As you fast rope down from the hovering helicopter, you feel the butterflies in your stomach. You look around and briefly see the lights of all the other casinos on the strip. As you hit the ground, you take two steps forward, check your gun and await your teammates to come down. As you enter the casino, you hear the muffled sounds of talking and rustling of paper. As you motion for your team to set up for entry, you think about that saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” “Flash and Clear!”, you tell your team. As the door swings open, you hear the screams of the terrorists, and “pop” of the flash grenade. You and your team run for cover guns blazing. This is Rainbow Six Vegas.
Rainbow Six Vegas is the newest game from Tom Clancy and Ubisoft. In it, you play as a counter-terrorism officer. Not to be confused with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon or Splinter Cell, this is squad based action at it’s finest. In this edition of the long running series, you play as Logan Keller, who is a series new comer. Fans of the other Rainbows know that Ding Chavez has been the hero in the games of the past. This edition has everything you will have come to know and love from the series. The one thing that I was most impressed by was the story. I don’t know about the rest of you, but that always seemed to be a weak spot for me with the other rainbows. Well my friends, this one does not disappoint. It plays out like an episode of “24”.
Although the name of the game will have you thinking you will start out in Vegas, this is simply not the case. The first mission takes you to Mexico, where you and your Rainbow teammates are searching for a known terrorist named Irena Morales. Once you catch up with her, all hell breaks loose as you and your team fall prey to the trap she has set.
Sadly, your team is captured and you are all alone to rescue them. Unfortunately, terrorist have taken over Las Vegas and you are needed there. So you are taken to the Calypso Casino where you get a new team, and a lot of new problems. I can’t say too much about the story without giving it away, but rest assured it is one of the better stories seen in a rainbow game.
As you all more than likely know, this game uses the awesome Unreal 3 Engine. The same engine that is pushing games like Gears of War, and the just released RoboBlitz on the marketplace. So the visuals in this game are wonderful. Now I know this next statement is going to get me in trouble, but I think this game looks better that Gears of War. I know, I know, but since I have never seen a Locust, on a Lancer rifle I can only take Cliffy B’s word on it. I have seen an MP5 and a Desert Eagle (which I own) so I know they look realistic. Even the environments are really well textured, not to mention the character models. When you are flying from mission to mission, Ghost Recon style, you will get a good view of Vegas from above. Sadly, I have never been there so I don’t know if the sights are real buildings or made up, all I know was it looked freakin awesome.
The best part about the engine is that unlike Ghost Recon, which toned down the graphics in multiplayer, this game does not. You get the same beautiful graphics in multiplayer as you do in single player. Another really cool edition is the face-mapping. If you have the Xbox vision camera, you can map your face to your character in multiplayer. I ain’t talking about some crappy snap a picture of you and it wraps it around the head of a guy. No, this actually takes a frontal picture of you, then a side shot of your head, and it remaps the head to be yours.
If you have a pointy head, then you will have it in the game, if you have a mole above your lip, you will see it on the face of your character. A word of caution when using this though. If you are a black man, such as myself, and you have a bald head also such as myself, do not, I repeat do not, try to map your face in the day time. What happens is the front of your face will be fine, but the back of your head will be pale as a ghost. KillerWolverine and ZT have made fun of me many times.
For those of you, like myself, that used your headset to control your team, you will be happy to know that it makes its debut on the Xbox 360. It is a little more difficult to use this time around though. Only because now when you snake cam under a door and you spot enemies, you can tell your team who you want them to take out first and second. You can’t use the microphone with this feature sadly. Maybe in the next one.
Speaking of the next game, is it just me or is Ubisoft trying to make sure that we continue to buy these games. Remember when you played Halo 2? Master Chief came blasting out of warp and say all those ships around earth. The Admiral asks him what he is doing, he answers, “Finishing this fight, sir.” At that moment, you sit up on the couch ready for an epic fight-when all of a sudden the credits roll. Well boys and girls, the ending to rainbow is not unlike that. To be continued. Yup that is the ending, just like in Splinter Cell:DA.
I can’t finish this review without talking about the awesome multiplayer in this game. If you are used to the Rainbow series, then you already know how much fun it is to get a group of friends and shoot up some people you don’t know. Just as in the last game, you have your P.E.C. (Persistent Elite Creation for those that don’t know) which means as you play different multiplayer modes and even co-op modes you gain XP points. Which allow you to move up in rank, depending on what that rank is you are able to use better guns, or better armor.
The balancing that was done with this feature must have been really tested, because I have yet to feel like I can’t kill Master Sergeant even though I am a private first class, unlike last year’s rainbow, which was terribly unbalanced. Even if you don’t care about the single player, this game is a great purchase just for multiplayer. With a variety of match types, such as, Attack and Defend, Retrieval, Sharpshooter, and Team Sharpshooter just to name a few, this is a game that you will be playing long after you tire of Gears of War.
Even though I would highly recommend this game for anyone who enjoyed the past rainbow six games, or maybe you just want a break from, *gasp*, Gears of War, this game is not without its problems. For one, the level of difficulty is really shoddy. You can be playing on realistic and the AI will act normal, until you shoot them in the head 20 times with a sniper rifle and they magically survive. I am not sure how realistic that is-unless your name is Kal’ El and you are the last son of Krypton. Another unrealistic thing is the shotgun. How can a guy kill you with a shotgun with pinpoint accuracy from 500 yards away?
Yeah, I don’t know either but it happens all the time in Rainbow. You will also notice graphical glitches, the good thing is they don’t happen very often but when it does it will piss you off. For instance, KillerWolverine and I were playing some co-op and the game loaded up, next thing we know we are falling through the map. As we are looking up we see the map above us, and we are falling through the endless void. Sure, it made some good stories, but when its 3 am and you just want to kill some bad guys and finish the freakin’ map it pisses you off.
Overall, this is a very solid entry in the Rainbow Six lineup. Anyone who was a fan of this series before the god awful RS: Lockdown, should come back and pick this one up, you won’t be disappointed.