Daily Download

Special Features

What 40 games made our most sought after titles of '04? Find out!

GameSpy Grudge


Rogue Spear: Black Thorn (PC)
Enough with the expensive map packs already!
By - Tom Chick

Rainbow Six is almost four years old, which is pretty ancient in computer years. 1999's Rogue Spear was a significant update, but the engine still looks tired next to the latest first-person shooters. But that's not stopping Red Storm and Ubi Soft from trotting out Rogue Spear: Black Thorn, which is essentially a stand-alone map pack. If you've never played the game before, great: pick up Black Thorn and see what you've been missing. But if you're already a fan and you want these new maps (there's not much else here), then open your wallet and fork over thirty bucks. Plus tax. Nevermind that with most games, you can download this sort of stuff for free.

Ding Chavez to the Rescue (Again)

Black Thorn does offer some good single-player missions. The premise is that a terrorist group is imitating previous incidents for some shadowy reason. It's up to good ol' Ding Chavez and company to stop them, taking exactly nine missions to do it. The copycat angle is clear early on, beginning with a hostage rescue at the Japanese embassy in Venezuela, obviously a nod to the standoff in Peru's Japanese embassy in 1996. Next up is perhaps Black Thorn's best map, an Italian cruise ship patterned after the Achille Lauro, which was seized by Palestinian hijackers in 1985. If there's a sign the old Rainbow Six engine has any life left in it, it's this superlative map. There are a variety of tight corridors and wide-open areas with multiple vertical planes, all created with sharp vivid textures that manage to be opulent without looking garish. This is the sort of work that makes you forget you just paid thirty bucks for a map pack.

Rogue Spear: Black Thorn Stats

Game Type: Action
Developer: Red Storm Entertainment
Publisher: UbiSoft
Multiplayer: LAN, Internet, GameSpy Arcade
Min. Sys. Reqs: Windows 95/98/2000; P266; 16-bit color video card; 64MB RAM; 550MB hard drive space; mouse; DirectX 7compatible sound card.

Buy Rogue Spear: Black Thorn now!
Unfortunately, the story sags after this. Perhaps I need to read the international news more closely, but I didn't recognize any of the other supposed copycat terrorist incidents. When did terrorists hijack trains in Amsterdam? A bus station in South Africa and a hospital in Thailand? When was the Secretary General of the UN kidnapped from an Italian hotel? When did they seize a Greek auto show? Amusingly enough, in Black Thorn, the terrorist plan to take over the Greek auto show is foiled and their contingency plan is to hole up in a nearby empty convention center and take the security guards hostage. Whew. Imagine the international shock and outrage if the Greek auto show was disrupted! It's pretty exciting early on to think you'll be replaying recent events, but this feeling doesn't sustain Black Thorn for very long. It quickly reverts to the realm of the hypothetical. It's worth noting that Red Storm removed a tenth mission that would have taken place on a hijacked airliner.

Many of these maps are compelling single-player experiences because they force you to use the mission planning to coordinate your teams. In the earlier games, you could usually do an end run around the mission planning and just play solo. Drop yourself into an insertion zone and do a Rambo on those terrorists. But a lot of Black Thorn's map seem intentionally built to make this impossible. For instance, on the cruise ship, you have to simultaneously disarm two bombs in separate locations.

Hostages are kept in two separate locations in the Dutch train station, and the guards are communicating by radio. Unless you rescue both groups simultaneously, the other group will be summarily executed at the first sign of trouble. In the huge open lobby of the South African bus station, you'll need to enter from multiple locations to take out all the terrorists at once. In the Italian hotel, there are terrorist snipers on a nearby rooftop covering the rescue area. You have to take them out as you storm the guards. These missions all require that you use Rogue Spear's planning and go codes to coordinate actions among multiple teams.

Next: Out of Africa...

home     � send feedback     � send news     � corporate     � jobs     � developers     � advertise     � legal stuff    

© 1996-2004 GameSpy Industries.