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ups: Great level design, strong Xbox Live support.
downs: Horrible, horrible AI. Just stupid, stupid, stupid.

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Rainbow Six: Lockdown Review
game: Rainbow Six: Lockdown
three star
posted by: Aaron Stanton
publisher: Ubisoft
developer: Ubisoft
ESRB rating: M (Mature)
date posted: 02:23 PM Tue Sep 13th, 2005
last revision: 11:19 AM Wed Sep 14th, 2005

Click to read.Rainbow Six: Lockdown continues to drift farther from what made the series great, offering a muted tactical experience in favor of a run-and-gun battle against remarkably stupid AI. While the new streamlined style of gameplay might appeal to a wider audience, old fans will be extremely disappointed to see that the paced elements they\'ve loved in the past have disappeared, and been replaced by a first person shooter that\'s a shadow of Rainbow Six 3.

Editor\'s Note: If you want to see something amusing, jump down to the first and second RealPlayer (I know, not our favorite format, either) video clips; discover your invincible side.

Make it easier:

Lockdown revolves around simplifying the user experience. The creed during development seems to have been, \"Make it easier.\" As a consequence, the bad guys have no teeth, and instead attempt to gum you to death over time; their weapons are just that effective. Everything from weapon selection to planning how to clear a room has been streamlined to require as little thinking as possible. Where previous installments of the series required you to approach with caution, Lockdown plays more like Halo with bad guys that always die in one shot. Action is paramount.

The worst AI ever:

The most significant complaint about Rainbow Six: Lockdown is the lack of enemy AI. Someone has actually taken the time to code air into the space where the brain of the enemy should be.

Not only do they walk into the open while under fire, but they use bullets that appear to be ineffective at killing things. Least you think I\'m exaggerating, I ran some test cases. I set up different scenarios, like placing my soldier directly in front of a bad guy, and timed my repeated deaths.

At point blank range, in full daylight, you can be shot in the head for approximately 19 seconds before you die. Bet you didn\'t know that, huh? At a bit more range, like 7 feet, you can withstand upward of 120 seconds of little metal objects plunging into your skull. At about 15 or 20 feet, from an elevated window, with a clear line of view and nothing between the end of his gun and my forehead, it took a terrorist a grand total of 7 minutes and 33 seconds from the point he started firing to the moment I died.

With six terrorists shooting at once, at least three within arms reach, it took me 16 seconds to be brought down. Turns out that every member of the Rainbow Team is like that really big quarter back that can never be tackled in the movies; he just carries the entire opposing team on his back to the touchdown with him.

On Elite difficulty, the hardest in the game, standing directly in front of the enemy in the same way leads to death in 36 seconds. If that doesn\'t seem like a long time to you, consider this: The average person runs at a speed of about 18 miles per hour, or 26 feet per second. That means that in the 36 seconds it took for that terrorist to kill me on the highest difficulty setting from 10 feet away, my soldier could have run a hundred yard dash, broken the guy\'s neck by hand, and still had time to run the length of two football fields.

Enemies also often fail to recognize your presence, even when you\'re standing right before them. They\'ll stare at you blankly through a window until you cross a certain line, even if you\'re shooting around their head.

So how come I die?

After playing a few levels, it occurred to me that I was dying. Even with the stupid AI, I found that the levels were killing me. The AI didn\'t seem to be any better in the later levels, because I could still stand in the middle of the room for smoking breaks without fear of injury. Why was I dying?

It took me a while to realize that your chances of being hit actually go up if you are moving and behind cover. Standing upright in the open is the safest place in the game to be.

After I understood that terrorists are only good at shooting people that are in motion and have good cover, I realized why I had been dying in the later levels. Good level design. As the levels got more complicated, I took to leaning around corners more carefully, surveying rooms from behind cover before charging in. Naturally, that killed me. I reverted to more obvious tactics, like opening the door and standing motionless in full view, and I started dying less.

The AI is simply too inconsistent to take seriously. Sometimes they manage to kill you, but it always feels like maybe they did it by accident. Other times they hit you from long distances after spotting you from the corner of their eye. Not only is the inconsistency annoying, it\'s frustrating. It\'s frustrating to be shot at for seven minutes by one guy, then sniped by another through some nearly impossible shot. Often times you get hit because you accidentally took cover by standing to close to a wall or door. How silly is that?

