A standard mission will start you off with a situational briefing and overview of your objectives. After the briefing you'll pick your team of up to eight operatives in as many as three different fire teams, and then outfit them with a wide variety of realistic weaponry. You can choose to map out a mission plan for you and your AI-driven team mates, or you can just drop into the mission and figure things out on the fly.
Raven Shield allows for cooperative and competitive online play, but unfortunately there's no mechanism that allows you to play cooperatively with friends through missions in a linear order with the storyline intact. This missing feature aside, cooperative play is still a great feature, and a refreshing break from standard death match play.
There are several significant improvements in Raven Shield, most notably the use of the Unreal graphics engine. It's vastly superior to previous games and provides crisp, clean graphics that are beautiful enough to help suspend disbelief--a feat that's typically more difficult for games with modern settings. New controls in Raven Shield such as incremental door-opening and fluid movement controls allow for much stealthier (and thus more fun) movement around the map.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Raven Shield should appeal to anyone who favours realism in games and is tired of fast-paced but mind-numbing first person shooters. --Jon Grover
The 'campaign' games story is told mainly by the mission briefings from various sources between each mission and the odd 'between mission' cut scene, while its not very involving it does give you the chance to skip all the reading and planning and go in and shoot everything. The story isn't exactly ground breaking anyway and the involvement I felt even though I read all the briefings and watched the scenes was pretty much zilch. The story felt more like an excuse to shoot stuff then a major part, which in an FPS is pretty much the norm. It is the rest of the game in which Raven Shield makes itself stand out.
Your squad mates are usually useless in FPSes, not so in Raven Shield, you can order them to open doors, throw grenades, charge rooms, cover you, and change how they behave (so that they follow your style, creeping around with silencers, firing at everything that moves, rushing around shooting before your noticed) and they are far from stupid.
Being someone who likes to creep around I often found my team mates saving my butt, as while paying attention to whats infront an enemy walks around behind me. Your own squad will tell you whats going on with a few simple phrases, with the other 2 friendly squads co-ordinating with you on a few occasions (based on your go codes).
The terrorists are reasonably smart, and if outnumbered they will often run away and wait for you to come up the stairs or around the corner and even throw a sneaky grenade through the door. The only problem with the terrorists is that their aim and senses seem superhuman, they almost always take you out on the higher difficulty options, and are quite hard even on the rookie option. The time old bug of sensing you through doors and walls is also here on occasion, though they won't fire through (unless they see you duck behind them).
The weapons sound fantastic, you can even hear each individual casing hitting the ground, other then the door creaks being quite generic the atmosphere generated is superb, I have physically jumped so many times when a terrorist has unexpectedly spotted me. Along with the sound the graphics are amazing, the terrorists look very life like and your squad mates animations are convincing and fluid. When it snows and you can hear the wind howling it is one of the most atmospheric FPSes out there. (Shame about the static vehicle graphics, a little more time should have been taken with them)
In multiplayer Raven Shield can be quite a different game, with many preferring not to do the sneak tactic, and take a more bold approach. Its often harder then the single player and you have to be wary of the various gadgets & tools, and quite often grenades (which are under used by terrorists in single player). Co-operatively Raven Shield is still superb, you can control a squad each with AI taking the back up positions, some very impressive hostage rescues can be pulled off with coordinated attacks!
Overall, well worth adding to your collection and a game that because of the accurate physics, excellent multiplayer, realistic AI and authentic weapons you won't tire of for a long long time.
Although the difficulty level is extreme to say the least, this just adds to the tension and makes you plan each mission down to a T, being careful to select the right weapons and equipment to go with the right Team members, even though it's practically guaranteed that 90 percent of them will be dead by the time you get halfway through the campaign. The ragdoll physics also greatly add to the gameplay, as it is always that bit more satisfying to take out a terrorist, especially with one of the high powered sniper rifles.
However, one aspect that does slightly irritate me is each terrorist's ability to see and shoot your teammates dead in a split second, from fifty metres away...with a pistol. I mean I know they're supposed to be well trained, but come off it! It's the Operation Flashpoint, 'every enemy soldier is a sniper', syndrome all over again.
But anyway, this is thee only gripe I have with what is otherwise a sublime gaming experience. It combines superb graphics, an awesome physics engine and edge of the seat tension to produce a truly immersive game. Oh yeah, and the weapon effects will tear you a new eardrum.
Graphically, Raven Shield has achieved this by using the stunning new Unreal engine. This provides very highly detailed character models and large environments which often (not always) give you plenty of planning options. Animation is fantastic, as your men pull flashbang grenades from their belts, pull the pin and toss them into rooms, or sling their rifles across their backs as they climb ladders.
Weapon effects are spot on. Should you accidentally be looking towards a detonating flashbang grenade, the screen goes white, eventually returning to normal but with a burnt-in image of what you were looking at when the grenade went off for a while. There is also an unpleasant high-pitched whistle for a few seconds too. Tear gas grenades cause your on-screen ‘eyes’ to water too.
As with previous R6 games, there is a loose plot tying together various hostage rescue and terrorist elimination missions together within various countries across the world. You are able to plan your assaults down to the smallest detail (selecting rules of engagement, room entry methods, etc.), equip your hand-picked men and women (pick their clothing, weapons and equipment) and then execute the plan (kick in doors and pray your team doesn’t get wiped out. All the members of the Rainbow team have detailed stats and bios, I’m not sure how much difference these make, but you have your favourites and I tend to like to make sure all the team gets some experience.
You can skip the planning phase and load up a default plan, most of which work very well and allow you to get into the action very quickly. Planning is half the fun though, and much satisfaction is gained from perfectly executing your own plan. The planning phase is easy to use, if a little time consuming as it can take a while to set-up routes for three different assault teams.
The enemy AI is pretty aggressive and generally switched-on, so you will find that plans take quite a bit of refining as you fail a mission a number of times until you crack it. Occasionally, the missions can be downright unfair, but persistence pays off, even if sadly it means you have to cut some corners or do everything yourself to get the job done. Your team AI isn’t bad, sadly your guys still do daft things on occasion (get stuck in doorways, blunder straight into enemy fire) but they can also be very capable, taking down terrorists in a split second and communicating well. Unfortunately, they cannot always be left to carry out their part of the mission successfully (they get wiped out alarmingly easily at times), so you have to control each team one at a time, which is a shame.
Online play is fantastic, the game really comes into its own when played in co-operative mode, with your friends controlling separate Rainbow team(s) alongside you as you take on the terrorists. It is tense and atmospheric, and with some voice comms running (such as Roger Wilco) is a great experience.
Raven Shield is not, gameplay-wise, a huge leap for the Rainbow Six series, but then if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The AI is generally improved, and graphically and sonically, it is a thing of beauty. It is very easy to pick up and play but takes time to master, and really you can ask no more.
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