Developer – Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher - Ubisoft
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas arrives on the Xbox 360 with over a full year for the developers to take advantage of the 360's hardware. For many months I had Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas on the radar and marked on my calendar. There was no question I was pumped for this one and I was hoping for a much improved product from the franchise this time around. As expected Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas delivers in a big way and has taken a step back in the right direction since Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Lockdown for the original Xbox.
In this most recent instalment of Ubisoft's first-person shooter franchise, Rainbow operatives hit the streets of Las Vegas as terrorists threaten to take Vegas, and the world, by storm. You take on the role as Logan Keller who is the leader of a three man operative who are called to task when the terrorists target Mexico and quickly proceed to the streets and casinos of Sin City. Obviously, your job is to take them down and eliminate the terrorist threat, but this time you get to gun down the terrorists inside original casinos, on the popular Las Vegas Strip Freemont Street, on top of a Stratosphere look-a-like and more. Fans of the franchise will not be disappointed and are virtually guaranteed to get their money's worth.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas' graphics are stellar. Although I must admit, I was a little worried when the game started out in Mexico. I was thinking to myself "oh no, what is this, a continuation of Ghost Recon Advanced Warrior?" The Mexican environments are undoubtedly very similar to the aforementioned game, however quickly after the first Mission; Las Vegas takes the stage until you finish off the game at the Nevada Dam. Similar to GRAW, you notice from the start the unbelievable details the development team put into the cities. As I played the following visuals really stood out for me:
- The stunning re-creation of Las Vegas
- The lighting has improved from other Rainbow titles
- The character models are smooth and realistic
- Smoke and blood effects are realistic
- The overall High Definition display is breathtaking
Aside from the gameplay, the graphics is arguably the best selling feature of the game as the Sin City looks amazing. Panoramic views from the helicopter and on top the Vertical Spire Casino (the stratosphere look-a-like) are awesome and really took me by surprise. I just didn't expect that kind of detail and I was thoroughly impressed. If you have ever been to Las Vegas or seen pictures of the city you will recognize many of the land marks. As with GRAW, you just know a lot of time and effort was spent trying to create a nearly exact replica of the City.
I was also very impressed with the lighting in the game. From the neon light on the Vegas Strip to inside the Casinos the lighting is realistic and adds to the 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 thermal version, I was relieved that I only had to rely on it on few occasions during the single player campaign.
In terms of the character models, possibly the best aspect of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas is that there are likely thousands of combinations of textures, weapons, faces, gears, etc at any given time. The newly included face mapping feature, which utilizes the Xbox Live Vision Camera, is brilliant and hilarious and when you see some of your friend's ugly mugs on some of the character models you will most like chuckle. Also, the ability to customize your character is a nice feature. The ability to customize a character with different sets of armour, masks, hats, camouflage, etc is perfect. Be forewarned though that customization is limited for the facial area when you use the Face Mapping feature.
On the downside the multiplayer graphics are scaled back somewhat as the single player campaign visuals are simply better. It was somewhat disappointing at first however I quickly got over the scaled back visuals after a few multiplayer games. This was done to allow a really solid framerate when playing in 14 player rooms. Don't get me wrong, the multiplayer graphics look pretty damn solid, but the downgrade in quality is noticeable.
Overall there is no question this is a next-gen Rainbow Six game. I am impressed with the graphics and I have no significant concerns with this area. If anything, I want more of Vegas and look forward to seeing more of Vegas with the next instalment. That is of course, if Ubisoft takes us back to sin city.
As far as the sound is concerned, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas delivers. The game's sound is an excellent complement to the fantastic graphics. The following sounds really stood out for me:
- Weapons are incredibility realistic
- Explosions and battle sounds intense
- Character Voices are clean and crisp
- The terrorist's vulgar language
The different shotguns, pistols, machine guns and grenades all have very unique sound effects. The weapons sounds are sharp and bang-on. How do I know? Well I've been to the Gun Store in Las Vegas and have fired off some of these weapons. Should you be lucky enough to take advantage of a 5.1 Dolby Digital sound system this whole audio package is even better and every speaker is used to the max. The game's 5.1 Dolby Digital sound definitely does not disappoint and scores high marks. Many times, I was simply startled by the some of the bullets whistling by and the grenades setting off near me. The explosions are thundering and you will notice some significant vibrating coming from your subwoofer. Should you not have a full 5.1 sound setup you won't be disappointed though and you shouldn't worry.