Friendly AI is worse:

It would be nice if friendly AI were better, but sadly it\'s not. While they don\'t get caught on things and require you to backtrack through levels to find them, they\'re also not really all that useful. If you do nothing but follow your troops through doors, letting them do 100% of the battles, what you find is that their average accuracy rate (reported to you at the end of each level) is about 3%. They miss 97% of the time. Now, let\'s put that into perspective. Since you have to be hit around 7 times with a pistol before you die, and the enemy has to be hit only once for the same effect, we have to make some adjustments to compare the numbers. On normal difficulty it takes about 15 seconds of firing before you get hit for the first time. If I were a bad guy, that would equal my death.

So all things being equal, it would take 15 seconds for a bad guy at point blank range to kill me. Set up in the same scenario, shooting an enemy at point blank range with a rifle instead of a pistol, it took one of my teammates 1 minute and 8 seconds to take down a terrorist with no cover. In other words, judging on a one-hit kill basis, the incompetent terrorists are actually 4.5 times more efficient at killing you than your teammates are at killing them. Taken on a first to die basis, your teammates and the morons that shoot at you for 7 minutes without ending your life operate on about the same level.

That said, there are other times that your teammates will clear a room in seconds flat. Again, the AI is inconsistent.

Considering that one of Lockdown\'s big advertised features was a story driven by teammate personalities, the lack of anyone worthy of being on the team is fairly depressing.

Best map design around:

If the miserable AI doesn\'t kill the game for you, there are a number of other elements that Ubisoft has gotten right. Level design, for example, is spot on. Almost every map has multiple approaches to rooms and branching corridors that allow multiplayer teams to spit apart and assault from different direction.

Unlike Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow, which had almost exclusively linear maps, Lockdown has some of the best maps I\'ve seen in the series. They\'re creative, atmospheric, and really a joy to play. In fact, the map design and the ability to play online against opponents that are capable of shooting you are the sole saving graces of Rainbow Six: Lockdown. Those two elements alone are the only reason to give up playing the original Rainbow Six 3 and move up to this one.

Weapons go bang:

Other elements are not as impressive, though certainly not fatal mistakes. The gun selection system is less interesting than in Rainbow Six 3, which broke down the stats in rather fine detail. Lockdown also has gun stats, but much simpler ones. Instead of having power, accuracy, and such broken down on a 100-point scale, they have them broken down on a high, medium, and low scale. As a consequence, many of the guns appear to have the same performance during selection, and the rating is generally worthless.

Nifty tactical scanner:

Included in your arsenal of toys is a visual scanner that shows you where your enemies are through walls. While it seems that such a toy would make life too easy, the battery runs out quickly enough that its both useful, and limited at the same time.

Multiplayer support:

As you would expect, Rainbow Six: Lockdown is a great Xbox Live title. Just as the previous generations of the series have shown, more realistic gun battles can kick ass. The arcade feel of the game is less prominent when you\'re battling other intelligent enemies, and the map design really shines during these moments.

However, Rainbow Six: Lockdown still falls short of having full support for system link, forcing you to play only one character per Xbox in system link games. You can split screen locally, but don\'t expect to be playing four people together without at least four Xboxes and four televisions. The whole Rainbow Six series could take a lesson from the excellent Ghost Recon 2, which lets up to 8 players go at the game with only two system linked Xboxes.


Rainbow Six: Lockdown was supposed to be the crowning jewel of my game system until the Xbox 360 showed up and swept me off my feet with Advanced Warfighter. Now, it looks like Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike will have to hold my attention longer than expected. I was originally going to give this game 2 out of 5 stars, until I realized that the reason many people purchase Rainbow Six is online play. There\'s nothing about the AI that inhibits having a good time online. Because of its online play, good maps, and solid production values, Rainbow Six: Lockdown crawled out of a 2 star rating, but it\'s barely over the cusp.

It\'s very disappointing. Rainbow Six 3 has equal Live support, better and more weapons, and is an all-around better game. There\'s no reason to put the old game away to start new on this one.

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