capsule review

Rogue Spear

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You meticulously lay out a plan to counterattack a terrorist group that threatens society. The next question is whether to carry out the mission personally, or trust artificial intelligence to make a smooth execution.

Most computer games fall either into the Strategy or Action category, but Rogue Spear is a rare hybrid of the two -- tailored for both strategists who like to develop a plan and observe as it unfolds and for players who crave first-person shooter action. While Rogue Spear for the PC was released in September of 1999 -- in computer game terms well over an era ago -- MacSoft has recently made it available for the Mac, and the game hasn't lost any appeal over time.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Rogue Spear is the sequel to the popular Rainbow Six, based on Tom Clancy's novel of the same name. When Rainbow Six debuted on the Mac in late 1999, it shipped with the Eagle Watch mission pack -- providing additional maps and weapons. Like Rainbow Six, the Mac version of Rogue Spear includes a bonus, as well: the Urban Operations mission pack (PC users initially had to pay extra for this).

Rogue Spear centers around leading an international Rainbow antiterrorist team on missions. First you construct a team from a predefined set of members, each with different skills, and then plan a detailed operation. Weapons and equipment are chosen for each individual. You map routes through the game (some of which are based on real-world locations), determine where the team will stop to receive orders, and decide whether to attack the enemy or silently infiltrate. The player observes the game through the eyes of each team leader. When the planning is complete, the game's artificial intelligence can direct the team, or you can take matters into your own hands and perform the mission in first-person mode.

Not a Seamless Port

Rogue Spear's success on the PC is due, in large part, to its enthusiastic community of Internet players. Unfortunately, on the Mac, Rogue Spear's multiplayer mode only works with other Rogue Spear-for-Mac users; it is incompatible with PC-based Rogue Spear. At press time, MacSoft was working on a patch to enable cross-platform multiplayer gaming, but no release date is available. Another problem is that add-ons for the PC version -- called mods -- additional weapons, uniforms, and maps, cannot run on the Mac version without modification. MacSoft provided no information about whether PC mod compatibility would be improved in the forthcoming patch.

Watch as your team carries out your plan.
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