Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 - Review
By Rory - March 22, 2008
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
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Now you can run!
The first Rainbow Six Vegas came out in 2006 for the Xbox 360 and was met with critical acclaim due to its amazing gameplay and innovative cover system, which hadn’t previously been seen in Rainbow Six games. Then in early 2007, the PlayStation 3 received it’s own less than impressive (but still functional) port of the game. Now a year and a half later we’re here with the sequel and to be honest, we’re a little disappointed. We’re not saying this is a bad game by any means, because at its core it’s almost the same game we saw 18 months ago. Everything we liked about the first one is still present in this game, but unfortunately the same can be said about almost all the problems. The visuals are actually a pretty big change. They haven’t been ‘improved’ in the traditional sense, but they are better this time around. The audio is exactly the same as before. The story on the other hand takes a bit of a different turn, but it keeps you interested in the game and it does a nice job of tying up the loose ends from the first. The gameplay is almost exactly the same as before. That’s both good and bad. The gameplay is just as great as it ever was and this time around they’ve added a few pretty cool new features. Unfortunately there were several major issues with the original game that could have been addressed and weren’t. Needless to say, the game is not nearly as big of an improvement as it should have been.
The visuals in the game are a pretty big change. Right off the bat you’ll notice that the graphics look much different than before. Instead of upping the visuals, they’ve completely overhauled them and made everything much easier to look at. They’ve sacrificed the gritty, realistic look of the first for a more simple & stylized, but overall more visually appealing look. The textures look a bit blander than before, but that in turn gives everything a really clean feel. The clothing, armor and character models on the other hand look much better and more detailed. That said though, the graphics are still not nearly as impressive as a lot of the more recent shooters. The framerate is pretty good for the most part. There are certain segments of the game where it will drop considerably, but it does tend to hold pretty steadily throughout the game. Xbox 360 owners will experience a bit of a smoother framerate and some slightly sharper visuals, but overall it’s pretty much the same on both consoles.
Never saw it coming.
The audio in the game is exactly the same as before. The music and sound effects are identical to the first game. They’re decent, but not amazing. The music is just generic action music and the sound effects could definitely be better. The music can get extremely annoying when you’re in the heat of battle and you’re trying to concentrate. It also makes it hard to hear where the enemies' shots are coming from. You’ll probably end up turning the music off all together. When you fire a gun, the sound of the bullets is pretty weak and you don’t get a very good sense of impact from it. One problem I had is a glitch that I experienced through almost the entire game. When an enemy fires a gun, the sound of it will be sometimes be muzzled (if not completely muted) yet you can still hear them reloading and talking. It gets frustrating when someone is shooting at you and you can’t hear the shots. You’ll constantly just drop dead without even realizing you were being shot at. The audio in the game isn't bad, but it doesn't stand out whatsoever.
The story is a bit different than we were first expecting. Most people who played the first were undoubtedly a little disappointed with the conclusion, and this game actually doesn’t pick up where the first left off. It isn’t a completely separate story though, as you’ll soon find out. You will no longer be playing as Logan Keller. Instead, you will create your own character, named Bishop, who you will play through the story as. The story takes place before, as well as concurrently with the story from the first. I’m not going to spoil anything but I will say that it does tie up the loose ends and answers all the questions we had about the first. The story isn’t outstanding or anything but it is interesting and should do a good job of holding your attention.
Shooting up the convention center.
The tactical gameplay as well as the revolutionary cover system introduced in Rainbow Six Vegas was what really set it apart from all the other shooters out at the time. That said, the gameplay was still far from perfect and several prominent issues kept it from being truly amazing. Unfortunately, that’s still the case with Rainbow Six Vegas 2. They’ve added several features which do enhance the gameplay, but so many of the issues we saw with the original are still here in full force. The cover system is great, but it’s the same as before. It allows you to take cover against almost any surface in the game and get a full view of all the enemies ahead. You can then pop out and quickly eliminate them without getting shot. What’s great about the cover system in this game is it takes traditional cover systems like we first saw in Killswitch and then in Gears of War and makes it so much more functional and easy to use. In most cover-based games, you’ll run up to a surface, hope the game recognizes it as cover, and then press a button to stick yourself onto it. In Rainbow Six Vegas, all you need to do is run up and hold down the left trigger to press yourself up against cover. Then if you want to detach yourself, just let it go. It allows you to get in and out of cover in a hurry, and in a game where every second counts, that’s quite helpful. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its problems. If you’re pressed up against cover, a lot of the time you’ll be trying to get a better view on an enemy and as you move it left and right you’ll keep popping in and out of cover randomly because the game thinks you’re trying to target a nearby enemy. This leaves you vulnerable for a brief second, and that’s all it takes for an enemy to kill you. Assuming you’re playing on something higher than casual, the bullet damage is very realistic, and at times very frustrating. The enemies in this game are unrealistically smart. If the enemies are in alert mode, every one of them knows exactly where you are at all times even if they haven’t seen you yet. They have split second reaction time and if you try to get through parts of the game any faster than a snails pace, you’ll be killed immediately and sent all the way back to the checkpoint. This wouldn’t be so bad if the checkpoint system were actually good. The game has parts that can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes just to get through and you’ll often think you’ve gotten every enemy only to get killed at the last second and get sent all the way back again. If there were checkpoints scattered more frequently throughout the levels, the whole thing would be far less frustrating.
