The Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six series of games (by Tom Clancy) has been around for quite some time, and actually resonate very strongly with my memories of my childhood. So I'm predisposed to being kind to them, even though truth be told most of the games were just crap.
There was a sort of chain reaction that helped to define my interests as a child, and they've lived on into my adulthood.
When I was about nine, I played Metal Gear Solid. Now, despite having a main character called "Solid Snake", which surprisingly I don't actually recall making any dirty jokes about (and trust me, that's surprising), that game was utterly astounding.
I specifically remember disliking actual firearms until I saw Die Hard, and my eight-year-old brain literally thought: "Huh, I guess real guns are kinda cool too." Until then, all I liked were laser guns.
But it was MGS that intrigued me with details of military hardware, genetics, and god knows how many other subjects. Yes, it was an educational game, and not just about firearms and tanks.
Also, I was never really a fan of war movies, since I knew quite a bit about the conditions soldiers faced in the World Wars (besides which, WW2 is really boring... stop making games about it, guys). I quickly found myself preferring the notion of police/counter-terrorist special forces, which at least most of the time are going up against certified bad-guys and they usually only killed who they had to, with the added bonus that they usually got to walk away themselves.
So it was only natural that I found myself paying attention when "tactical shooters" started to become popular.
Tom Clancy was a major player in this market. He also wrote books (that were also, believe it or not, by Tom Clancy), which I did actually read, but no I don't count him as a big influence on my style. His games however, were very interesting. At first. Until I played them.
The early Rainbow Six and other Tom Clancy games (by Tom Clancy) were just crap. Yes, I mean even for the time. The games were simply not good enough to enjoy, and I found myself uninstalling them to make room for Duke Nukem 3D, Descent 2 and so on.
But playing a bit of "RSV2" at a friend's house got me interested again, and I decided to check in on the genre of tactical shooters and see if anything decent had come out in the last few years. Given I don't like playing FPS games on consoles, I bought the PC version for cheap... and boy did I suffer for it.
Though let's save the bitching for later.
I was shocked to discover that the game was actually good, and so far it's kept me wasting far more time than is healthy trying to unlock all the guns. That's the first good thing: the selection of weapons, "armor" and camouflage patterns available to the player is excellent.
But here's the first gripe. Firstly, all the usuals are available. That's okay, it's not quite so boring because a few relative unknowns are also present. But the unlocking process is utter bullshit. It's extremely difficult to unlock some of the later guns, and since the order of the guns you unlock has no rhyme or reason, you'd better hope your favorite toys aren't towards the end. You could finish the single-player mode several times over on the highest difficulty and still be nowhere near getting that damn AK-47. Funny, since you can pick it up off the ground five minutes into the game... what's the point of this again?
Now, difficulty. Saw a guy claim that it's extremely easy and you don't even need your AI partners. Either he's lying or he only played the game on "Casual." Frankly, RSV2's difficulty edges on Monitor-Headbutting level.
Enemies are very intelligent, though their habit of screaming out their tactics betrays them. Much like CoD4, they're unfairly good shots, but at least they react to suppressing fire. But little things slowly irk you more and more. Things like how their reaction time is impossibly good. Things like how they seem to be able to head-shot you without turning around. How enemies may only spawn when the PLAYER runs past a trigger, meaning entire tactics revolving around taking up a sniping position and sending your team to clear ahead just don't do anything. How there's no grenade warning.
It made my blood-boil and leak out of my eyes when I heard the enemies cry, "Aim for their leader!" Wait a fucking minute, how do they know I'm the leader? What difference does that make?! Ubisoft, players do not like this bullshit! Realistically, the enemies would treat each of us as an equal threat, wouldn't camp in order to just kill one of us (the player, since he usually goes first), and wouldn't make suicidal attempts to kill the player at the expense of their own life, as if technically employing a human wave approach. "It doesn't matter if we AI soldiers die! We only have to take out one of their dudes, and I have no self-preservation instinct! CHAREG!!1"
But the worst, most egregious gameplay error of all, is that Ubisoft tries to lock the player into mandatory run-and-gun scenarios when they should be giving the player the freedom to choose between stealth and intense fire-fighting as equal options.
For instance, for an entire chapter of the game, you're alone. No team. I quickly gathered this was supposed to be a stealthy bit of the game, since by yourself you're at a bit of a disadvantage against the hordes of sniping, grenade-tossing, camping wankers.
I started off right. Got through a car-park, rounded a truck, picked off a few others with the silenced sniper-rifle I was glad I picked up (by the way, guys, silencers don't exist; they're called 'suppressors' and guns with suppressors are still fucking loud!)... then one area got me stuck. It didn't seem possible to get through it without triggering a massive human-wave-of-snipers-and-suicidal-camping-terrorist-drones. I eventually worked it all out aside from one guy, a sniper atop a tower. He was the guy giving me away.
So I shot him in the face before he could react, causing no alarm. Then I walked forward and triggered a massive human-wave-of-oh-christ-haven't-I-been-here-before? Worse, there was no way around the bastards and no other angles of approach - stealth segments in games need to NOT BE LINEAR!
Here I was, kitted out for stealth, without support and getting steadily pissed off. That was a hard section to pass and it wasn't the only one. This was a great chance for some stealth game-play but Ubisoft must've spent their budget for that on rendering Sam Fisher's retarded disco-light helmet. In fact, honestly, a lot of opportunities are wasted -- we spend almost the whole game in an industrial/urban environment with little exploration of stealth or sniping.
Other little niggling things get on your tits after awhile. The sound is badly mixed, with critical information being impossible to hear while other sounds deafen you (no volume controls, stupidly). The last boss is a helicopter (oh for Christ's sake). Massive gaps between checkpoints leading to frustration and rage-quitting when you die and are sent back five rooms, twenty terrorists and fifteen minutes ago for the tenth time. The "Terrorist Hunting" mode is just a way to farm points to acquire other weapons to use in Terrorist Hunting mode or to replay the campaign with if you get bored...
Problem is, you WILL want to play the campaign again. At least in the campaign you get a FEW chances for stealth and clever uses of breaching and flanking tactics.
The Terrorist Hunting mode is criminally unfair. Nowhere else in the game does the "Human Wave of Etc, Etc" problem become so apparent. You'll have guys shooting you, apparently from the shotgun they have poking out of their arse, instantaneously as you round a corner straight into them, dying instantly and fuming as your team-mates take the jerk out. But he dies happy, because you lost and he's just a fucking drone.
Unless we need a video game to train recruits for the possible upcoming war with China, I don't see why this is necessary. (/Politically Incorrect Jackass Mode.)