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Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow review

It's the return of the original full spectrum warriors! See? Spectrum? Rainbow? Oh, forget it, says GamesMaster

What on earth would Tom Clancy do if the world suddenly decided to stop all the hostility and, y'know, everyone just tried to get along? No more trouble hotspots, everyone being the best of chums? Luckily for him there's more chance of a Spice Girls reunion, so those Rainbow fellas will probably be storming embassies years from now, storing extra ammo in their Zimmer frames.

Ought to prove amusing when it comes around. But, for now, they're still in their prime and gagging to have another pop at some suitably dastardly bad guys. And here come those bad guys, a gaggle of evil military types trying to spark a war and take control of some rather lucrative oil fields. The dastards!

Naturally they have to be stopped, and naturally the battle to thwart their evil schemes takes place in a variety of exotic and some not-so-exotic world locations.

It starts off about as unexotic as it gets, with the Rainbow gang called in to deal with a situation in a London Underground station that bears little resemblance to any station we've ever passed through. It's more like a New York subway station that's been tarted up with a few signs from the good old tube. But things pick up once you move onto the slightly more glamorous terrorism venues of the south of France and Eastern Europe.

The gameplay is unsurprisingly familiar and the combination of action and squad command works as well as ever, making it easy to alternate between issuing orders and getting in some proper trigger-time. The bad guys have been to terrorist school and learned a few new tricks along the way, calling for backup and, on occasion, using hostages as human shields. This can result in some tense standoffs, especially when losing a hostage means failing the mission. Unfortunately, getting around those situations often means remembering when a terrorist is going to do his hostage-brandishing (it's scripted into the game) and making sure you send the boys in to shoot him first.

There are other little annoyances, such as the slavishly linear levels and the areas blocked off by boxes, furniture or fences that your highly trained Rainbow chaps are unable to get over. All part of the game structure, natch, but it often seems daft. And compared to the latest Xbox stuff the engine's really starting to show its age. But then, it still offers a great mix of shooting and strategy so, until Rainbow Six 4 comes along, this is the one to aim for.

Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow is released for Xbox on 20 August

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Alternative namesTom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow