Let’s get right to the point…shall we? With its recent releases of Rainbow Six: Lockdown and now Rainbow Six: Critical Hour, it seems UbiSoft is hell-bent on destroying the Rainbow Six franchise. That, or this is their not-so-subtle way of saying, “we’re moving to next gen platforms, so expect more garbage like this unless you do, too!” Rainbow Six: Critical Hour is a shameless attempt at cashing in on R6 nostalgia by claiming to bring back the classic strategic and tactical elements of the original game while at the same time rebuilding them using “today’s technology.” In the end, Critical Hour really is nothing more than a confused hairball of a game that’s just another nail in the coffin of the Rainbow Six series.
The interface elements and general gameplay seem to have been ported from Lockdown, which is frankly not a good thing. The command system has been watered-down to near childlike proportions, although the requirement to use Zulu codes after every major command quickly becomes a pain. So even breeching a door means having to issue the breech command, then follow it with a confirmation that it’s ok to complete the command. While the box claims that Critical Hour brings back old standby strategic elements of the original R6 games, that’s just not true. Case in point – the tactical map. In the original PC games, you would actually pull up the map and plot waypoints for your team, creating a tension-inducing pace to the game as you would realize some of your choices were very bad. There are no waypoints in Critical Hour, just a strategic map that’s about as handy as a napkin with stick figures drawn on it. As for the tactical elements – the R6 series continues its slide into the world of arcade shooters, as the pace is fast and furious. See a bad guy, shoot him…and don’t worry about him returning fire, because just as with Lockdown, the AI can’t hit a target two feet in front of it.
Team Rainbow’s arsenal seems significantly slimmed down compared to that of R6: Black Arrow and previous games. What choices you do have feel flimsy and cheap. Guns lack any real kick, and the grenades are laughable. Good luck getting a flashbang to have any effect whatsoever, and a standard frag grenade is a cruel joke – full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Thanks to the game’s arcade nature, the single player campaign is incredibly short, which is a good thing, as having to stare at the low-quality graphics for an extended period of time would have anyone clawing their eyes out. The audio…well, it’s best to just turn your speakers off.
Let’s say you decide to take Critical Hour online. You’ll have the typical variety of Rainbow Six gameplay modes, but again, you’re limited in weaponry, and stuck with the same low-grade visuals of the single player. It’s simply not fun.
Rainbow Six used to be a strong franchise for Ubisoft, who apparently now thinks it’s OK to treat it as some sort of budget title. Critical Hour is unenjoyable by even the most hardcore fans of the franchise, and should be ignored completely. If you really need a Rainbow Six fix, fire up the copy of R6:3 or Black Arrow and see the franchise in its former glorious state.
- Gameplay: 5
- Fast action, poor AI and no strategy so to speak
- Graphics: 5
- Dated from about 1998
- Sound: 5
- Guns sound cheesy, accents and voice work are over the top
- Replay: 4
- You might enjoy it online, and it won’t take long to play through in single-player
- Overall: 5
- Stick a fork in Rainbow Six, this franchise is done
— Craig Falstaff