As the Tom Clancy Rainbox Six franchise becomes more and more mainstream the need to dumb down the content and gameplay to appeal to the new wider audience has become apparent.
The international squad of Rainbow Six gets its latest outing in Ubisoft’s Lockdown on the PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC, but rather than appease the die-hard fans, it's clear from the start that Red Storm, the games developers, have gone for mass appeal.
Is that a bad thing? It is if you’ve played previous versions and been chomping at the bit for more. However newcomers to the game will revel in the ease of use and lack of knowledge needed in counter terrorism measures to get into the action.
Once again, you play Ding Chavez, the confident team leader, who never leaves a man behind. As for the storyline, it’s more of the same counter-terrorism stuff as you try to stop a bioterrorist threat from escalating out of control.
As for the gameplay, gone are the long planning sessions at the beginning, where you can kit your team out with an array of weapons, grenades, etc., and plan your mission on detailed maps before even a shot is fired. Now you've got in-game arrows pointing you in the right direction for example as you think on your feet to stay alive.
For the most part this means sending in your team mates to clear rooms or take down enemy tangos as they appear although you do get help along the way.
Depending on the version you opt for - Xbox or PS2 - will depend for some reason, on how much help you get. The PS2 players, it seems are deemed even more mainstream than their Xbox counterparts and the PlayStation 2 version on earlier levels highlights bad guys with big white flashing rectangles so you can see them clearly compared to the Xbox who get no such help - these markers are so visible that failing to see them would suggest a trip to the opticians.
Beyond that, you also get a heart beat monitor mode, which differs slightly in the two versions, that allows you to check for heart beats on the other side of the door. For us, this took away the fear of what lurks behind closed doors and certainly dulled the experience.
At the games core is the breaching and clearing of rooms, and fans of the franchise will be pleased to hear this is still present. A feature tagged on to the back of this that we liked was the ability to get your team in position and then breach the room yourself from a second door (if available) it certainly makes things a little easier rather than trying to all bundle through the one door and hope for the best. As in previous versions, the options are plentiful as to whether you simply open the door or blast it down and then everything on the other side.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Lockdown has simplified everything as far as it can and for some this will be too much.
While this will appeal to the pick-up-and-play gamer - you can even save at any point when playing on the normal rather than challenge difficulty setting - for us the game has lost that key element that stood the game out from yet another tactical team based game.
This game isn’t one to be shunned and left on the shelf, it's just the game lacks that certain sparkle. An also ran rather than a must have.