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Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas

 

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: PS3
Category: First Person Shooter
 
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9.5
8.5
8.25
 
Author:

Developer – Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher - Ubisoft

Features

Number of Players: 2 (online: 14)
Required hard disk space: At least 1 MB
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
HDTV Support: HDTV 720p and 1080i
PS Network Compatible
Game Rating: M (mature)

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas arrives on the PS3 approximately 7 months after its release on the Xbox 360 and PC. I had the opportunity to review the Xbox 360 version of Rainbow Six: Vegas late last year and it generated one of the highest review scores we at Gameboyz have ever given a game (9.5/10). Needless to say, Rainbow Six: Vegas for the PS3 had some high expectations to meet and I seriously questioned whether this version would deliver. As expected, overall the franchise has taken a serious step back in the right direction and has all made us forget about the disappointing Rainbow Six: Lockdown. However the question that still remains: does Rainbow Six: Vegas for the PS3 come forth as a rushed port from the Xbox 360 or does the game continue to take some steps forward? To this day that is a difficult question to answer. Essentially, I am left with the feeling the PS3 version is really no better or worse that the Xbox 360 version.

Graphics

As with the Xbox 360 version PS3 version's graphics are stellar and offer up lots of detail. Granted when I first fired up the game I started to panic as the menu display was a little blurry and nowhere near as sharp looking as the Xbox 360 version and once I started up a game and it still did not look good. I went into the in-game options menu and everything seemed to be set up properly. So I shut down the game and did a bit of online research. I discovered that apparently there is a problem with the 1080i up-scaling resulting in blurry displays. It was recommended that I go into the PS3 menu and set the menu at 720p. So I adjusted my settings and fired up the game again, fortunately it worked and I was relieved. The game menu was no longer blurry and the visuals looked on par with the Xbox 360 version. While I was relieved the problem was resolved and I am still of the opinion this should not have occurred. At the very least, the game should have come with a warning or an online update to resolve the problem.

Once my settings were in order, I began to take some notes regarding the visuals. At the end of the day Rainbow Six: Vegas for the PS3 stands as virtually identical to the Xbox 360 version. All the same fantastic details look great. From the stunning re-creation of Las Vegas, the realistic lighting, the smooth character models, the subtle smoke and blood effects, to the overall High Definition display; graphically Rainbow Six: Vegas for the PS3 is very solid indeed.

Once you move past the Mexican mission, which occupies the first hour or two of the single player campaign, you enter Las Vegas and it is here where the visuals really stand out. The panoramic views from the helicopter that delivers you to your first Las Vegas mission or from the top of the Vertical Spire Casino (a Stratosphere look-a-like) are breathtaking and quite impressive. There are also some recognizable landmarks and buildings that are quite well rendered and easily recognizable. As with other award winning Ubisoft shooters it is easy to see how a lot of time and effort was spent trying to create a nearly exact replica of the city that never sleeps.

Another stellar aspect of the visuals is the lighting. From the Vegas Strip itself to inside the casinos the lighting is realistic and adds to the visuals and gameplay. The developers did a really good job creating some of the dusty and dark environments forcing one to rely on the Thermal Vision at times. Although I was impressed with the implementation of the thermal version I was relieved that I only had to rely on it on only a few occasions during the Single Player campaign. My only beef with the lighting in the PS3 version compared to the Xbox 360 version was the lack of in-game brightness control. To adjust the brightness in the game you have to adjust your display's actual brightness setting. Personally I found I had to adjust the brightness, as the game does become too dark far too often. It’s is not a big deal but it is certainly a nuisance having to go into your display's menu to adjust brightness.

Overall, the character models are decent but do not expect Gears of War detail. Granted there are an endless amount of combinations of such things as weapons, faces, armor, uniforms, and colors at any given time. The ability to customize your character is a nice feature. The ability to put on different sets of armor, masks, hats, camouflage and whatnot is really a great feature and adds to the customizability of the game. It is something you will be tinkering with on a frequent basis while playing the online mode as you try and build the ultimate looking online character.

Speaking of online multiplayer, similarly to the Xbox 360 version the graphics when going online are somewhat scaled back. In other words the single player campaign visuals are simply better. Sadly the visuals during online multiplayer online play are not as sharp when compared to the offline visuals. Don't get me wrong though, they still look pretty good, but this was a somewhat disappointing aspect of the game as I expected some improvements over the Xbox 360 online visuals.

Overall if you haven’t played the game on PC or the Xbox 360, you will be a bit awestruck and pleasantly surprised by the on-screen visuals. However, if you have played Rainbow Six: Vegas on either the 360 or PC you will not notice any noticeable improvements as the visuals are pretty much identical to versions you have already seen.

Sound

As far as the sound is concerned in this version of Rainbow Six: Vegas, it is quite good as the game's sound is an excellent complement to the fantastic graphics. The realistic weapons, intense explosions, battle sounds, and clear character voices all contribute to the fantastic gameplay. I even get a kick out of the terrorist's vulgar language at times. You might be wondering if there any improvements over Xbox 360 version. I didn’t notice any but inevitably every time I fire up the game I notice something different like the sound of a baby crying in the distance or the sound of chopper blades swooping over your head. It’s a great experience and the louder the better.

Rainbow Six: Vegas features unique sounds for all of the weapons. The different shotguns, pistols, machine guns, sniper rifles and explosive devices have their own sound effects and some are more noticeable than the others. The weapons sounds are sharp and seem bang-on (editor's note: pun not intended). Many times during my play I was simply startled by the some of the bullets whistling by while grenades were setting off near by. Explosions are thundering and you will notice some significant vibrating coming from your subwoofer provided you play the game in 5.1 surround sound.