Just like in the first Rainbow Six Vegas, you won’t be going solo through the game. You’ll have a team of two following alongside you to whom you can issue commands to help you advance. Once again, there are problems here that have still not been fixed. Your team mates are completely brain dead, and when not being ordered around they do nothing apart from wander around and get in your way. There are many instances where you’ll need to press yourself up against a wall and scoot a little further back to get a better view of a room. When you do that, one of your idiot team mates will usually press himself up against the wall right in front of you, blocking your view. You’d think staring down the barrel of your gun would be enough of a hint for him to get out of the way, but unfortunately that is not so. They constantly get in your way during firefights and will be the cause of your death more than once. They work well for the occasional room clearing and as bait for the enemies, but other than that they’re usually more harmful than helpful.
Can't see me!
One new feature that was added is the sprint mechanic. By holding the left shoulder button, you can now perform a quick sprint. This actually helps a lot if you know how to use it, and it really does make sense in a game like this. Before, if you’d need to move up to get a jump on the attacking enemies, you’d need to rely on luck to not get shot while slowly advancing. Now you can quickly pop out of cover and sprint across to a new location and quickly get yourself back into cover. It works well and I’m definitely glad it was added.
They’ve also added the ability to shoot through walls, but it feels completely tacked on. Some surfaces you can shoot through and some you can’t. It’s totally random and rarely makes sense. It can also be frustrating at times, seeing as the game relies so heavily on the use of cover, and the enemies can just shoot straight through it. The whole system rarely comes into play though and it just seems like a waste of time.
The experience system has been completely overhauled from the first one. In the first game, shooting an enemy would get you a set number of points and would add to your overall XP which ranks you up at a certain point. That was basically it, and you'd only gain experience while playing online. Now you’ll get extra experience points for pulling off kills in certain ways. For example, getting a headshot will get you an extra experience point, shooting an enemy from behind or at long range will get you three extra experience points, etc. Playing on casual, normal or realistic will also be a factor in how many experience points you get for each kill. It feels much more rewarding to be given extra points for performing special kills. One problem with this system is every so often you’ll perform two of these at once, such as getting a headshot from behind, but you won’t be given extra points for both of these. Which one you do get points for is totally random.
Another nice addition is the A.C.E.S. (Advanced Combat Enhancement and Specialization) system. This system is split up into three categories: Marksmanship, Assault, and Close-Quarter Battle. You’ll get points added to each category by performing a certain type of kill. For example, getting headshots gets you points for Marksmanship; taking out enemies with grenades will get you points for Assault, and killing enemies from up close, or by blind firing, will get you points for CQB. Each one of these has 20 levels. After getting to each one, you’ll be rewarded with weapons, armor, camouflage, XP, etc.
One great change about the game is that you will now get XP while playing the single player modes. This will actually give you incentive to get through the story and you won’t feel like you’re just wasting time.
It may seem like all these changes are a big enough improvement for one game, but unfortunately that’s not really the case. They are all nice additions, but you’re still left wanting more from the gameplay.
The multiplayer is really what Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is all about though. In the online mode, you’ll compete against/with other players in games such as Team Deathmatch, Attack and Defend, Terrorist Hunt, Co-op story mode, etc. All the usual modes are there. Right away though, you might notice that Team Survival was taken out of the game. I was disappointed at first, but then I realized that to play this game mode all you have to do now is select Team Deathmatch and disable respawning. They’ve made things a bit simpler this time around. The co-op is still a bit of a disappointment. There are now cutscenes and checkpoints, but that’s where the good ends. There can only be two players this time, instead of four, and the second player is still just being taken along for the ride. Only player one can issue commands and activate mission objectives, and it will leave player 2 feeling a bit left out. With the exception of fewer loading screens, the online mode is the same as it was before. PS3 owners will be happy to know that they are not getting a stripped-down version of the multiplayer this time, and there is a now a full lobby system. The online play is extremely fun overall and will most certainly hold your attention for months. I finally have a reason to take a break from Call of Duty 4.
Fire in the hole...
The story mode only lasts about 5-6 hours, but this makes up such a small part of the game. The online multiplayer, co-op and terrorist hunts will last you a very long time. Some may find it hard to stay interested for too long though, because the whole thing is essentially the same game as the first. It’s fun and I’m sure it’ll keep you entertained for a while, but we’ve really done this all before and some may get bored more quickly than others. At $60, I do have a bit of a tough time telling you to go out and buy it, but if you enjoyed the first there’s really no reason for you to pass this one up. New comers however are in for a major treat. If you enjoy slower-paced tactical shooters, Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is definitely the game for you.
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