Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 - PS3 - Review
Hailed by many gamers and gaming critics alike as a masterpiece, Rainbow Six Vegas delivered a truly remarkable tactical first-person shooter to the next-generation consoles with much success. Not only was it an intense experience but it also showed that that there is still room to improve the first-person shooter genre. It certainly improved many aspects of the genre and since then other franchises - like the Call of Duty series - pushed their own shooter to new and exciting heights. If the first game in the Vegas series was the first step into a new and marvelous direction then Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is merely just retracing said step. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t make this sequel a bad game but rather a familiar one with nothing completely new to show us.
As a deeply devoted fan of the series who loved everything about Rainbow Six Vegas, I could live with revisiting this virtual Las Vegas that’s been taken over by terrorists but I also appreciate change and there is very little change to be found in this game. What little change there is to this series is not bad at all. You assume the role of Bishop, team leader of Rainbow, but the interesting twist is that you can customize your own version of Bishop. You can even make your character a redheaded female if you wish. As a squad veteran, Bishop is asked to lead Bravo team back to Las Vegas where a returning terrorist threat rears its ugly head in Sin City once again. The story is an interesting and exciting one that manages to tie up some loose ends left from the first game’s story and weak cliffhanger.
Story Mode does do a good job of telling an actual story that does bring the characters to life in a way that the first game could not do. We get a better sense of the determination each member of the team displays as they attempt to put an end to the terrorist threat. One scenario in a sports arena stands out as a powerfully emotional one. Still, story is not the reason we love the Rainbow Six games. Much like the first game, Vegas 2 places you in really intense situations that will have you thinking like a military anti-terrorist group. You will be faced with delicate hostage situations and you will most certainly be placed in positions where your team can get wiped out if you make the wrong tactical choices.
The interesting new change to the series - introduced back in Rainbow Six Lockdown’s online multiplayer mode - is the persistent character upgrading P.E.C. feature that allows you to continue to customize your character. Shooting enemies or performing a team-based task earns you skill points for the game’s ACES (Advanced Combat Enhancements and Specialization) feature you can use to improve your Marksman, Close Quarters and Assault skills. Earning more skill points upgrades your character’s abilities to make more accurate long-distance shots or even break through tough defenses.
Aside from Story Mode there’s the return of Terrorist Hunt, a game mode that allows gamers to play through a number of maps alone or with computer-controlled squad mates. Most interesting is the fact that that this mode can be played as a co-op game with a friend while the remaining squad members are controlled by the computer. While co-op sounds like a real blast, the game mode just plays awkwardly thanks to the frustrating fact that coordinating attacks just doesn’t work when the rest of your squad bumbles it’s way in the same fashion as the single-player game. One of the flaws of Story Mode is that your companions will occasionally disregard your orders or get stuck behind a crate and that is exactly what happens during Co-op.
At least the online multiplayer portion of the game runs smoothly. Lately, there have been a growing number of players online so you will certainly find a number of players to go up against or team up with in order to dominate the map. The online multiplayer modes are familiar fare for those who have played the multiplayer matches in the first game. The inclusion of the addictively enjoyable VIP game match type is also a plus for multiplayer fans.
On the graphics front, the Xbox 360 clearly gets the better version of the game. Still, the PS3 version is nothing to sneeze at and the character models are wonderfully detailed. What doesn’t look good are the textures that makes the surfaces look flat the way they would on the PlayStation 2. Then again, the lighting and smoke effects really look good and, from afar, some of the backgrounds make Las Vegas come to life.
What never fails to make quite an impression is the game’s sound. With a stellar soundtrack that is just wonderfully cinematic and a solid voice acting cast that makes the dialogue work, the game’s sound is a real highlight. Of course, there is some recycled voice clips from the first game. There are just so many times we can hear: “He’s dead! Dude owed me money!” At least the sound effects are just as detailed as the visuals and you’ll always know if there’s a group of terrorists around the corner because you’ll hear them.
Feeling more like an expansion pack for the first game, Rainbow Six Vegas 2 for the PS3 shows us nothing completely new but it is still one seriously addictive and remarkable first-person shooter. It would have been great to have seen new and exciting features to this military tactical shooter but if you loved the first game you will still love this game anyway. If you can look past a few flaws on the PlayStation 3 version, this one is an adrenalin-fueled shooter you must really buy right away.
Review Scoring Details for Rainbow Six Vegas 2
Anyone who has played Rainbow Six Vegas will find the controls and tactical action very familiar. The ability to sprint allows you to duck for cover more quickly and the upgradeable weapons, armor and your tactical skills. The game’s single-player story is just as good as the first.
The game looks really good but it is clear that the Xbox 360 gets the prettier game. Aside from some flat textures, the character models, lighting and smoke effects are handled well enough.
Everything from the background noises to the sounds of multiple explosions are handled superbly throughout the game. Even every weapon has its own distinct and detailed sound. There’s a great soundtrack and the voice acting is not bad at all despite some repeated conversations.
Even on a normal difficulty setting, the enemy AI is able to do a good job of attempting to flank your team and many of them are actually very good shots. Many of the various scenarios are realistically delicate so you will find yourself approaching them with caution.
The ability to make Bishop male or female and outfit your avatar with upgradeable loadout options is a brilliant enhancement that works. Aside from the ability to sprint, the gameplay hasn’t changed at all. At least the story is pretty deep and impressive.
The best improvement happens to be the multiplayer mode that comes with rewards and a better ranking system to pit you against players better suited to your style. Much like Rainbow Six Lockdown, you can suit up your online avatar with all the upgrades and customization options from the single-player game. Plus, the game modes are still the reason you’ll be playing this one for a long time to come.
A worthy addition to the Rainbow Six franchise, Rainbow Six Vegas 2 doesn’t change very much from the first game in the Vegas series but it is still an amazing first-person shooter. On the PS3 the graphics might not be as sharp as the Xbox 360 and there are a few stutters here and there but it does not eclipse what is otherwise a stellar tactical shooter.