It’s been a whole year since the last Rainbow Six game, Black Arrow, and developers, Red Storm Entertainment seem to have taken a long hard look at things. From the onset Lockdown feels tighter and more intuitive than any of its predecessors and, like the protagonists within the game, have righted many of the wrongs that have gone before.
One of the first things you’ll notice is that command of your three tactically minded comrades has been tightened up. While having fewer commands for your team means less choice, it also means you’re less likely to get stuck trying to navigate a sub-menu when the air around you is filling with hot metal.
Also, your instruction cursor isn’t as finicky and slightly smarter than last time around and hence your squad is far less likely to go running off to some far flung corner of the map because you’ve accidentally targeted the wrong location, or stand there yelling “Can’t do that sir!” just because part of your cursor happens to be on a telegraph pole.
We finally get to play Sniper mode, which has been part of the PC versions of Rainbow Six since day one. Here, unsurprisingly, you get to step into Weber’s Teutonic size nines and offer squad support by squinting an eye down your telescopic lens and squeezing off caps from rooftops and moving helicopters. Despite having a slightly jittery targeting reticule that jumps around at the slightest nudge of the analogue stick, this is a slick new addition to the game that tips its baklava to Konami’s Silent Scope.
But for a game so heavily dependent on your squad, the artificial intelligence here is way short of the mark. Your supposed brothers in arms won’t always attack the most imminent threat, and they can’t be trusted to clear a room. Most enemies quizzically mutter “I think I heard something” if you approach noisily, while others seem to be programmed to react only when you inadvertently trigger their actions.
Despite being highly immersive with occasionally haute tension, Lockdown is a disappointment due almost entirely to iffy AI. It’s a flaw that’s impossible to ignore when you’re forced to play the same levels over and over just because your computer-controlled comrades are too stupid to prevent themselves from getting killed. Being shot down in flames is not an ending we can imagine Clancy writing, but unfortunately for Lockdown, war is definitely hell.