“The finest tactical shooter out there.”
The second game in the Rainbow Six Vegas series, and it’s quite a doozy! I don’t play a lot of tactical shooters, but that may be because every one that I have tried in the past, I’ve hated! This is not the case with Vegas 2, however. In fact, I have to say that this is one of the very finest first person shooters I have ever played, at least on a console. I am willing to praise this game, and this really means something, believe me. Since I normally hate first person shooters these days, there is clearly something great about this package. Well, let me give you a rundown on what makes this game pretty darn good.
You play as a Bishop, a senior veteran of Rainbow who is tasked with bringing down a Rainbow traitor who has resorted to terrorism. The game sees you romp across Las Vegas, as well as other areas of Nevada. You will even venture outside of the state, even going all the way to Costa Rica.
There isn’t a lot that can be said about the plot besides what I’ve mentioned above, because it progresses a lot like your standard Hollywood action-thriller movie. Giving away too much would spoil the game immensely. I’ll just let you know that the story is quite good and is certainly interesting, although I found myself feeling a little lost at times, almost as if I was being led around to do things that were not necessary. However, in the grand scheme of things, most of your actions will make sense and have an affect on the story.
Simply put, this game looks rather average. Character models are probably the game’s strongest point while everything else is very ho-hum. Perhaps only once or twice throughout my entire time with this game have I been impressed with something that I have seen. There is one level that puts you in a convention center, which actually was pretty nice looking. However, most levels in the game are fairly drab and not very exciting to look at.
Many objects, props, and textures repeat themselves and, unfortunately, reminds me of the Flintstones scenes where Fred and Barney would be driving, and the background behind them would just be the same repeating scene. That’s how I felt with this game. There was a lot of unnecessary repetition that certainly does kill your immersion slightly.
Character models and the guns that they use, however, all look quite good and are very easily identifiable. The HUD display is also very adequate and gives you all the information you need. These are probably the best aspects of the game’s graphical display and do make up for the slight stumble with the repetition that I mentioned before. Thankfully though, most of the game’s graphical shortcomings will be overlooked when you are deeply engaged in finding those last few terrorists.
Superb is the best word to use for this games sound. Right from the main menu, you know that you’re in for a treat with the very engaging theme music which really gets you in the mood to blast those terrorists off the map. The ingame music is just as nice, though it does not play constantly throughout the levels for very, very obvious reasons. Since this is a slow paced tactical game in which environmental sounds are very important, music takes a backseat about ninety percent of the time.
Voice acting is not exceptional, but it’s certainly more than adequate and very believable. While cutscene voices are usually pretty well done overall, it is the voices of the terrorists that bring the voice acting above the average score. Terrorists are all very vocal ingame, and you know when they’re looking for you or just idly rambling to themselves – though this isn’t exactly common.
The sound effects are all pretty standard stuff for a shooter. Foot steps, gun shots, and the sounds of glass breaking are more or less the same sounds we’ve heard in dozens of other shooters, so there are few surprises here. However, Ubisoft made an effort to guarantee that they chose only the best sounds for the ingame action. You won’t hear any guns sputtering unrealistically, nor will you hear any strange “wood explosions” and other such oddities which plague other first person shooters.
Now we’ve gotten to the real meat of the package. Any shortcoming that this game has becomes absolutely irrelevant when you are actually experiencing the gameplay. Any mediocre sound effect or texture will be completely overlooked once you are immersed in the exciting tactical action that this game offers.
Now, of course, the whole point of this game is to sneak around and take down as many of the terrorists as effortlessly and as quietly as possible, not running into a crowded room with your guns blazing. Careful precision and quick thinking is what you need to outsmart the terrorists in this game, who may I add have very impressive AI. The same can be said about your AI team-mates who accompany you throughout a good number of levels. Allies and foes take cover and strafe accordingly and adapt to whatever situation you stick them in.
Controls are very intuitive and I have never had any problems with them, except for when I had to relearn them all over again after being away from the game for a few months. Every button on the controller has a function, sometimes even two. It may sound like a bit much to assign more than one function to a button, but all you need to do to access the second function is hold the button down for a moment. It’s not terribly difficult and just fifteen to twenty minutes with the game is just about all you will need to familiarize yourself with how the game controls.
For me, the most entertaining aspect of the game was terrorist hunting, which is a gamemode for one or more players that pits you on a map with upwards of twenty terrorists, and it is up to you (and your friends, if you are playing multiplayer) to take down every single one of them. This is a very exciting mode to play on, especially when things get tense in situations such as when there is one or two terrorists left hiding on the sprawling map, and you have zero respawns left.
Online is very good. I have only played online with a few friends, but it was a very enjoyable experience and completely trumps the singleplayer story mode and local multiplayer modes. Of course, this was because I was playing with actual friends, so the experience could be different if I played with people I have never met. I am certain that it would still be quite entertaining though, as this game encourages coordinated teamwork like no other. This game is, in my opinion, the current epitome of coop gaming.
There is so much to do in this game that the time sink required to unlock everything and trump over every terrorist rivals that of the grind required to accomplish everything in an MMORPG. Yes, Vegas 2 is that deep.
There are the trophies of course, which I don’t particularly care for in any game I play. I know that some care deeply about them though, so they are there for those of you who like to chase after them.
There’s also the level/rank up system. By completing objectives, and killing terrorists using different methods, you will get experience which you use to gain ranks and unlock new guns, armor, and accessories. The initial ranks go by very quickly, but you will eventually notice that it takes quite a bit of time to increase them. Since gaining ranks unlocks dozens of items, there should be a very large incentive to gain as many ranks as you can in order to give you better tools to outsmart the terrorists more effectively.
And finally, there is the local or online multiplayer portion of terrorist hunt, which is just so addictive with a friend or two that you could lose yourselves in the hunt for a few hours. There are many maps to play on with several difficulties, meaning that there are quite a few challenges for you and your friends to try and overcome. Of course, you can even go at terrorist hunt alone for an added challenge, though it is much more fun if you have a friend over at your house who can play with you, or a friend who has a PS3 and a copy of the game.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable and immersive tactical shooter, and anyone who even has the slightest interest in tactical games should add this to their library. If you’re a fan of multiplayer, definitely pick this game up! No game that I have ever played encourages teamwork better than Rainbow Six Vegas 2. Again, this is a very good game. At the very least, this fantastic game deserves a rental.