|Rainbow Six: Vegas (2006)
Available for: Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 2
It’s quite a holiday season for the Xbox 360 this year. We’ve already been treated to the masterpiece that is “Gears of War,” and now we get to enjoy the latest in Tom Clancy’s mega-popular and best-selling tactical FPS series. This time out, the Rainbow Six operatives are fighting the terrorists at home in Las Vegas and it’s one hell of a battle. “Rainbow Six: Vegas” is everything that made this series great to begin with and adds in some new features that raises the bar for future installments.
You play as Logan Keller and your opponent is Irena Morales, a Mexican terrorist who’s supplying other local baddies into Sin City to form a major assault and take over the nation’s finest gambling locale. There’s a nasty pulse bomb weapon and plenty of other sticky situations for Keller and his team, which is comprised of Jung Park, the tech expert, and Michael Walter, the demolitions op. Together, you and your team are put to the test in tight and exciting combat that will test your skills and reflexes to their maximum potential.
Thankfully, the game is very easy to pick up and jump right into. Control of your team mates is achieved with the A button, as well as the D-pad when deciding what actions to take when entering a room, or executing other actions such as rappelling down ropes. Keller takes cover with a squeeze of the left trigger and can duck in and out with the left stick. Grenades are lobbed with the B button, and all firing is done with the right trigger. In essence, it’s a lot like “Gears of War,” but without everything mapped to the A button, and in this case, “RB6” wins out when it comes to taking cover, as you won’t find yourself accidentally getting sucked into walls and corners as in “Gears.”
This is definitely a game you’re going to want to take your time with. No running and gunning here. It’s all about the teamwork and figuring out which strategies are best, especially when coming under fire in the casinos. Enemies come by the dozens and will be flanking your sides, crashing through the ceilings, and popping out from every other imaginable hiding spot. Indeed, a lot of the battles can take quite a bit of time to work through successfully. Just when you think you’ve tagged the last enemy, five more pop out and its time to duck and cover once again.
Multiplayer is a joy as well, be it in co-op or the various other modes. Hardcore “Rainbow” fans will find a lot to indulge their time with here. If you have an Xbox Live Vision camera, you can even map your own face to the operative you create, and it doesn’t look bad at all. Again, it’s all about the team online as well, and the better your group works together, the more success you’ll have. Fans of games like “Quake” would be well advised to rethink their strategies before diving in to the deep combat system here.
In the looks department, this game is another stunning work of art. The 360 is finally hitting its stride, and “RB6: Vegas” shows off what the system can do with its lighting and texture effects. The player models look fantastic and the voice sync is nearly flawless. Of course, the large assortment of weapons looks and functions 100% to their real-life counterparts. Sound-wise, the game couldn’t be better, either. The sounds of weapons firing and grenades exploding, coupled with the manic sounds of the casinos and the all-around atmosphere really brings the player in to the game.
Some diehards might complain that the game includes a regenerating health system this time out. Well, complain all you like, but it doesn’t make staying alive any easier as the regeneration takes its own sweet time, allowing for many more moments for the player to get killed off while scrambling to stay alive. The only real complaint I have with the game that keeps it from getting full marks is that some of the plot devices used in the story are a bit obvious and predictable. However, the story as a whole is exciting and well-written and will keep gamers working through the single player campaign wholly satisfied.
So there you have it. “Rainbow Six: Vegas” is a triumph for both the series and tactical FPS games in general. Together with “Gears of War,” there is much merriment to be had blasting away at bad guys lately. If you’re thinking about getting the limited collector’s edition of the game, what you get is a bonus DVD featuring a making-of featurette, a “faking of the making of” movie that’s not very funny (though it wants to be) and an absolutely irritating look back at the Rainbow Six series hosted by the Frag Dolls who read their lines terribly and yammer on and on about how they played the previous titles and oh what fun they all were. Blah. In other words, sticking with the core game will provide much more entertainment for the buck.