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Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (Xbox 360) artwork

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (Xbox 360) review

"In 1998, writer Tom Clancy released his novel Rainbow Six, the story of a counter terrorist organization. The organization’s roster was comprised of personnel from several NATO organizations with its home in Hereford, England, alongside the British SAS (Special Air Service). Rainbow was put together in order to respond to terrorist threats around the world quickly and quietly. Teams were made of the very best of the military from around the world. Vegas 2 can only be described as the “crayon” version of Rainbow Six: Vegas. "

In 1998, writer Tom Clancy released his novel Rainbow Six, the story of a counter terrorist organization. The organization’s roster was comprised of personnel from several NATO organizations with its home in Hereford, England, alongside the British SAS (Special Air Service). Rainbow was put together in order to respond to terrorist threats around the world quickly and quietly. Teams were made of the very best of the military from around the world. The first Rainbow Six game was developed while the novel was still being written by Clancy; the series has defined and redefined tactical shooters since its release. With the original Rainbow Six: Vegas, the series moved away from the typical methodically planned missions, and went with a more mainstream, “on the spot” tactical planning style. Taking notice of the success of the title, Ubisoft decided to release a second Rainbow Six: Vegas game. The goal was to keep much of what was already working, and spice up the formula with some new features.

Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 is, basically, an “expansion pack” to its predecessor. Despite being a stand alone game, Vegas 2 feels very much like an add on to the original, keeping many of the same controls, enemies, sounds, weapons, and customization options with minimal changes to the previously successful formula. The single player campaign is brand new, though it overlaps the story of the first Rainbow Six: Vegas. Those who have played the original game will get a little bit more out of the story for the single player, lackluster as it is. The game could easily be played without having previous knowledge or experience with any of the previous Rainbow Six games, however. The story of the game is mostly told in the form of cut scenes where the player’s HUD and weapons disappear, and can only move and watch the events in front of him or her unfold. While this is a great way to insert players into the story, it can be frustrating at times due to the feeling of helplessness that this style of story telling can instill. The story itself isn’t anything spectacular, and is “designed to get you shooting as many terrorists as possible.”

Despite feeling like an add on in all other aspects, Vegas 2 excels over the original enough for one to consider it more then just a new coat of paint on an old fence. Vegas 2 features what looks like almost brand new models for the old weapons and character. Everything is now much more “high definition” then before. For those who haven’t played the original, the game is mostly played in a first person perspective, so hands and guns are an important part of the presentation of the game. All firearms you’ll encounter throughout the game are extremely detailed, down to bullets in transparent magazines, fire selector indicators, and rail mounts. Texture in your clothing, as well as that of your teammates can be seen up close. What truly separates Vegas 2 from the original Vegas is the severely different color and lighting schemes. The original Rainbow Six: Vegas featured a large amount of casinos, where the areas where drenched with neon lights and darkened areas, with screens almost being bleached orange and yellow. Vegas 2 can only be described as the “crayon” version of Rainbow Six: Vegas. Things are much more colorful this time around, with many more outdoor environments in the daytime, and a distinct lack of the bleaching effect of the neon signs which were so common place in the original Vegas game.

Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 is not the tactical shooter it might appear to be. Despite your character being able to take very little punishment, and the ability to command a team for most missions, Vegas 2 lacks the precise tactical planning that was required of players in the earlier Rainbow Six games. Taking on an identity closer to that of other main stream first person shooters, Vegas 2 features tactical planning that is basically limited up to the next room the player’s team is coming up on.

Early levels are poorly designed, with generally only a single or two entry points into a room. Later levels feature rooms with more entry points, but enemies are placed so that it the game basically means choosing the right door with the help of your handy Snake Cam, which allows you to look under doors, order your team to prepare to enter the room, and order them to blow open the door, or throw a grenade through the door. The team will then proceed to charge into the room in an almost laughable single file manner.

This doesn’t mean you can rely on the fire team to do all of the work, however. In fact, despite vastly improved accuracy for the AI partners from the original Vegas game, the team still has fairly bad accuracy. It is up to you to kill the remaining enemies. How is this accomplished? As stated before, the player can’t take too many hits.

