Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2
When Rainbow Six: Vegas hit the XBOX 360 in late 2006, it was quickly propelled to the top of the list of best games available on the console. It’s blend of complex yet accessible tactical gameplay, deep multiplayer modes and a decent story made it one of the must-have FPS available. It was later released on the PS3 with much less critical acclaim, but it still held up as a deep shooter with plenty to offer.
When Ubisoft announced that Vegas 2 was in development, most PS3 and 360 gamers would have jumped for joy at the prospect of blasting through terrorists in Sin City one more time. But with this hyped-up anticipation came expectation that Vegas 2 would be everything the first was and more. Does Vegas 2 put it all on the table, or does it lose it all in one hand?
While Vegas 2 at its core is practically the same as the first game, there are a few improvements and additions that set it apart from the first, albeit minimally. Instead of playing as the first games hero, Logan, you’ll take control of Bishop who can be created and edited by you. There’s the option to create a Solid Snake-like soldier, full with a 5-o’clock shadow and packed with weapons and armor, or you can decide to go with a female warrior. While the character customisation isn’t that deep, there should be enough there to satisfy you. After all, your character’s appearance is probably going to be overshadowed by masks, face-paint and/or headwear. As you progress through the game you’ll unlock different weapons and armor, all of which can be added/subtracted from your character at certain points during the single-player/co-op campaign or through the main menu.
Unlike in the first game where XP were only up for grabs in multiplayer, killing a terrorist in story mode will also earn you XP. Another great addition is the new ACES (Advanced Combat Enhancement and Specialization), which is broken up into different categories, each of which has 20 levels. Unlocking a level will unleash an award, be it a new weapon/s or a nice fat dose of XP. Both ACES and XP are carried throughout all modes in Vegas 2, so if you earn points in one game mode, they’ll still be there when you play another. This means that if you unlock a weapon in single-player mode, it will be available to you when you go online and vice-versa.
There’s also the welcomed addition of the ability to run which was severely lacking in the first game. Far too often your character was left to burn in the blast of a grenade, as you were unable to get far enough in time. However, Vegas 2 gives you the opportunity to sprint and run for cover, which is useful in the type of gameplay environments you’ll be in.
While the single-player campaign took a back seat from the multiplayer in the first game and again in this title, it’s still worth checking out. It’s a lengthy and relatively challenging experience, even more so then the original. The story, like the first, isn’t that deep, but it is integrated well into the gameplay. Ubisoft have tied off any loose ends from the cliffhanger ending of the first, and once again you’ve got your basic “terrorists in Vegas” plot. There are a few twists and turns, though none of them will cause your chin to drop to the floor.
Vegas 2 calls for precision and patience during the story mode and most of the time your character will be accompanied by two AI controlled teammates. Their actions sometimes determine whether or not you live, so it’s important to take in your surroundings and direct them appropriately. If you choose to go into an area unprotected and start blasting away, you won’t survive, even on the Casual difficulty. You have to ensure that you examine an area, be it through a Snake Cam underneath a door or by leaning up against a wall and peering into an open space. By taking in how many enemies there are and where they are located, you can direct your AI teammates appropriately. There are plenty of different attack techniques available, ranging from blasting a door open (killing anyone standing near it) or throwing in a stun grenade and temporarily blinding anyone in close proximity. Taking advantage of your AI teammates is highly encouraged as most of the time they can be of great assistance.
However, there are instances where their actions don’t quite fit in with what you had in mind for attack. Sometimes they’ll be too pre-occupied finding cover and will practically run directly at a bunch of terrorists who bombard them with bullets. This in turn will often put one or both of them down and a warning will come on screen. You must ensure that both of your teammates survive by pumping them with an adrenaline shot, otherwise, you’ll fail the mission. In regards to the enemy AI, you can be standing a meter away from one and load your weapon and they still won’t hear you. Even if you shoot down a bunch of terrorists in a large hall-way, a couple of rooms down you’ll hear them talking to each other saying, “Did you hear something?” While it’s nothing major, it just seems a little silly and pre-determined.
However, none of these lapses in AI intelligence decrease the excitement and intense feeling that the story mode can supply. It’s deep, challenging and fun and once you get used to the command controls and directing your AI teammates appropriately, you’ll see that this game as more to offer then just an awesome multiplayer experience.
Talking about multiplayer, like the first, it’s the best thing Vegas 2 has on show. There are 12 maps and 2 new modes and all of the maps a perfectly designed and fitted to the gameplay and style. It has many of the basic multiplayer modes, like Death Match and planet the bomb and, unlike COD4, tactical combat and precision is needed to succeed.
The co-op mode, although disappointingly shrunk from 4 players to 2, is still a lot of fun. Ubisoft seem to have included everything from the single-player campaign (such as tutorials), which weren’t present in the first games co-op mode. However, while the co-op can be a lot of fun, it’s not without its problems. Firstly, only the host can issue commands and this might leave the second player feeling a little left out and helpless. Secondly, if the host dies, the AI teammates are left idle until the host respawns. Even then the second player cannot offer commands. It’s a little disappointing that the second player isn’t incorporated better into the storyline and gameplay, but there’s still great fun to be had if you can look beyond those problems.
From a graphical and sound front, Vegas 2 is identical to the first Vegas. The soundtrack sounds as though its been ripped directly from the first and the graphics, while shiny and nice in some areas, don’t provide that “wow” factor. They didn’t in the first either though and that didn’t matter as the great gameplay overshadowed that. There’s some minor screen-tear and the frame-rate drops a few times but it’s nothing that wasn’t already present in the first game.
Overall, Vegas 2 is a great tactical FPS. Those of you who played the first might want to check it out for re-populated online matches, but the single-player campaign is nothing new. For those who didn’t play the first, Vegas 2 is an absolute must-have. It’s tactical gameplay and intense gunplay have been carried over from the original and once you get through the challenging and lengthy single-player campaign, you have great online modes and a decent co-op campaign to play through.