectiveness. You'll want a person with breaching shotguns to open doors or a demolitions expert to handle boobytraps. It follows that in the GBA version, to merely switch from one character to the next involves holding down two shoulder buttons while hitting the B button. Asking a hostage to follow you involves the left shoulder button and B with the hostage selected. Many other functions like manipulating environmental objects involve short double taps and in the end, you'll more often than not want a quick reference guide in front of you until you get used to the controls completely.

Not all has been translated to the GBA version. The intricate planning component has completely disappeared. In lieu of that, you're provided a map during the game and the maps themselves are only spiritually linked to the PC campaign. They might share some of the same art schemes but beyond that, it's a whole new campaign here. You get a choice between two-dozen operatives including the reserve UN characters during each outing. The outfit screen is somewhat crowded and in the PC game, operative selection and weapons were different screens altogether because of this complexity. In its current state on the GBA, you have to do much scrolling to find your favorite operatives. Losing an operative in a mission will result in him or her being unavailable for the next. However, your favorite Tom Clancy literary heroes like Ding Chavez are still here. But unfortunately, the near unlimited supply of UN recruits has disappeared. You only get to take one Assault UN operative out in the field at one time.

It stands that the switch to another perspective might eliminate some of the tactical elements of the game. Your operatives now have a health meter, which is a complete break from the original premise of Rainbow Six or Rogue Spear itself. The enemies are slightly easier and the GBA version has a highly developed sense of fog of war, dependent on how where your squad is located, as well as where they are facing. Combat itself is similar to Commandos. You simply point and shoot in a general direction. One thing unique to note is the fact that reloading discards an entire clip including any unexpended ammunition -- a nice subtle tactical touch that is not found in most PC tactical shooters. Some of the weapon attributes have been changed though. For example, the firing rate of the standard Rainbow assault shotgun has been reduced a lot. As such, most of the time, you'll be relying on your assault members to take down the bulk of the enemies.

You still carry out a variety of CQB missions, with hostage rescue being the most prevalent. Otherwise, there is an option to embark through the entire campaign using the lone wolf mode. Partnered up with other GBAs though, you can play through the entire game co-operatively between two people, as well as in adversarial mode (the franchise terminology for deathmatch) with up to four people. Such options are nearly unparalleled in the GBA world and I'm glad that at least this part transfers nicely from the PC version.

The visuals in the game are bright and colorful but only under good lighting conditions. There is a great attention to making the environments look realistic and the detail manifests itself on the small GBA screen admirably. Perhaps the best part of Rogue Spear on the GBA is the transition of the audio library. All your favorite John Clark lines ("We've got a lot of people watching this one, don't let me down") occur at the beginning of missions and the Rogue Spear veterans will recognize the other voiceovers ("Man down!", "Sound the alarm!") during the game itself. The music, sadly, has taken a turn with Ghost Recon. It only occurs during the menu sequences and appears to be a recompilation of all the PC music. Guns and explosions are equally well done and holistically, the audio fidelity is only slightly reduced for the GBA. Shotguns, assault rifles and reloads are directly taken from the PC edition.

Suffice to say, I fully expected the GBA version of Rogue Spear to be first-person based. Is it not possible in light of the fact that Ecks vs. Sever was released? Surely some additional tweaking can fit such an engine onto the GBA. But perhaps that will have to wait for the GBA version of Ghost Recon or future Rainbow Six titles. Even in its current status, the GBA version has downright complicated controls. This actually promotes more arcade movie-style takedowns than a cautious approach that Rainbow titles are famous for, since many people will simply be ignorant of them. For environmental manipulations, I have to pose the question whether a dynamic menu system like Operation Flashpoint would have been more feasible than hard-coding all the actions into the controls themselves. Quick saving within the missions themselves is also missing; again, inciting frustrated players to mindlessly blow through the levels.

This is undeniably a decent game for the GBA. Whether it has a lot to do with the Rogue Spear franchise is another question altogether. It is of my personal opinion, however, the current perspective is somewhat constraining and does not faithfully convey a CQB experience. It is poignant to remember that on the PC, Rogue Spear is considered a tactical first person shooter. The last three words of that genre are particularly important to immersion. As such, the end result is a game that is less puzzle-like than Commandos and more action-like than the roots of which this game originated from.


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