Rainbow Six: Lockdown
Rainbow Six: Lockdown isn’t an easy game to rate. On console, the series previously already left the realistic and unforgiving style we know from the PC versions and that line has been continued with this successor. Fans of Rainbow Six who demand realism won’t be happy with this evolution, gamers however that like an FPS with a tactical sidestep will embrace the changes.
The makers no doubt wanted to appeal to both the hardcore gamer as well as the more casual one and for that they continued the line of more arcade gameplay, flavored with some tactical elements. The danger with this is that you get a combination of genres that doesn’t shine on any of them. And that’s exactly what happened with this game, although there are enough positive points that manage to save this title.
The gameplay exists mostly out of the usual stuff from the Rainbow games; room after room, corridor after corridor, location after location you have to get rid of the local terrorists and other scum. The missions, just over a dozen, have the typical objectives like saving a hostage, kill terrorists, and clearing buildings. Nothing new under the sun but that doesn’t bother one second. To finish your worldsaving objectives you of course have a large ammount of weaponry (you can still choose your gear at the beginning of a mission) and of course there’s some added gadgets like flash bangs, grenades, explosives and the new heartbeat sensor.
The latter is a good example of how the series kinda betrays its roots: the device shows a 3D image of the nearby characters on your screen so that you can easily see how many adversaries there are. The big advantage is that you can proceed more quickly but it does degrade the tension; you always know what’s going to happen. On the other side it’s still cool to have your team ram a door and charge in while you’re entering on the other side to surprise your enemies.
Although the AI of your team isn’t too bad, the opponents haven’t been blessed by mother nature. You never have to be quiet, something they’ll just keep shooting next to you and other times they’ll hit you without any problems, they never work together (although Halo shows it’s not impossible) and often you can shoot them one by one without their partners noticing anything.
All this results in the fact that you can play Lockdown just like any other FPS. Just barging in and starting to shoot is possible while in the PC version you couldn’t even think about that without getting killed. This sounds negative but strangely enough, the singleplayer campaign did appeal to me despite the many shortcomings. “Fun” is the right word here but due to the lack of depth the déjà-vu feeling starts coming up sooner than you would like.
Taking control over your team is now also often varied with snipersequences where you have to protect your guys from a large distance by giving the bad guys an extra airhole. These are quite enjoyable and as variation to the normal progression of the game these parts add some additional accessibility and attraction for newcomers to the series. Also the fact that you can save at any time helps with this.
The reason for all the bloodshed isn’t all too original though. A deadly virus is stolen and of course this is one of the kind that makes a huge threat for the population. Seeing that Jack Bauer is occupied elsewhere on a 24-hour card game, you can save the day together with your team from Rainbow Six. As always this is just an excuse to show you all the corners of the world and that the storyline will never win an Oscar is just a sidenote.
As we’re used from Ubisoft, the finishing of the game is again top class. The menus are easy and look beautiful and complete, the cut-scenes ambitious and awesome and the soundtrack is a lot better than what we’re used from the average shooter. The graphics also don’t disappoint with very varied settings (in- and outdoor), a lot of detail, excellent animations and models, spectacular explosions and effects and finally realistically sounding weapons and voice-acting. Original is also the fact that you see everything through your safety goggles (or how do you call such a thing?). You’ll see the rain dropping from it, the image is slightly bent and you’ll see cracks appearing when your health gets to a dangerously low amount.
Also on the multiplayer part, the makers surprised me. Mostly this aspect is quickly talked about (CTF, Deathmatch, little people online) but this time you do get some more than a small desert. Standard are the versus modes, deathmatch, conquest and the team-based variations (up to 16 players) but next to that there’s also a quite enjoyable co-op (also through Xbox Live! Cool!) and of course the accompanying rankings.
The most successful addition however is PEC. Here you can create a character where you need to choose from 4 classes: commando, spec op, engineer and medic. Each class has its own properties (the spec op for instance of course has a sniper rifle) and on top of that with the xp and the money you earn you can unlock new items and weapons. Also you constantly need to repair your arms and can improve your character (thanks to experience points) by making him better in certain things. This adds a good RPG-aspect to this tactical shooter which makes it feel fresh and adds to the appeal of the online playing.
Lockdown is in the end quite enjoyable but does have some trouble keeping its identity. This makes the singleplayer campaign unbalanced at times and less intense or exciting than it could have been. Luckily the excellent visual and auditive finishing off as well as the variation with the sniper parts are present to hide this. Also the multiplayer possibilities won’t disappoint fans of online shooting, thanks to amongst others the ever fun co-op and the new RPG-mode. Flesh nor fish but in the end a quite enjoyable mix, nicely served with everything in it. For a next episode, Ubisoft will have to make a choice though!