Holding down the left trigger allows the player to take cover behind the nearest piece of the environment that can be used as cover from gunfire. This can include planters, wall, doors, drums, cars, sandbags, and whatever else may be encountered by the player. Releasing the left trigger will return the player to the original position that he or she was in before “entering” cover. While in cover, the player can choose to lean to the left, right, or pop out up top and fire their weapon. With the player does not wish to expose themselves to put some suppressive fire down on enemies, they can choose to simply pull the right trigger while behind cover and not exposed to fire their guns “blind.” While not particularly useful or accurate at long or medium ranges, it is possible to get some kills with this feature at close range. Players can also choose to use explosives such as frag grenades and bricks of C4 from behind cover as well. When players are using the cover system, the game switches to a third person perspective. When the player is not in cover, the game switches back to the first person perspective. The B button is used to throw various explosives and gadgets, such as flash bangs, smoke grenades, motion sensors and teargas canisters. The X button is used to reload. The left analog stick is used to move the player character, and the right analog stick is used to look around and aim. The right bumper triggers thermal or night vision goggles, and the two can be toggled by holding down the bumper. Holding down the Y button allows the player to access the weapons HUD, which allows you to choose between your primary firearm, your sidearm, and your two explosive and gadgets.

A major part of the game play in Vegas 2 is the ACES system. The ACES system allows players to level up their characters in both rank and experience with certain weapons. Experience points (XP) is gained through defeating enemies, allowing your teammates to defeat enemies. XP for specific categories such as CQB and Assault require the player to defeat players according to certain guidelines. The ACES system is active regardless of whatever mode is played. It is active during the story mode, terrorist hunts and online matches. Players receive more experience per kill while playing online multiplayer, which gives people an extra incentive to play online.

The sound in Vegas 2 great to listen to, but it’s not anything to write home about. For those who’ve played the original Rainbow Six: Vegas, many of the sounds that were in the original game are reused, such as reloading, gunfire and explosions. For those who haven’t played the original game, the audio aspect of the game is reasonable, but not what most would call impressive. A large number of weapons in the game shares sound with each other, and most of the explosions in the game also sound very similar. A generic sound for breaking glass is also often heard, but players will notice that there is only a single sound for this, regardless of how the glass is broken. While many of the new weapons share similar sounds with old weapons, some of the weapons sounds have been improved, such as the sound of shotgun shells being loaded, and the sound of a bolt action rifle being operated. The voice acting likely won’t impress most people, but very little dialogue beyond the cheesy taunts that the enemies occasionally decide to yell.

Multiplayer is a large aspect of Rainbow Six: Vegas 2. The game features a variety of multiplayer modes, including cooperative story mode, deathmatch, team deathmatch, team leader, and a variety of other multiplayer modes seen in other shooter games. A number of multiplayer maps we added to Vegas 2, and the game also includes a couple of the old maps from the original games. Fans of the Rainbow Six series of games will recognize a variety of redesigned maps from older games. The most popular mode in multiplayer is team deathmatch rivaled only by the team leader mode. A team death is pretty self explanatory. All players take their custom characters into battle online against other players. Regardless of whether you win or not, your character will gain experience as long as an enemy is killed, regardless of who killed him or her. Templates are laid out for players so that players can quickly switch their outfitting online in an instant. The multiplayer, along with the fact that custom characters can be created and designed to each player’s personnel preferences, adds greatly to the replay ability of the game.

In summary, what’s good and what’s bad about the game? The game is great fun to play through, regardless of severe repetition and lack of tactical planning. The ACES and the custom character feature really adds depth to a game that would otherwise be passed off as just another shooter. The popular multiplayer mode is much more well designed the single player, and is actually quite entertaining to play. The game looks great, though the sound could definitely be improved. The story isn’t anything impressive, but it serves its purpose, which is to allow the player to kill as enemies as possible. In closing, Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 is a good predecessor to the original game. As a stand alone game, it is a touch above average, and worthy of a purchase from new players to try.

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Freelance review by Sam Cheung (April 20, 2008)

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