The voice acting, similar to previous versions of the franchise, is once again bang-on too. 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. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas is definitely a game you cannot have on mute.
Compared to previous versions of the franchise I found the Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas gameplay to be much improved. The controls are relatively easy and the first Mission, which is an extended training session, gives you plenty of time to become accustomed to the controls prior to arriving in Vegas. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas is nice blend of action and tactical gameplay. As with the graphics and sound, I found certain things jumped out at me while playing and they are the following:
- Snake cam, repelling and new cover system is terrific
- Easy and understandable controls
- Multiplayer is improved and has lasting appeal
- Enemy AI is tougher
- Your Rainbow operatives can actually be effective killing machines
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas has a great storyline. In fact, I can't remember the last time a shooter had me following the storyline as much as I did this time. The basic premise here revolves around an International terrorist named Irena Morales. She recruits and gathers an army of terrorists to take over Vegas and possibly the world. Your character, Logan Keller, and his team of operatives have only a short period of time before Irena unleashes her ultimate objective.
The single player campaign took me anywhere from 10-12 hours to complete. The levels are long but you will not find your self getting bored as the pace of the game is perfect. My only compliant with the single player storyline is the way it ends as it seems to follow a major trend in the industry these days. Games just don't seem to end and almost have to leave you with a cliff-hanger and Rainbow Six Vegas is no different. Inevitably it works, and yes I will be there playing the next instalment on the day of its release, but it would have been nice to actually have a solid ending.
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 to your teammates prior to entering a room. 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 any door. Second, the new repelling feature is also very slick. This allows you to repel down the side of the buildings. As you climb down you can choose to 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 newly feature introduced in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas. If you have played Gears of War lately it is a similar idea to Epic's awesome game. By holding down the left trigger you switch to a third-person view and duck behind cover. While under the safety of said cover you can aim and blind-fire your weapon. It should be noted though that this is not as accurate as popping out from behind your cover, firing off a few well aimed shots and hiding behind the cover once again.
One thing I should mention at this point is the life meter. Wait, there is no life meter. Yes, it's all about realism in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas. Do not expect to get shot and have your life meter reflect the damage. Upon being shot or grenaded your screen will distort and often blur your vision to the point that you do not see much of anything. At first I hated this feature but after awhile I learned to love it as it only adds to the intensity and chaos of a fire fight. The effect fades away if you get to some safe cover and stand by for a few seconds.
Compared to GRAW your Rainbow operates are fairly intelligent and competent. In GRAW, I called them my "band of idiots", but in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas they are somewhat skilled and do take out their fair share of terrorists. In other words, it's not up to you to do all the killing. The enemy AI will also put up a tough fight as well often flanking you, or tossing grenades at your position. I can't count how many times I would turn around and all of a sudden I saw a terrorist sneak up from behind. The enemy AI gets progressively harder as you advance through the game, which is expected as you get closer to the completion of the game.
The Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas online gameplay is fantastic and will keep you coming back for more. The biggest difference with Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas and GRAW is the longevity factor of this area. I can only speak for myself but I was sick of GRAW's multiplayer only after a few short weeks. With Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas, the multiplayer will have me coming back for more for many months.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas multiplayer comes with 10 maps suited for up to 16 players, including a casino, a Mexican village, the Hoover Dam and some classic maps like the Streets and Kill House. 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 as all of your classic modes are back. Attack and Defend is a new mode to the franchise where one team has to recover a package of some sort (e.g. intel, hostage or bomb) and reach an extraction point or defuse the bomb. All are great and there are many options available to wet your appetite. I like all the different scenarios and I like to the fact you can gain 360 achievements from the online modes.
On the downside, the spawn camping unfortunately remains an issue. Unless I am playing with a bunch of friends who (for the most part) respect each other spawn sites, the spawn camping can become quite brutal.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas certainly lives up to my expectations and it has cemented itself as a next generation shooter. The graphics are sharp, the sound is superb, the campaign is engaging and the online play is great and has lasting appeal. Even though this game was released around the same time as some other great titles (e.g. Gears of War or Call of Duty 3) it should not be overlooked. If you are a Tom Clancy fan, or just a gamer who loves a great gaming experience, you owe it to yourself to pick up this title.