The Tom Clancy written strategic black-ops sim series Rainbow Six takes its latest form on the PS2 as Rainbow Six: Lockdown. This time the Rainbow squad heroes 'Ding' and friends have been send in to defuse the situation built up when a group of Terrorists get their thieving hands on a supervirus capable of making a serious dent in any given countries population figures in a matter of minutes. Naturally Ding and company go about making the world safe again by hanging around outside rooms closed doors before going in all guns blazing and moving on although this time around the game feels a little different.
The way in which the series has evolved in Lockdown means that the player is presented with a more accessible experience and slicker interface making the game feel less simulation heavy than its many fore-runners, whether or not you will consider this a change for the better will of course depend on your preference of gameplay style. Fans of the tactical planning and prepping of the PC iterations earlier in the series may find Lockdown lacking somewhat while players preferring more pacey play will enjoy it more.
One major addition to the game which helps move things along is the motion sensor you are equipped with which means that you don't have to be so careful when planning your room clearances as you can gain information on the enemy behind the door before you go in, the fact that it's a motion sensor means that you can't rely on it entirely but you can at least get a headcount.
Lockdown will take you through 16 levels of action set in a variety of locations around the globe, the feel of the levels themselves also varies nicely as well but you will find that the game can start to feel a bit samey gameplay wise as you progress through the majority of the game.
Go! Go! Go!
Of course being that it's a Rainbow Six game you are given access to a gadgets and guns cache that would not look out of place in a Bond film with which to shock the 'Tangos' when the Go word is issued and the doors come flying off, in fact you can now get out a shotgun and blast doors right off to supplement the more traditional kick-and-grenade entrance, further to this you can in some cases take a battering ram to the door although the usefulness of this is questionable in most cases.
You can tell your squad to wait, follow or scout via the D-pad and make plans for them to follow, all of this is handled through a nice easy to use interface and the plans can be set in motion once everyone is in place with a single command. As well as your ever-useful motion sensor you have access to heatvision and nightvision modes to go in with or to help you to plan.
As an aside from the traditional Rainbow Six gameplay you will be required at the beginning of some levels to step into the boots and behind the scope of the groups sharpshooter Dieter Weber. As Weber you will cover the squad as they begin their missions and how good you do at it will determine to an extent how much trouble you'll have later on in the level.
The game by its very nature is heavily dependant on its artificial intelligence routines, the rest of you squad and the enemy Tangos are both A.I controlled although your planning will obviously factor into how well your boys perform, nevertheless the A.I in Lockdown does let you and the game down sometimes. There will be instances where it will function perfectly well and the squad will clear a room with ruthless efficiency against an enemy who will try to fight back just as well, but there are also times when both your boys and the Tangos will put on a spectacular show of stupidity and inaccuracy, the enemy will react badly sometimes to noises you make and although this is common to many stealthy games it doesn't mean its acceptable, as for your squad well you know in cartoons when two or more characters try comically to run through a door at once with predictable results? Yeah that can happen sometimes.
Sights and Sounds
Graphically the PS2 version of Lockdown doesn't measure up to the Xbox versions graphical standard as you would expect for the older console, what's also true is that the graphics aren't spectacular by PS2 standards either, sure it looks better than its predecessors in the series but the PS2 is capable of more as has been demonstrated in many eye-popping games of late. Some new effects and touches are present such as the way your own visor gets distorted when you take damage or the extra added detail in the character models so it's not that Lockdown is a bad looking game but it's just that it could have looked better.
One order that would have been welcomed by me would be the command to tell your team-mates to shut up and stay quiet permanently, as with many games of this ilk you computer guided friends have a selection of one-liners and remarks which they will issue repeatedly throughout the game and you will most likely tire of hearing them very quickly. The soundbites are different for each team member and each team member has a rough personality which is hammered out by the cutscenes but they will still get on your nerves before long.
The musical score won't annoy too much as the developers have gone the way of using it to emphasise specific scenes during the game while at other times it will fade down to silence.
Another part of the game where PS2 and Xbox differ is the online sections, both consoles allow you to go online with the game but what you're allowed to do there differs. Unfortunately in the PS2 version you don't get to have a PEC (Persistent Elite Creation) character which was a massively good idea on Xbox were you could develop a character RPG style and play from a selection of classes. What you do have on the PS2 version is some standard classic online team deathmatching action and while this doesn't compare to the Xbox PEC mode it isn't like good online PS2 shooters are everywhere these days so fans of online play should still enjoy this as it is pretty good compared with its competition on PS2.
Rainbow Six: Lockdown is a varied experience, there are parts where the game shows improvement over its forerunners and times where it seems to be not as good, the A.I astonishingly manages to demonstrate both. Also the altered gameplay style to favour faster gameplay over simulation will either please or annoy the player depending on what type of game you like and how much you liked the previous Rainbow games style.
Rainbow Six fans will no doubt enjoy Lockdown unless they are really at odds with the altered gameplay and due to the differences in graphics and online features between the versions I am going to have to issue that videogaming cliché - If you have the choice, get the Xbox version.