Rainbow Six 3 finally makes its appearance on the Nintendo GameCube. 7 months after the Xbox version came out and almost 3 months after the PS2 version, the Nintendo faithful finally get their version of this great game. The question of whether to pick it up or not is based entirely on if you wish there was an online component to this version or not. The Xbox version was highly rated because of its Xbox Live connection while the PS2 version had slightly watered down online play. With the GameCube you just get the 15 single-player missions with no online component at all. Such is the life of the GameCube faithful.
What we do have in Rainbow Six 3 is an excellent tactical single-player game, but is that enough for the game to stand on its own? Let’s find out.
The graphics easily fit between the Xbox version (the best) and the PS2 version (the worst), but this version has its own quirks. The lighting is well done, but this game isn’t necessarily a stealth one like the Splinter Cell series is. The environements and weapon effects are also very good.
The graphics for the most part do their job, but this game has some horrible framerate dips. There is nothing quite like going into a hot zone and the game slowing down to a crawl. Luckily this game sets itself squarely in the tactical combat genre and not the “one man going balls out” genre. Because of the need to strategize the framerate dips won’t seem as hurtful as they could be in another game, but you will notice them.
The little graphical touches on the Xbox have been downgraded here, but what you are given is a pretty good graphical showing, it just won’t knock your socks off like the Xbox version did.
Sound is well done, although you are hindered by the inability to use a communicator to order around the Rainbow team. Instead you have to rely totally on doing it via the controller.
This game is Dolby Pro Logic II compliant and I have to say that all the sounds are well produced in this game, including in the movies. The best sounds of all come from the weapons of course. I’m sure UbiSoft did their homework and are using the actual sounds of these weapons.
The music is also well done when it is actually heard. The opening theme is excellent, however the whole music package is a tad bit below Splinter Cell in this regard.
The controls are pretty good, but it will take a bit to get used to them. You do all of your actions via the A button, including giving out orders by holding it down and pointing the stick in the direction of a command. You move via the left analog stick and you can look around via the C stick. Y will put you in night vision/thermal vision, X will reload your weapon. The R trigger is for shooting and the L trigger is for quick switchout of weapons. With the D-pad you can crouch (down), zoom (up) or lean to the left and right (left/right). The Z button is also important as it is the Zulu button that allows the team to break off in two and come at the tangos from all sides. It’s very helpful when there are multiple ways into a room.
Overall the controls are pretty good and easy to get the hang of once you go through the training section of the game.
This unfortunately is really only half of a game. This is a port of the PS2 version without the online component. The Xbox version was done by a totally different team than the other 2 versions. With the GameCube version we are left with the 15 single-player missions and the ability to play split screen with a friend.
The game itself is pretty good. You are Ding Chavez, leader of the Rainbow team from Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six series of books. You may remember Ding being in the movie Clear and Present Danger with Harrison Ford. That’s the man that the Rainbow Six world revolves around. You’re a team made up of people from countries in NATO that does covert ops missions. As usual for this type of game, the Rainbow team is trying to stop a terrorist threat. There are cutscenes in-between each mission that keeps the story going, but honestly Rainbow Six 3 is no Splinter Cell in the story department, but then again it doesn’t need to be.
The game consists of 15 missions through a variety of environments and locations. You’ll use a myriad of tactical weapons, my favorite of which is the sniper rifle, a staple in these types of games. Nothing like taking down a tango with a head shot. You not only have to worry about Ding, you also have to worry about the 3 other components of your team. You order them to do such things as breaching a door, throwing a flash grenade into an open door in order to blind the targets. The commands are easily done. When you come up to an object you can do an action with it will show up in the lower middle of the screen. You then press A to do the action or you can hold down A to get 4 choices of what to do. You can also add a Zulu option where Ding will break off from the rest of the group to take a situation from multiple angles.
The biggest loss in the gameplay department outside of the lack of online play is that there is no headset option for the GameCube. In at least the Xbox version you could do commands via the Xbox Live headset or the given headset in special packs of Rainbow Six 3 when it came out. Here you’re stuck with doing commands via the A button. This is all fine and dandy, but obviously things would be a bit more cohesive if you could give orders via your voice.
I would also like to comment on the loading screens. They are horrendous. Not only does it take a long time to load a level, but sometimes in the middle of a level it has to load again. It is obvious this game was written with a hard drive in mind to hold level stuff on it. Usually the GameCube is pretty good for the loading of games, but not with this one.
Outside of those, if you’re into a tactical warfare game and only have a GameCube, this would be an excellent game to pick up because it is a very good game. It just doesn’t stand up to its cousins very well.
Once you’re done with the 15 missions you’re pretty much done with the game. The GameCube version is weakened considerably because it does not have online play. Online play on the Xbox version vaulted that game into the high scores it got. Had the game been scored entirely on the single-player experience, even with its great graphics, it probably would not have scored as high.
This game isn’t horrendous, but it seriously is only a pickup for those people that only have a GameCube and want a great tactical warfare game.