The voice acting, similar to previous versions of the franchise, is once again very clear, concise and sharp. Your team mates actually help you out by indicating when they are swapping magazines or engaging with the enemy. You will also notice you will sometimes hear the terrorists shouting instructions to one another too and I found this added to the realism of the game. Should you be lucky enough to play this game on a Dolby Digital Surround Sound system, the effects are taken up a notch or two as the games' 5.1 Dolby Digital sound does not disappoint and scores high marks in this regard. Overall Rainbow Six: Vegas is definitely a game you cannot, let alone should not, play at a low volume.

Gameplay

Rainbow Six: Vegas is vastly improved over previous games in the R6 franchise and the gameplay is no exception. Before I get into any details I should discuss the storyline. In this latest instalment of Ubisoft's first-person shooter Rainbow operatives hit the streets of Las Vegas as terrorists threaten to take the town, and the world, by storm. You take on the role as Logan Keller, who is the leader of a three man operative who is called to task when the terrorists target Mexico and quickly proceed to the Vegas' streets and casinos. Obviously your job is to take down the terrorists and neutralize any threat. You will find yourself gunning down terrorists inside casinos, on the popular Las Vegas Strip, on top of a Stratosphere look-a-like and more. Overall, the storyline is captivating and does not deviate from the Xbox 360 or PC versions.

The single player campaign took anywhere from 10-12 hours to complete there are two different levels of difficulty: normal and realistic. Obviously, it takes you quite a bit longer to complete the game on realistic and this is only recommended for seasoned gamers as it can become somewhat frustrating. The single player missions themselves are long and they include a nice balance of tactical gameplay, strategy and action. My only compliant with the single player storyline is the way it ends. Unfortunately the finale of the game continues a major trend in the industry these days as games just don’t seem to end as they leave you with a cliff-hanger. Inevitably it works as I often make a point of pre-ordering games that continue a story.

As far as the gameplay is concerned certain areas jumped out at me more so than others. For instance, the snake cam, repelling and the new cover system are terrific. The controls in Rainbow Six: Vegas are easy and understandable too. Multiplayer is improved and has lasting appeal, however the Xbox 360 multiplayer continues to be more user-friendly over the PS3’s multiplayer. The Enemy AI is also tougher in Rainbow Six: Vegas and your Rainbow operatives can actually be effective killing machines unlike some other Clancy games where I considered my AI team mates as my "band of idiots".

As I indicated above, the snake cam, repelling and new cover system are great. The snake cam is a small camera your character slides under the door in order to strategically 'tag' terrorist targets for your team mates prior to entering a room. In order to control the camera you use the Sixaxis controller as you simply tilt it in the direction you want the camera to go. At first it is a little tricky to control but after awhile you will have no problems. The clarity of the camera is what really surprised me. After the first couple of uses it becomes a must use piece of equipment prior to entering most rooms. The repelling feature is also very slick. With this feature you can repel down the side of the buildings and breach through windows or hang upside down on a rope and pick off enemies with your pistol. This adds yet another great option for clearing rooms. Finally, the new cover system is yet another feature introduced in Rainbow Six: Vegas. If you have played Gears of War, it’s the same idea but with different controls. While in cover you can aim and safely blind-fire towards the enemy or strategically pop out and take your enemies one at a time.

It is all about realism in Rainbow Six: Vegas so do not expect to see a life meter in the corner of your screen. Upon being shot by a terrorist your screen will distort and often blur your vision to the point that cannot see much of anything. At first I hated this feature but after awhile I learned to love it and it only adds to the intensity and chaos of a fire fight. The effect fades away if you get to cover and stand by for a few seconds in an attempt to gain your health back.

Compared to other Clancy shooter games, your Rainbow operatives (either your fellow operatives or terrorist foes) are fairly intelligent and competent. Your fellow squadmates are somewhat skilled as they take out their fair share of terrorists. In other words, it is not up to you to do all the killing. You control your AI operatives with simple button presses and it is easy to order them about and they are quite useful. On the other side are the terrorists you have to battle. The enemy AI that they employ actually makes for an interesting challenge. Often they will take cover, attempt to flank you or toss grenades from afar. I can’t count how many times I would turn around and see a terrorist who snuck up from behind or find that I was taking enemy fire from the top of a building roof. The enemy AI seemingly gets progressively harder as you advance through the game, which is expected as you get closer to the completion of the game.

A lot of the replay value lies in the multiplayer arena. Unlike Rainbow Six: Vegas for the Xbox 360, the PS3 version comes with all the maps right at the onset as they are all contained on the single Blu-Ray disk. There are 20 maps in total including such environments such as various casino locales (e.g. the main floor or a vault), a Mexican village, university library, or the Hoover Dam. There are also some classic maps such as Streets and Kill House which are redesigned from earlier Rainbow Six games. Game modes include Sharpshooter, Survival, Team Sharpshooter, Team Survival, Retrieval, and Attack and Defend. The team modes are likely where you will spend most of your time. All your classic modes are back and there are some new ones this time around as well. All are great and there are many options available to wet your appetite. On the downside, Rainbow Six: Vegas for the PS3 does not have dedicated servers like other PlayStation Network games such as Resistance: Fall of Man. This creates a lot of bad connections online and I played far too many games that had a lot of lag. Another concern is the lack of lobby system. As such, you can only search for a game match to start. Speaking of which, the loading times are painful at times and very noticeable slow. Although there is some fun to be had, Rainbow Six: Vegas for the PS3 falls a bit short in the multiplayer department compared to its Xbox 360 counterpart.


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