[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/rs3blackarrow/cover.jpg[/floatleft]Team Rainbow is back in this sequel to the blockbuster hit Rainbow Six 3. This time around Team Rainbow has to stop a group of renegade military officers from starting a war in the oil rich regions around the Black Sea. They are attempting to kidnap telemetry and rocket scientists in an effort to swoop in during the war and seize control. It is your job to prevent this from happening and to stop them from developing weapons of mass destruction. That’s right baby, Ding is back.
Black Arrow is a lot more of what you saw in the first game with a few changes. The first thing you may notice is the lack of the .50 Cal. I can only assume they felt this gun carried a heavy advantage so no .50 Cal. No worries though as your arsenal is packed full of an array of weapons to make everyone happy. For the gamers new to R63, it will take a while before you comfortably know which weapons work for your style of playing. It took me a few good long rounds of playing to get this down. A big addition to the game is the gametype called Lone Rush. Lone Rush is a single player race to the finish where you must rush through a level in a specified amount of time. Killing terrorists adds a few seconds to your timer. Kill a hostage and get slapped with a loss in time. Lone Rush is nice addition to the game, but quite difficult.
[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/rs3blackarrow/ss05_thumb.jpg[/floatright]Obviously Black Arrow comes standard with a campaign and 3 difficultly levels as well as multiplayer over Xbox Live. I played my fair share of campaign missions before meeting up with the crew on Live and I have been hooked ever since. Co-op is also back and can be a lot of fun if you want to polish your terrorist hunting skills. Playing on Live is what makes the game fun. The campaigns are ok, but get very repetitive in the long run. Playing with your friends on Live does not get old, unless of course you are on the wrong end of my M16. I can see how that would get old. (I can feel our crew laughing at me right now as they try to imagine the last time I got a high number of kills in a match)
From what I can tell, the graphics engine was reused from the last Rainbow Six game but Pretzel and Manchester U swear that the first game looks better. At any rate, the graphics are crisp and clean and there is not a lack of detail that I noticed anywhere.
The aural aspect of the game was also highly impressive. Hearing doors open and close or grenades being thrown would give you a directional idea of where people might be. The use of the headset was a joy as it also helped with the directional sound even though it isn’t very comfortable to wear for those of us that wear glasses.
[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/rs3blackarrow/ss08_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]While I feel that the single player campaigns plus the multiplayer fun and the low $40 price point make this a nobrainer for most people, the game seemed a little buggy. When you have joined a server on Live and try to send a voice message to someone and the game starts, you can’t hear or speak to anyone during the game. It seems this has happened to quite a few members of our squad. Leaving the game and rejoining it fixes the problem. We also encountered a problem during a game of retrieval where the canister disappeared into the ground after being dropped. Keep in mind that the game can be patched via Live so I would expect Ubisoft to correct any problems that are brought to light very soon. I was also informed that the original R63 had large quantities of downloadable content available shortly after release. We are now a few weeks after release for Black Arrow and there has been no content announced. I hope Ubisoft has something lined up for us very soon.
The bottom line is that I was a skeptic about enjoying Black Arrow and I am now a fan who can’t stop playing. The minor glitches do get annoying, but they are in such small instances that it isn’t a huge issue. I also expect them to be corrected fairly soon. The online play of the game keeps you coming back long after you have completed the single player and it is the real reason to own the game in the first place. Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow is definitely a must have for Xbox Live users and an all around quality game from a studio who has been delivering solid titles all year long. Awesome job Ubisoft.