A cold day in Vegas no more. Hopefully over the short vacation, you have had time to hit the slots, schmooze the local women and even rubbing your barrel a little more than you should. Why you ask? Because Rainbow Six, Vegas style is back. That’s right; more taking cover and sneaking around killing terrorists in the land that never sleeps. Apparently the rent on the automatic terrorist prevention machines was a little high and so they have asked for your MTar firing, Flashbang throwing behind to lead the charge once again. Rainbow Six Vegas 2 takes back your 360 and hopefully sends us more than new maps and some spit and polish.
I would probably be called a liar if I claimed that the graphics in RSV2 have been upgraded significantly in any fashion. It’s still really good and very little difference can be deciphered. There is some improvement in shading and terrorists look more distinct. Guns do look fancier and I did notice an upgrade in blast patterns from various explosive devices. Advertisements also appear of better quality, but as you can tell I’m grasping at straws. One detrimental thing I noticed was that you find yourself shooting at your AI teammates a lot (or nearly) especially if you are taking on the role as Knight, Bishop’s teammate in story mode. Human players are usually distinct but the two AI’s look like any other terrorist.
Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is still the best first person shooter that I have ever played in relation to overall sound. If you hear gunfire, you know what direction it is coming from. Sounds are very audible, even down to the little individual footsteps. Blasts are stronger and can even cause distortion if you have your speakers turned up too loud. Your reactions might be off but the game certainly uses the surround channels to clue you in on where the next piece of gunfire will be coming from. Music in the game is very good too as the cinematic pieces fit the mood and change during various scenes or areas. Dialog is clear and I honestly can not say anything negative towards the sound in Vegas 2.
The story is billed as part prequel and part sequel. You play the role of Bishop, a high ranking veteran of the Rainbow organization. The character is also an instructor at the organization’s training facility where the game begins. The game begins 5 years in the past (2005) where Bishop is deployed to an observatory in France for an operation where there are some hostages. With the help of new recruits Logan Keller and Gabriel Nowak (the lead characters in the first title), they descend onto the scene. However, things don’t quite go as planned as the negotiator gets shot. Nowak who is defusing a bomb, loses his mind thinking that the squad was going to leave him when terrorists open fire. However, operatives from Alpha team get to the location and calm down the situation as the scene ends.
Five years in the future, July 2nd, 2010. Las Vegas. Rainbow Six contacts Bishop and wants him to get involved in an operation. This operation concerns chemical weapons that are being sought after by Miguel & Alavarez Cabueros. However, Bishop informs Rainbow Six that one of his crew Logan Keller is running a separate operation in Mexico (the initial scenes from the first Rainbow Six Vegas game). So he takes Jung Park, electronics expert and Michael Walters, demolitions expert in an attempt to find the Cabueros bros. In the process, their story runs along side the original Rainbow Six Vegas and extends further as they uncover the salty underground of Las Vegas, Nevada in an attempt to figure out the real truth of years past.
For those who have not played the first Rainbow Six, you might be a bit unsavory with the controls. They follow standard first person shooter practices with your right trigger being your fire and B for gadget (grenade or similar explosive). You can switch weapons (Y) and reload as needed (X). However, the most important buttons arguably to learn is the left trigger or take cover. Upon using this command, your character switches to third person and you find yourself behind an obstacle (wall, crate, etc) where you can peak out and deal tactically with the opposition. The second game adds a sprint option (left button) which now enables you the ability to run to cover. This is very useful when guns are blazing and bullets are sprayed.
The controls still feed as good as they did before. Peering around a corner and lining up a shot is very easy and gun reaction feels about as realistic as one could guess (not that I ever actually shot a 552 commando but I’m giving a guess here). Many of the old guns return and a few new ones have made their appearance. A personal difference I noticed immediately is that shotguns seem much easier to control and shoot with making them much more deadly. The SPAS12 and 500 Tactical are awesome in firepower and probably will be the first weapons “banned” from a lot of multiplayer sessions. Explosives such as C4 have also been “upgraded” to increase their usability in more situations.
Cover is a slightly different beast. If you find yourself hiding behind cover that isn’t too savory like something made out of thin wood (i.e. crate), you will take gunfire and will not be able to stay behind such a structure for too long. This can also be used against the enemy as they find themselves in similar situations. Sometimes it will seem like cover doesn’t help at all because of the angle the terrorists have taken on your current location. Expect to die a lot at first as you figure out how to best handle your character. Sprinting is also difficult to get used to. It seems to perform correctly but the animation seems a little jerky and hesitant. Certainly, this was added to compete with other similar titles in the genre but a little more time should have been used to make it feel a little more authentic.
