First Impressions: Will Ubisoft find another pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow?
For Xbox Live owners, the big draw to the Rainbow Six series is online multiplayer. This is where the games really shine, although various issues like the aforementioned RS3 lean bug and Black Arrow's spawn camping have polarized gamers. Fortunately, Ubisoft actually listens to their customers and is proactively addressing these issues to improve gameplay.
We will get 10 maps out of the box, with more eventually available via downloadable content. You can choose from the familiar Red Team or Green Team, though PS2 owners will be able to play as a Rainbow member or a Mercenary. Gamemodes include Survival, Team Survival, Sharpshooter, Retrieval (capture the flag, but with a canister instead of a flag), and Total Conquest (similar to king of the hill). But the big draw will be the new Persistent Elite Creation (PEC) mode.
PEC will allow you to create your own unique character that will persist in all online matches; if you don't have Xbox Live, you can't use PEC. As you play, you gain experience (XP) which you can use to upgrade various attributes like reload speed. As you level up, you can unlock new weapons, new clothing and headgear. You will also earn money to buy replacement body armor, since your armor will deteriorate as you get hit.
You can customize your character by changing various physical attributes, uniforms, camouflage patterns, and even add a logo of your own design. You also have to choose from one of four specialty classes:
This is the only class capable of carrying heavy weapons and heavy armor. The Commando's special feature is the riot shield, which is bulletproof and can be used to protect teammates.
This class will appeal to those who think guns are for wimps. The Engineer will be able to deploy gun turrets, set up security cameras, lay tripwires and proximity mines, and even build barriers to block access points.
A valuable member to any team, the Medic will be able to set up healing stations, give teammates adrenaline injections, and is the only class able to deploy the game's nastiest offensive weapon: nerve gas.
Call this the ?Sam Fisher? class, as you will get a knife, a radar scrambler, and several as yet unrevealed stealth skills.
You can only create one PEC per gamertag, so choose your specialization wisely. However, as you level up, you will gain some crossover skills; so for example, a Medic may be able to use some Commando skills. If you don't like your character, you can scrap it and create another one, but you will have to start all over on the ground floor and work your way back up again.
To avoid balance issues, Ubisoft is ensuring that a Level 40 character won't dominate those with less XP. Although you will gain certain advantages the higher you go, you can still get capped by a Level 1 newbie with a pistol if you don't play smart.