I’m proud to announce the start of our next Let’s Play adventure, Rainbowing Some Sixes, an online co-op play through of Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield and its expansions with my friends Andrew, Jeremy, and Dan. For the past several months we’ve been playing the classic Tom Clancy tactical shooters with the intent of going through them one by one, starting with the earliest and progressing to the most recent releases. We recently finished Ghost Recon and moved onto Rainbow Six 3 last week, and the new game was perfect time to get started on a new Let’s Play series of our co-op nights.
Already all of us are really enjoying Rainbow Six 3. The original Rainbow Six was the first game we beat together, and Andrew, Jeremy, and I (Dan didn’t join us until Ghost Recon) all had a positive experience with it. Rainbow Six 3 keeps what was most enjoyable about the first game but improves it in almost every way, and throws a heap of polish on top of it to boot. Jeremy commented that it seemed to be “the quintessential Rainbow Six game”, and I found it easy to agree with him. RS3 has a lot to offer for someone looking for a good multiplayer-based tactical shooter.
Overall, I think most of us are delighted to be moving away from Ghost Recon, a game that just took us about five months to beat. In order to keep our experiences with the Tom Clancy games interesting, we decided ahead of time we would switch between series whenever we beat a game. Ghost Recon presented an interesting problem though: it had two expansion packs, Desert Siege and Island Thunder, in addition to the primary campaign. Since none of us saw the use in returning to an expansion pack after a game was beaten, we decided to strong-arm it through the entire set of games in one go.
Needless to say, it took us a lot longer than expected.
Besides the obvious issue of syncing up everyone’s busy schedules for a night of co-op, most of the problem actually came from the expansions. The original game contained sixteen story missions, and each expansion contained eight. By that math, it should have taken us just as long to beat both expansions as it did to complete the main game.
Unfortunately, the expansions also came with what most of us perceived to be a drastic spike in difficulty. It was perhaps more subtle in Desert Siege, but noticeable in Island Thunder. Whereas we might finish have previously finished one or two missions of the main campaign in a single sitting, we were suddenly becoming bogged down in hours-long trial and error sessions against frustratingly hard enemies.
In fact, it’s not unfair to say that the AI cheated quite a bit in Island Thunder. If an enemy soldier became aware of your position, it almost certainly spelled immediate doom since enemies seemed to possess uncanny accuracy and instant reflexes. Therefore, the only way to beat each level was through trial and error to memorize troop locations. And even then you weren’t guaranteed a perfect play through. We played some missions for several hours on a few nights. Some of those nights we didn’t even beat the damn levels. Hell, I have recordings of us starting the first expansion in the middle of March. It’s really taken us that long since then get through them.
Now, it would be unfair to say that Ghost Recon is merely a broken game in some way. It’s not. It’s definitely hard, but otherwise its a wonderful game that really encourages tactical thinking and teamwork. Each mission gives you a lot of freedom in how you can approach your goals, and so there’s a lot of active strategizing that goes into each mission. And man, when you manage to pull off your plan just right, you feel like you’re the marines from Zero Dark Thirty. Besides that, the game can be ran in native resolution, and the graphics still hold up for a game from 2001.
I’m happy to report, though, that Rainbow Six 3 retains all of it’s challenge but dials back the unfair deaths by a substantial amount (you can hear me expressing my relief towards the beginning of the second episode). Yes, we do still get killed quite a bit, but the difference this time is that we aren’t feel quite so cheated by it. It won’t take us five months to beat the game, at any rate (at least we hope).
Thanks for watching and enjoy the weekend!