Have you ever hugged the walls of your hallway and snuck around your house when no one was looking? Have you ever kicked open the door to your shed to feel the thrill of storming a room? Have you ever been busted by your wife after leaning out of a doorway and shooting her in the butt with a rubber band? For many of us the answer to these questions is yes, and now there is finally a next generation alternative to playing kitchen commando.
Console? – Xbox 360
Time played? - 12+ hours.
Completed? - Single Player on Normal, various Terrorist Hunts
Experience in Franchise? – Rainbow Six, R6 Rogue Spear, R6 3
Tango? – Down
Rainbow Six Vegas is the first game in the franchise to feel like a direct sequal to Rainbow Six 3 for the original Xbox. You can see your gun in front of you, you only can control one member of your team, and the voice activated commands still work through your Live headset. The menu system, weapon options, and at least compentent A.I. are all also very close to R6 3. The only differences separating the two games are changes for the better.
For those that played this franchise on the Xbox you will probably remember that while the game told you that you were in different locals around the world, it always felt like you and your team were assaulting "Box Town" or "Box City" or "The Republic of Boxes." Ubisoft would throw in a little something here and there to try to convince you that you were where they said you were, but they always came off a little hammy. Like the terrorists in Cuba that wore Hawaiian shirts.
In Rainbow Six Vegas this is not the case. While the graphics probably won't have your jaw dragging the ground like some other recent Xbox 360 shooters, the overall quality and consistency is by far one the best of any Ubisoft game currently available for the next generation. Everything is up to par to convince you that you are in Vegas, or a dam, or a secret laboratory.
Each area is very different, ranging from gorgeous to so-so and all are very theme oriented. Vegas is bright and full of color, like how a kaleidoscope is bright and full of color. Sometimes I switch to heat vision just to make the terrorist stand out from the slot machines and wall ads. Then there is a dam area that is very plain and mostly full of concrete and glass. Obviously I know that, yes, dams are made of these things so I can't fault the graphics for displaying them but that's about all there is to look at in the level. No dam tour guides, no dam gift shops, just a lot of dam level. I will give them that each area feels very unique and that helps break up the monotony.
Before all that is a level that is becoming a Tom Clancy staple. That rising hotbed of terrorist activity, Mexico. After this and previous Ubisoft adventures south of the border I've had my fill of the French's idea of what Mexico is. It's like they read old 5th grade texts books on adobe houses and enchiladas and just went from there. Honestly if the city was any browner I would start to think it was made of chocolate. Either way I've been there, shot terrorists there, please send me somewhere else. I half expected to round a corner and bump into Capt. Mitchell.
"Hi, Scott! Where are you off too in such a hurry?" I would say.
"Oh, hi Logan. I'm going to the train yard."
I would clap him on the shoulder and give him a chuckle, "No kidding? That's where I'm going! What are the odds?"
In the end it doesn't really matter what exactly you are looking at and how pretty or dull it looks because none of that takes away from the core game play. This installment is more proof that if something is fun, repetition is a good thing. I don't think it is physically possible for me to become bored with breaching doors and shooting terrorists in close quarters. The entire game is just a leap frog from room to room while you flashbang, shoot, and explode your way to the end of the level.
This simple ideal allows for so many different ways to attack an area that you'll never have the same experience twice. You might decide to go in from the basement, or smash through the sun roof. You might decide to use a silenced submachine gun or an automatic shotgun. You might even decide to pretend you are the Terminator and just carry a bulletproof shield in front of you while you shoot bad guys in the knees. More than likely you will pick one of these options and play through the level then go back and try it over and over again in every way that you, or your friends, can think of.
And your friends will come up with some crazy ways of hitting these levels. Up to four people on coop means four very different mentalities of how to kill a lot of people. The best times are when you all decide to do something different. You can really see people's personalities come out in their equipment and armor decisions and four is the perfect number to prevent a lot of over lapping of duties. You all work as a team while retaining your individual functions on the battle field.
Your team is a lot like the Ghostbusters, except instead of catching ghosts, you maim and kill international war criminals. That is a step up in my book.
That is, of course, if you can actually connect in and play a game. I have tried on multiple occasions to hop into the public pool of Rainbow players only to have my game either kick me off of Live or freeze altogether. I am told that my frustrating problems are common. I'm also told that if I can get connected once solidly without problems then the rest of my game play is usually bug free. I'll believe it when I see it.
The single player alone is enough to make the game worth it, but if you want to have a good time with the multiplayer then you should have a solid group of very patient friends.
Bottom line, if you like tactical shooters you need to stack up at your local game store, prepare for entry, and open and play on Zulu.