The Rainbow Six series is based on the Tom Clancy novels of the same name. The series originally started out on the PC with ports to the Nintendo64 and Sony PlayStation and has since become the benchmark for all tactical shooters.
After a hand full of games and a sequel on PC, the series made its 6th generation console debut on the Xbox instead of PC, which disappointed a few fans of the series whom did not want to invest in an Xbox. However, once it arrived on Xbox with support for Xbox Live and the Xbox headset so players could play online and communicate via the Xbox headset it became a great addition to any gamers Xbox collection.
When it comes to Tactical Shooters, the Rainbow Six series has always been one of the most popular of its genre and Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow (from here on in referred to as RS3BA) is the latest addition to the series. This time around, you are hunting well, more terrorists. In keeping with the Rainbow Six series, this game is all about tactics and running into the action headlong, as I normally do will get you killed. Subtlety is the key here or, if you see a timer indicating the terrorists have set the bombs to go off, you will have to get to them fast enough to defuse them before they explode or you will fail the mission. This game features some of the most realistic environments I have seen in a game since Ninja Gaiden - out now for Xbox - and is about as hard, if not harder to start with.
Because this game goes for realism there are a number of real-life based weapons to gun down terrorists ranging from pistols, to sniper rifles and grenade launchers. If you still have not had enough after you have finished the Campaign missions and you have Xbox Live you can download extra content or play against the world over Xbox live multiplayer because, as they say, it is good to play together. As you play through the missions, you will unlock the cut scenes in the start menu for later viewing. The missions in RS3BA are somewhat varied in atmosphere, from dark missions where you must use infrared or night vision goggles to see your enemy.
RS3BA leaves no room for errors in missions, as just a few hits can be enough to render you incapable of living. Fortunately, as hard as this game is, you can save your game anywhere. This helps a lot, as you will probably die a lot due to the aforementioned difficulty of the game and lack of health that goes with the realism theme of the series. The realism in this game almost goes too far; as I mentioned before you can still save mid mission but you can only save three times, so you have to use them wisely. This is very much the shooter for patient people, who enjoy waiting for the terrorists to turn their backs to them before running out and showering them with bullets.
RS3BA has fairly reasonable multiplayer options; for those without Xbox live it features up to 2 players on split screen, for people with Xbox it supports the Xbox headset if you don't have a headset plugged the game will automatically switch the sound to the speakers.
All good so far, now for the bad. The computer controlled team mates have some reasonably smart AI but sometimes do stupid things, for instance: if you tell a guy to use a frag grenade he will just throw a frag grenade in the direction he happens to be facing at the time. Yes, even he happens to be facing you at the time, you had better move because he is quite happy to throw a frag grenade at you. On the bright side, you can always shoot your team at the start of the mission, though this does make it a little harder to complete the mission. This is a solid tactical shooter worth a look for anyone who loved Rainbow Six 3.