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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 21, 2006

My view: 'Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Critical Hour'

By Julius Pecson
Special to The Advertiser

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5 Outstanding: Add it to your collection now. A must-have.

4 Great: Buy it or rent it definitely play it.

3 Good: Worth playing despite some flaws.

2 Fair: Unless you're a fan of the license or series, don't bother.

1 Poor: You'd have more fun playing Pong.

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Game: "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Critical Hour"

Console: Xbox

Developer/publisher: Ubisoft

Genre: First-person shooter

Number of players: 1-2 (up to 16 online)

Rated: Mature

The premise: Lead the counter-terrorist task force organization known as Rainbow as you revisit classic missions of the past, now re-created and rebuilt using revamped technology.

Game play: With a proclaimed return to the franchise's tactical roots, gamers can experience seven single-player campaign missions from the classic Rainbow Six and Rogue Spear games. Whether you're storming a terrorist cell, rescuing civilians or disarming bombs, mission success involves a bit of strategy and tactical planning.

Victory also requires coordination with your teammates, as you'll need to issue orders with context-sensitive button commands to make them breach doors, scout ahead and secure a hostage.

After completing the single-player mode, players can choose to go through the missions solo or play multiplayer split-screen, cooperative and online with up to 16 players throughout 18 levels. Game types include terrorist hunts, team survival, and retrieving canisters for points, as well as a free-for-all, last-man-standing mode. There is also a character creation mode, called Persistent Elite Creation (PEC), in which you can level up and improve various statistics as you play through the multiplayer modes.

The good/bad: Everything about this game the visuals, audio, presentation, game play, story concept is completely mediocre. The single-player game is short, but that's not a bad thing, because if I had to look at those horrible graphics and play those boring missions any longer, I'd have gone crazy.

Supposedly the computer AI has been tuned for a much better and tactical type of game, but that's just not the case. While certain situations do require a minor bit of strategy, for the most part gamers can expect more of an arcade-like pace. In fact, you are even given a map that shows you the position and movement of basically all enemies in nearby rooms.

Even directing your teammates can be a pain, as breaching a door means having to issue the breach command, and then follow it with a confirmation that it's OK to complete the command. If this game was supposed to be a final sendoff or transition game to the next generation, why does it feel like an Xbox game from 2001?

My take: Even at a budget price of $29.99, I really can't recommend this game to anyone, not even dedicated fans of the license. The bottom line is that there are much better alternatives on the market than this dumbed-down version of a once-celebrated franchise.

Julius Pecson, a longtime gamer, reviews games on various consoles, including Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Game Boy Advance, for The Advertiser.