As mentioned above, expect to die a lot; period. The game thankfully adds a third difficulty level of Casual to help out newer players. Normal is still a big slap in the face and Realistic is holy crap did he just spawn out of thin air? Spawning does seem to be a bigger problem this time around as certain enemies will come out of nowhere. Perhaps they are just well placed but you really can have a terrorist coming out of a spot nearby in a matter of seconds. This does train you to have quicker reaction time and to watch your back but in the event you find yourself as the “lone wolf”, good luck as Normal or Realistic will make sure you die often and on very few shots.
Remember those ranks from the original Rainbow Six Vegas? All those nights spent with rubber bands to your controller’s analog sticks trying to scrap points together for that elite ranking? Cheaters! Anyhow, those ranks are back but with a new system. You still get experience for completing various adversarial modes but experience points are awarded for each kill, not just completion. Furthermore, you can earn experience points in single player story or terrorist hunt, thus not penalizing you for not taking on the multiplayer. This does have the tendency to create a lot more elites, but the trade off is that elite actually seems attainable by normal means.
Hand in hand with the experience system is the A.C.E.S. or Advanced Combat Enhancement Specialization. In certain situations along with the XP, you will receive A.C.E.S. points in three categories: Marksman, Close Quarters(CQB), & Assault. Shoot a guy in the head, get Marksman points. Shoot a guy up close, CQB Points. Grenade in the hole, Assault Points. There are 20 levels for each of the categories and they unlock weapons and extra experience points. These will most likely be leveled in full before you reach Elite status. However, this element commonly found in role playing games is very welcome here, especially to those who only have a few minutes to play. Pop in a terrorist hunt, shoot a few head shots or chuck a few grenades and you are a little closer to achieving the next rank.
Multiplayer has not changed very much. You can still play story mode, terrorist hunts and various types of adversarial including attack & defend, deathmatch, team deathmatch & so forth. A new adversarial mode called Total Conquest gets teams to capture three satellite transmitters and then hold them for 30 seconds to get the win. However, they kinda nerfed the co-op story mode. In the first Rainbow Six Vegas, you found yourself with up to three human opponents to trade terrorist kills with. In the second, only one more. The other two are replaced with a.i. teammates Park & Walters. Furthermore, only Bishop (player 1) is in control of the two teammates. This leaves Knight (player 2) to be nothing more than a hired gun who will often (as I found) shoot their own teammates because they can not distinguish them and the terrorists apart.
There are 47 achievements included in the 2nd Vegas game. Twenty one are of the single player variety and twenty six are multiplayer infused. However, these achievements play a little bit easier than its predecessor due to the melding of the single and multi experience. The story modes can be completed with another real person over Xbox Live if so desired. Elites as mentioned for the reasons above will be easier to come by. The Multiplayer achievements for the most part are dumbed down to the kill 100, kill 300, heck kill a 1000 variety. Many of them also include the stipulation of having 6 players present. This was done to curb cheaters who will grab one or two friends and knock many of these out. Most of these will simply just take time, not any particular skill.
Note: The private first class achievement is currently glitched for returning players. When entering Rainbow Six Vegas 2 for the first time, returning players will be given experience and a bonus pack based on their previous rank. Many veterans will get enough XP to go right over the Private First Class threshold. Therefore the achievement never pops and many gamers are going to be stuck at 990/1000 for a while. At the writing of this article, UbiSoft is working on a patch to address this and other small glitches, hopefully it comes sooner than later.
One could site various problems in Rainbow Six Vegas 2. The maps are very similar to the first incantation and there is some sense of feeling that you’ve been here before. Heck, Streets (a downloadable map that you can get if you sign into the UbiSoft hub within the game) and Killhouse are near identical re-dos. Your character will still get sniped by that spawned terrorist when you fly around corners that you previously just went over five minutes ago. The controls feel the same and the sprint despite what others might think doesn’t add that much. Many will forget it even exists. However, if one were to take the game a little deeper; you realize how much was added. The story mode feels richer and pulls you more into the game.
The experience and A.C.E.S. system is flat out the best thing I have seen in gaining ranks and levels in a first person shooter. While Achievements are easier this time around, many will still test your patience and reward you for that well practiced skill. In Multiplayer, the game does suffer downfalls from the reliance on A.I. teammates in Co-Op Story mode. Co-Op Terrorist hunts have also gotten a lot harder as many people will struggle to complete the Realistic levels. (Covention Center, enough said) The game taken upon a whole is still a great experience, one I found more satisfying than Halo 3. The little faults here and there do hurt the game some but if you enjoyed the first experience, this will make you enjoy the second effort that much more. Highly recommended to all first person shooter fans.
Other Coverage & Reviews
- 1up.com: “Though there are a few funky issues with the single-player campaign, they by no means outweigh the good stuff that the game has to offer overall.”
- TotalVideoGames.com: “A few years ago, this would have been an expansion pack…”
- Gameinformer.com: “It’s sort of a shame that so much of it is recycled from the last game, but nobody stops eating their favorite food because it’s similar every time – and this is the Kobe beef of tactical FPS.”