Rainbow Six: Vegas (360) – Review

Vegas - Cover

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas, developed and published by Ubisoft, is a tactical first person shooter that extends the concept of the previous Rainbow Six games, pitting you as a special operative against terrorist forces. The game provides an well-rounded single player campaign that requires you to use your resources and your team wisely, while the multiplayer definitely has a lot of play styles and maps in addition to a ranking system in order to keep it fresh. Combined with great visuals reflecting Sin City, Rainbow Six: Vegas is definitely a strong game for next-gen systems.

Story: B+

You play as Logan Keller, part of Rainbow Six as you’re about to take out a terrorist cell in Mexico, led by Irena Morales. While on the mission just before her capture, Irena blows up the structure of the mining facility that they are in, causing Logan to be separated from his team. When he gets out, he finds that he’s been ordered to Las Vegas, as terrorists have seized several casinos and other structures within the city, sending bomb threats to the publics and causing mass panic. The events of Irena’s near capture and the attack on Las Vegas are not considered to be coincidence, so Logan with his new team must track down the source of the terrorist threat and find out the real meaning of the attack.

The story is told through both in-game conversations as well as through mini-movies that show up in your HUD from your communications support. This helps to keep the focus on gameplay as the story itself isn’t that strong, and shows a very obvious weakness from a not-unexpected plot twist. As I’ve not played other Rainbow Six games, but familiar with Tom Clancy’s basic writing, this doesn’t feel like one of his strongest stories but well in line with the usual genre that Clancy writes in.

Gameplay: A-

The single player game pits you through 6 missions, each divided into 3 or 4 stages, as you follow and disrupt the terrorist activities about Las Vegas. It uses a first-person view, and uses a minimal HUD that displays where your next target is, and the status of your equipment and teammates. Like many next-gen shooters, there’s no damage indicator on the HUD, but instead, your vision will go blurry and darken, eventually leading to death if you don’t get to cover, but while in cover and not taking damage, you’ll gradually recover and ready to go out again. At the start of each mission and at equipping points through the levels, you can select and customize your equipment, using up to two rifles, one pistol, and two throwable objects, as well as adding scopes and silencers. You can also pick up guns dropped by foes throughout the levels if you run low on ammo. All weapons are available from the start, basically allowing you to pick the approach you want to take to fighting the terrorists.

Vegas - ScreenshotYou are generally accompanied by two additional men who are under your full command. You can give them a set of basic commands, generally directing them to a specific area for them to take cover and defend and attack the foes. At doors, you can have them line up and prepare for entry, either with a quick run-in and gun, a toss of a grenade to faze the foes, or to completely blast the doors off if needed. You can use a snake-cam to peek around beforehand and identify targets that your teammates will aim to take out first if you’re about to head into a crowded situation, as well as even having them burst in from another door in the room. There’s also rope lines that you can have your team use to drop down quickly as to help flank the enemy. At other times, you need to instruct one of your teammembers to hack a computer system or rig something with explosives while you defend his actions from the enemy. Should one of your teammembers go down, you have a limited amount of time to either have the other team member revive him with a health booster, or doing it yourself (particularly if the other member goes down as well). If you fail to rescue downed members, you’ll have to restart the mission over again from the last checkpoint. Of course, if you go down, the mission also requires a restart, which is sort of annoying that you can’t have your teammembers come over to help you up just like you can do with them.

The game requires you to use cover and your teammates effectively to make it through the campaign. The initial levels allow for full frontal assaults but as you get deeper into the plot, you’ll find that you’ll start to using cover more effectively: sticking to walls and using blind fire at times, then peeking out to get off a shot. You’ll also find it’s necessary to stop and take shots as your accuracy then improves. Stealth also becomes important, as certain battles can be made much easier by taking out targets quickly and silently. Flanking also becomes a key maneuver, allowing your team to direct the enemy’s attention so you can get on their side or get around to a more advantageous spot. Your team is equipped with smoke grenades and infrared goggles, allowing you to move in for closer kills under the cover of smoke. The computer AI is generally pretty good; you can distract them with flanking moves, but they will also flank you and use both fragmentation and smoke grenades against you, thus requiring that you make sure that you take down all of them as you work through the levels lest be taken out from an attack on your rear. By the last few levels, if you haven’t gotten all the tactical aspects of gameplay down, you’ll find it very tough to make it through, but it’s a sufficiently decent challenge on the regularly difficulty; there’s a “realistic” mode that can really challenge the player. The largest nit I had with the single player game comes at the last stage, where you need to defend one of your teammates while they hack a system. The enemy, while he’s doing this, launches a frontal assault on you that you have to make sure they don’t cross a certain line otherwise the hack fails and you have to restart, but (as it took me several times to figure out) you then get flanked from the rear by a couple of opponents that if not dealt with immediately will cause the mission to fail. It would have helped if radio chatter by your teammates made you aware of this occurrence as it was only by trial and error I discovered why I kept failing this point.

Vegas - ScreenshotThe multiplayer portion of the game, now with additional modes added in through Xbox Live, really is almost a different game all-together. In addition to the usual facial options to set up your character, you can also use the Xbox Live camera to mask your face onto your character. Standard multiplayer modes are here, though not necessarily called your usual names: You have both individual and team deathmatches, capture the single flag, a capture-and-hold game, and base defending. There’s also co-operative modes for both the story and Terrorist Hunt, which uses the multiplayer maps as the battlegrounds. Depending on how well you do, you gain experience points that are tracked for your player. As you gain experience, you’ll go up ranks that will unlock new equipment and outfitting options for your character, generally which balance your resistance to damage against your speed. Basically, this feels like good ol’ Counterstrike with some more realism and more movement and attacking options added, with the addition of everyone being able to build up their character as they progress in the game. Probably the only major issue with some of maps is that there are areas that favor one side over another due to choke points, or other maps that can be overly large for a small number of players.

Value/Replayability: A-

The single player game took me somewhat more than 10 hours to work through. There are multiple difficulty levels but the level layouts and missions aren’t going to change, thus you’ll have an idea of where terrorists are in certain areas which takes some of the replayability out of it. The multiplayer game is a great addition to the main campaign and really is where the game gets its value from.

Graphics: A-

The game looks good for a next-generation game; it captures the flavor of Las Vegas very well with both the bright lights and the somewhat seedy underbelly. The general architecture of the levels, while reusing parts throughout the levels, doesn’t feel repetitive at all. There’s just some areas that feel like there’s too much bloom or glare use, and look washed out in colors due to these effects, but certainly nothing significantly wrong with it.

Audio: A-

The game has the sounds of combat battles down pat, as well as the chit-chat among terrorists as you eavesdrop on them. Your teammates respond to your commands and comment on how the battle is going, though it would have helped if they had a few more random lines to pick from at times. Voice work seems good, as all parts sound like the actor got into the role.

Overall: A-

Rainbow Six: Vegas works well as both a single-player tactical shooter and a multiplayer game, with maybe the multiplayer getting a bit more polish to it, but given how some shooters will ignore one mode in favor of the other, the balance between the two play types is very good here. With additional downloadable content, the game is definitely worth getting for any fan of first person shooters, particularly those that prefer a more tactical game.

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