Rainbow Six III is a squad-based tactical shooter set in the beginning of the 21st Century. You lead a counter-terrorism unit called RAINBOW, assembled from elite soldiers from NATO countries. As can be expected from the Tom Clancy universe, the story and missions essentially boil down to there are 'bad guys' going 'bad stuff' and you have to stop them. There's a lot of nostalgia surrounding the reputation of this game, particularly around it's depiction of realistic squad operations in tight environments. From a realism perspective there are significant issues with the game, but from a gameplay perspective this is one of the finest tactical shooters ever made. Most engagements occur at less than 30 metres, and enemy fire is accurate, responsive and highly lethal, so the margin of error is small. It's essential that you use proper positioning, team tactics, and the appropriate tactical aids to suit the environment.
In reality, special operations are meticulously planned down to the smallest detail. Typically, the environment is reconstructed in a training ground, missions are planned by the second, and the mission is practised for hundreds of hours before the real mission ever takes place. If an event demands an urgent response, with no time for practice, special operations still still require an extremely detailed mission plan. This aspect of special operations is realistically modelled in the game using pre-mission planning tools. You are given a map of the entire grounds and can set a sequence of way points, go-codes, and special actions (e.g. throw flashbang, face direction). You can choose to have the AI play out the entire mission, where you will only be issuing go-codes from the command centre. Alternatively, you can play as a single operative and command the squad in person. You can switch between squad members, queue orders across several squads, and issue a single go-code to activate all orders at once (e.g. breach and clear a room from three different entrances at once).
Friendly AI is fairly limited in the unmodified game to either following the planning sequences or following the player controlled operative. Planning ensures that team members will follow precise instructions, but they'll be unable to do anything else. Without pre-mission planning, friendly AI is limited to following the player and firing at visible enemies; they will not face to cover the player's side and rear flanks. Enemy AI is limited to three behaviours: (1) Patrol; (2) Stand and shoot; and (3) Walk towards the sound of gun fire. Raven Shield 2.0 (ModDB
) is a graphics and AI improvement mod which dramatically alters friendly and enemy AI. However, enemy AI will still have difficulty hearing gunshots from afar, and can't work in groups or use tactical positioning.
The equipment available is fairly standard to shooters, including a variety of standard primary (e.g. M16A2 assault rifle) and secondary firearms (e.g. M92 pistol), as well as tactical aids in the form of grenades (e.g. flashbang, concussion, fragmentation, smoke). Given the limited range of engagements there is virtually no bullet drop, and small arms accuracy is depicted realistically. Weapons damage is also depicted realistically, but only for unarmoured opponents.
Armour protection is not modelled realistically. Armour gives users a maximum of 2 hit points, which affects the entire body. Regardless of where targets are shot, they will no longer be able to run. The US National Institute of Justice (NIJ) classifies levels of armour protection for police officers. Level III armour consists of two solid metal plates covering the front and back of the torso. In reality, Level III armour stops virtually an unlimited number of pistol calibre rounds and at least half a dozen 5.56x45mm NATO rounds, with very little backface signature (i.e. deformation of the inside of the armour plate). However, in the game a single 5.56x45mm NATO round, or three 9x19mm Parabellum rounds, will incapacitate the target.
Fragmentation grenades are not modelled realistically. Confusingly, frag grenades have their real world effects split between frag and concussion grenades in the game. Frag grenades only do damage within a blast radius. Concussion grenades will kill everyone in a small room through the concussive wave reflecting off the walls, floor and ceiling, but are completely ineffective outside of small rooms. Conspicuously absent from the equipment are wide angle night vision goggles (NVG), though this may be because the technology was not developed or publicly known when the game was being developed.