Athena Sword a Decade Later

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3: Athena Sword was an expansion pack released on March 9, 2004 by Ubisoft’s Milan studio. The game required the Raven Shield base game released a year prior to be played, and featured a new eight mission single player campaign set in the Mediterranean as well as five new multiplayer maps and three new online game modes, along with seven new weapons.

The base game and expansion pack were based on a heavily modified Unreal 2.0 engine and the resulting retail release required multiple patching to be brought closer to a playable state. The Athena Sword expansion pack however was widely panned upon release for its horrible map optimization, which made otherwise stout gaming machines at that time crawl even at the lowest graphics settings.

Part of the problem may have come from the fact that the base game Raven Shield was developed by Ubisoft’s Montreal studio whereas Athena Sword was developed by the Milan shop. Further driving a nail into the coffin of this phase of the Rainbow Six franchise was the development of a second expansion pack named Iron Wrath, by the Casablanca division.

That effort was so poorly hatched that the company abandoned it altogether after releasing the unfinished product (after a two year development cycle) for free to FilePlanet subscribers.

Thus Athena Sword goes down in gaming history as the last retail release for the Rainbow Six series of game utilizing the Unreal 2.0 engine.

To its credit, the game (Raven Shield and the Athena Sword expansion pack) can still be played online today as the in game server browsers still function and are populated with players, ten years later.

Not a bad looking game by today’s standards.


  1. I used to really enjoy the tactical plan and set-up in these games. I can't remember which it was where you plotted the course you were going to take and then execute it. The AI used to be a pain in the butt sometimes blocking doors etc. but on the whole it was great fun.

  2. Prior to Raven Shield the games allowed for four separate teams to be deployed and you could actually have the camera trace the map through the route specified sort of like a virtual walk-through (without the enemies of course). They continued this in RVS and Athena Sword, but went down to three teams for some reason which made having a separate sniper more difficult to employ. I remember spending a great many hours just incrementally perfecting a tactical assault. Unrealistic as hell, but loads of fun!

  3. So, if i want to merge all weapons (RvS,AS,IW) all maps (RvS, Mediterranean maps, IW maps), and everything into one package, should I do it with the base game, the Athena Sword or the Iron Wrath as a base?

    I mean which of the 3 is the most stable/complete/robust to handle the combination im abou to make. The RavenShield 2.0 mod uses the base game as a combo pack.


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