Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow Xbox Official Website
by Ubisoft Entertainment
Developed by Ubisoft Entertainment
Released - Out Now
Price : £19.99
It's difficult to underestimate just how valuable the Tom Clancy games have been in the success of the Xbox console. Splinter Cell surpassed any stealth game that had gone before and arrived just in time to help give the Xbox a great first Christmas. Before that Ghost Recon had given us a great Xbox Live experience and since then we've had Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow and of course Rainbow Six 3. Whilst Rainbow Six 3 was a very good single player game it's the Xbox Live experience that impressed most people. As Christmas fast approaches Ubisoft have a few more Tom Clancy games for us and the first of these is what we have here, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow.
As you would expect the story behind Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow is one of impending world doom unless terrorism can be thwarted. The year is 2007 and once again you'll be controlling Ding Chavez who is once again accompanied by Price, Weber, Loiselle et al. Terrorists have made a series of attempts to kidnap telemetry and rocket scientists, which is taken as a sign that they are planning something despicable and therefore must be stopped and of course Team Rainbow are just the people to stop them. The campaign (a Tom Clancy approved one too) is made up of 10 missions in all and puts you in such locations as a subway station, the streets of Milan, rocket facilities and a nuclear reactor. The campaign is of the same standard of the one found in Rainbow Six 3 and if you enjoyed that game you'll certainly enjoy Black Arrow. Along with the campaign you also have the option of taking some training as well as a custom mission. Custom missions (you can only use missions you've unlocked) can either be a practice mission, Terrorist Hunt or Lone Hunt for those of you who always wanted to play a mission in solo mode.
Everything which made Rainbow Six 3 great can be seen in Black Arrow. The controls feel as comfortable as before and if you've played Rainbow Six 3 you'll be able to jump straight in. If you didn't play Rainbow Six 3 there's a tutorial that introduces you to the basics (the exact same tutorial that there was in Rainbow Six) and it's a great place to start. The campaign can either be played in recruit, veteran or elite mode. Again only temporary saves can be made (you're only allowed 3 mind you) so a mission must be completed before you turn off the Xbox otherwise you'll lose your progress. I did hope that you would have been able to make a permanent save during a mission, which would have helped if you didn't have time to play the whole mission through in one sitting but I suppose it would have taken away some suspense from the game. The enemy AI has been improved somewhat and offers more of a challenge, especially on the elite difficulty setting.
A lot of gamers will look at Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow for its Xbox Live content especially as Rainbow Six 3 proved to be such a great Xbox Live Experience. Features aside perhaps the most notable aspect of Black Arrow's online game is that it's the first game to fully support the Xbox Live 3.0 features. You can setup your own clans, enter and create your own competitions and send each other text messages. Black Arrow has more game modes with the options being, Mission, Terrorist Hunt, Survival, Sharpshooter, Team Survival, Total Conquest and Retrieval. It's also worth mentioning that there are many new maps too, which should please longstanding players of Rainbow Six 3. Once again the game seems to have struck a chord with online gamers as whenever I've been online it's always been easy to play any of the modes as there has always been a considerable amount of gamers playing. Don't fancy playing online? Well with Black Arrow you can play through the game co-operatively with a friend as it supports 2-player split screen play. For those of you without Xbox Live, this makes Black Arrow even more appealing than Rainbow Six 3 and it definitely adds longevity to the game.
Visually Black Arrow is of equal quality to Rainbow Six 3 and whilst the game didn't exactly offer the highest level of visuals you could find on the Xbox, it still looked good and Black Arrow definitely looks as good. Of course Black Arrow contains different environments to Rainbow Six 3 and in this respect the game does have a different look to it but in terms of graphical quality there is little, if any, difference. The impressive thermal and night vision make a return and look as good as ever and I particularly like the blurry effect you receive if you stray too near to a thrown tear gas canister. As with Rainbow Six 3 the frame rate in Black Arrow is constant throughout and doesn't decline even when the onscreen action becomes hectic.
Rainbow Six 3, great as it was, had a few problems for deaf gamers and unfortunately there are still some problems with Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow. The cutscenes are not subtitled, which is unfortunate. Comments from your men whilst you are in a mission are not subtitled and whilst this doesn't spoil the game as such, it would have been nice to have seen their comments subtitled especially as they occasionally offer warnings of nearby enemies. Like Rainbow Six 3 if you want to see the mission briefing once you're in a mission you'll have to exit the mission which loses all your progress. However pressing the start button to access the pause menu will give your next objective in text, which is an improvement. Mission briefings are subtitled and you can scroll through the text with the L and R triggers so you can read the briefing at your leisure.
Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow will certainly please fans of Rainbow Six 3. The single player campaign is of equal quality to the one found in Rainbow Six 3 and when you factor in all the additional content it's obvious that Ubisoft have once again given Xbox gamers another great game. Best of all though is the price. Ubisoft could have charged full price for this game and it would still have sold because of the appeal of both the Tom Clancy products and the popularity of the online modes. However Ubisoft decided to make the game cost only £19.99 and as a result it represents outstanding value for both those who own or don't own the original Rainbow Six 3 game. Yes it's not completely deaf gamer friendly but for fans of the tactical FPS games it's still an enjoyable experience.
Game Rating: 8.5/10
Another great Tom Clancy title from Ubisoft that fans of tactical FPS games simply must own. It could have been more deaf gamer friendly though but the addition of a 2-player co-operative mode and the extra Xbox Live options make it outstanding value at only £19.99
There are a few problems but nothing that should deter fans of the Tom Clancy titles.