Product Type: Ubisoft Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... fps but goes more along the lines of a tactical shooter. Careful planning has to be done to clear each room and complete each objective... more
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas (Xbox 360)
Member Name: smooth_criminal_
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Magnificent visuals, realistic and rewarding gameplay
Disadvantages: Singleplayer campaign slightly too short, not exactly original
It was, therefore, something of a surprise when I became utterly absorbed in this engaging, intense, and fiercely realistic tactical, squad-based shooter. Boasting a satisfying mixture of magnificent visuals and dynamic gameplay, Vegas is as ambitious as it was unexpected. An intelligent but often fast-paced shooter, and set in the notorious casinos of Las Vegas, this game confidently offers a powerful and addictive experience that should appeal both to fans of the series and newcomers alike.
In addition to the gameplay, this is what makes Vegas stand out the most, guaranteeing its appeal to the more aesthetically minded player. The careful attention to detail and superbly designed characters, weapons, and environments, make for a stunning graphical display that is, at times, unrivalled on any platform.
That is some achievement, and it is clear that Ubisoft put a lot of effort into this aspect of the game. The character designs are particularly impressive, undoubtedly setting a new visual benchmark. Your black-clad team-mates, with their superbly detailed gear and weaponry, could easily distract from combat as they manoeuvre effortlessly in and out of danger, with streaks of light shimmering delicately from their helmets and guns. The environments are also stunning and varied, and the player can really appreciated the attention to detail while hugging whatever cover is available.
The slot machines and gambling tables of Las Vegas' casinos are well recreated, providing an authentic flavour of the great city that I found utterly convincing right the way through, and while the setting is perhaps underused, the Mexican slums and other environments that it gives way to are equally well developed, making for a realistic and engaging visual experience that adds immeasurably to the gameplay value.
20/20 - Stunning, with a careful attention to detail and beautiful character designs to boot
Probably Vegas' most attractive feature - its unparalleled realism - is built around its sound as much as its gameplay. While I perhaps found the voice acting a little lacklustre and the lines a little clichéd, these minor limitations failed to distract.
The game's sound is really at its best during the many firefights that occur throughout the game, with superb weapon effects, ricochets, and impact sounds making for a highly satisfying audio experience. There is nothing quite like the sound of a grenade or flash-bang going off as you storm a room full of terrorists, gunfire rebounding off the walls and the cries of your brave comrades registering behind you.
Overall, the audio standard of Vegas is high, and, although other games have offered better in the past, nothing, aside perhaps from the voice acting, is substantially lacking, and the sound reinforces the highly realistic atmosphere and gameplay that makes the game so unique.
18/20 - Powerful and realistic sounds despite lacklustre voice acting
Playing as Logan Keller, the player takes command of a specialist military unit, combining careful tactics with considerable firepower. With two AI-controlled teammates in support, both combat and management are integral to the gameplay, but Vegas ultimately delivers a highly engaging and entertaining experience, breathing some life into a franchise that was in desperate need of a boost. It is a testament to the flexibility of Vegas' gameplay that it is a game for both the seasoned tactician and the brave newcomer. Some have criticised previous Clancy titles for being too difficult - taking realism to its ultimate but virtually unplayable conclusion - but this title retains the unrivalled realism of the Rainbow Six franchise without compromising gameplay value.
This is achieved, in part, through a well designed but uncomplicated team command system, allowing the player to control their teammates effectively in often highly demanding and chaotic situations. The ease with which I was able to use this mechanic is well representative of the game's improvements and means one can enjoy playing alongside the AI without being too distracted by them. Vegas also uses its difficulty settings to strike a balance between realism and playability, with 'realistic' setting the standard for the ultra-tactician and providing challenging, engaging, but ultimately rewarding gameplay. But this will not be for everyone, and the easier difficulty setting allows for a more forgiving experience, making the game accessible for the newcomer as well. Successfully striking this balance is, almost certainly, a key strength of the game.
It might be easy to hear the word 'tactical' and forget that Vegas is in fact built upon its combat, and, on the whole, this is very well executed. In game environments usually have multiple points of entry, spicing the gameplay up to provide some variety and unpredictability and making it as non-linear as is possible with this sort of shooter. Firefights are fast-paced, intense, and highly realistic, particularly on the highest difficult setting, and there is a vast array of weaponry available, including shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, and sub-machine guns. Cover dynamics also undoubtedly boost the combat value. Although a comparison to the vastly superior Gears of War would probably be unfavourable, taking cover behind a casino slot machine or a burnt out car whilst pinned down by enemy fire, shooting wildly over the top and around the sides to avoid certain death, is a truly unforgettable gameplay experience.
Added to this is the impressive AI present particularly in your teammates. On the whole, they respond well to your commands and act almost intuitively, making themselves adaptable to a variety of situations. They hug cover and avoid enemy fire just as you do, and are notably effective in combat, occasionally flooring terrorists before you even see them. Ubisoft clearly placed a strong emphasis on this in development, and it has paid off well, adding significantly to the game's realistic appeal. If one wishes to exchange AI for real players, however, then the cooperative mode awaits; this provides some of the game's best entertainment and is well worth a go if you can get some friends together.
The only issue I took with Vegas' gameplay was its saving mechanic, based upon a checkpoint system. For challenging and realistic gameplay, this type of system is simply inappropriate, and, despite rechargeable health, players will find it particularly frustrating, especially on the highest difficulty, when death is common.
Fortunately, Vegas is good enough for it not to matter so much, and the multiplayer is certainly one reason for this. With up to 16 players supported - appropriate for the genre - with all the traditional gameplay modes available, tactical internet gaming has never been so good, and player customisation, of both character and weaponry, adds a valuable final touch.
23/25 - Excellent tactical gameplay with impressive combat sequences; the inappropriate saving mechanism provides the only tangible shortcoming
It is a significant drawback of the game that the singleplayer does not last as long as perhaps it should have done, making it possible to fully complete Vegas within a matter of days. However, this is fortunately countered by the considerable replay value of certain missions, especially those that take place in Las Vegas itself.
The multiplayer also serves to enhance Vegas' longevity, and is, with its various modes and customisation, surprisingly addictive for a tactical shooter. Overall, the game initially falls short in this category, but replayability and the entertaining multiplayer rescue it from a lower score.
20/25 - Great replay value and an engaging multiplayer make up for a slightly below average singleplayer campaign
While Vegas has almost certainly injected some much needed energy into the Rainbow Six franchise, it would be unwise to call it an entirely original game. In fact, originality is sharply lacking, with a clichéd plot structure and some action sequences that could have come straight out of one of the lesser James Bond movies. Despite this, however, the reasonably non-linear approach of the game brings a considerable sense of unpredictability, so it is certainly not a bore.
Vegas prides itself on an uncompromising mixture of intense action and intelligent, tactical gameplay, which, combined with the surprisingly non-linear approach of the game and its powerful visuals, makes for a unique gaming experience that cannot be fully rivalled elsewhere.
Fans of the franchise will be relieved to play Vegas after the disappointment of previous titles, and this reflects well how far a little extra effort in development can go. Ubisoft clearly worked hard to deliver on this one, and its success is to their credit. With gameplay that is both entertaining and realistic, Vegas should be a welcome addition to any gamer's collection.
Price: £27.99 (Amazon, September 07)
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: Tactical Shooter
Summary: Vegas should be a welcome addition to any gamer's collection