SAN FRANCISCO (05/30/2000) - As you slink down the embassy hallway, signaling to your black-clad corps to quietly clear the library of unfriendlies, you peer through the door to your left and see your objective-the foreign ambassador held hostage by terrorists. You burst through the door, swiftly sweeping the room with your M16. Except for the ambassador, the room is now still. You turn to escort the foreign dignitary from the building as your team clears the way.
Out of the corner of your eye, you detect movement. Blam! You're dead.
If this is your idea of a good time, you're going to love Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, an action/strategy game from MacSoft. The preceding scenario gives you a fair idea of what Rainbow Six (which takes its name from one of Mr. Clancy's latest literary efforts) is all about. You command an antiterrorist group through a series of missions: your main objectives are freeing hostages and killing bad guys. In traditional first-person shooters, you dash through dungeons, scattering death as you go. Applying the same techniques in Rainbow Six will get you and your team killed in a hurry-the game devotes as much thought to planning missions as to their execution.
Fans of traditional first-person shooters may find the game's mission-planning component tedious. You do have to spend a fair amount of time choosing members for the teams, selecting weapons and camouflage, and plotting the movements of each team through the structures you intend to assault. Fortunately, the first few levels of Rainbow Six allow you to play with predesigned teams and plans.
Using these defaults is a great way to get a feel for mission planning and team control-helpful when you have to assemble your own teams and plan missions in later levels.
MacSoft supplies more of those later levels by bundling the five-mission Eagle Watch pack, an add-on that PC players have to pay extra for. And if you tire of single-player missions, you can play the online version of the game against up to 15 opponents.
As fine a game as Rainbow Six is, its weak point is its artificial intelligence. The game strives for realism, but at times you'll wonder if your team members-and the terrorists-forgot to bring their brains to work.
Terrorists stand nonchalantly above the bodies of their cohorts, and your team members occasionally obstruct your view.
Macworld's Buying Advice These annoyances aside, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six-a game that demands forethought as well as an adept trigger finger-is challenging and rewarding enough that it might just hold you hostage.
RATING: 4.0 mice
PROS: Thoughtful and intense action; additional mission pack.
CONS: Artificial intelligence can be too artificial.
COMPANY: MacSoft (800/229-2714, http://www.wizworks.com/macsoft).
LIST PRICE: $50.