Ubisoft Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2
- Solid control, increased tactical options and challenging co-op equals an addictive and satisfying experience
- Infuriating checkpoint placement; lame reliance on obvious script triggers; only two player co-op for main campaign
Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 succeeds thanks to its amazing co-op, carefully balanced gameplay and memorable setting. Sure, there are some aggravating scripting and design issues present but much like the city it's set in, Vegas 2's pleasure outweighs the pain.
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The late, great Elvis Presley once sang that in order to survive in Vegas, all you needed was "a strong heart and a nerve of steel". Of course, the King never had to shoot it out with terrorists but when it comes to the action packed Rainbow Six Vegas 2, his words still ring true anyway. So join us as we return to the city of sin to put our hearts and nerve to the ultimate test, Rainbow Six-style!
With its quick pace, memorable locations, and smooth controls, the original Rainbow Six: Vegas helped revive the long-standing tactical shooter franchise. While the sequel Vegas 2 doesn't shake things up as much as its predecessor, but it's still got enough glitz and glamour to eat up large chunks of your free time.
As we said, Vegas 2 doesn't veer that far off the beaten path forged by the first Vegas title. Not much has changed gameplay-wise, which is a good thing for battle-hardened vets who fought their way through the first title. You're still cast as a highly trained anti-terrorist specialist who roams around with his squad mates, picking of evildoers with an impressive array of firepower. You still rely on cover, blind-fire to distract opponents and peek out for the well-executed pin-point precision shot. You also command a squad of highly trained operatives as you clear rooms and secure objectives.
Thankfully, the controls, which were tight and intuitive in the first instalment, haven't changed much. Controlling your own character is a breeze and commanding your two A.I. companions quickly becomes second nature. Centre your reticule on a patch of ground, an objective, or a closed door, and a simple button tap sends them on their context-sensitive way, ready to go loud or breach-and-clear at your urging. They're not perfect: sometimes they seem to think they're safely behind cover even as bullets streak into them by the dozen, and asking one to toss grenade can be tantamount to suicide under most circumstances, but they pull their weight, effective follow orders, and only very rarely get stuck on corners or each other.
Bright Lights, Sin City
Of course, the gameplay is only half the equation here in Vegas 2: the rest is made up by the game's exciting and dynamic setting. From the saturated purples of a night club's decor to the themed booths of the convention centre, Las Vegas once again proves to be a rich and satisfying playground to explore. Unfortunately, the six main missions are still disjointed hops between discrete engagement zones, which dampens the impact of the overall world. The game also relies heavily on cheesy invisible script triggers that makes the world feel like a series of jack-in-the-box showdowns, but such complaints are softened by an increased quantity of assault points, doors, skylights, bay windows, etc. that allows for more tactical creativity.
Recruit a human compatriot for co-op, and this tactical flexibility makes each detailed environment a joy to play through multiple times. Sadly, only two players can take on the main campaign and only the host can command A.I. squad mates, but players can enter and exit at will without interrupting their friends' progress. The game could have used more checkpoints so that players who don't survive firefights aren't needlessly punished but story elements no longer mysteriously disappear when you head online and every narrow victory and harrowing defeat is more meaningful and memorable as a shared combat experience.
Guns and Ammo
Vegas 2 adds another potent layer to its already solid replayability with an engaging reward system that bestows experience points whether you're ventilating some trash-talker online, or carving a path through 12 flawed terrorist hunt levels that support up to four co-op players even as they spawn terrorists out of thin air. As you make your way through 22 ranks, from Recruit to Sergeant to Elite, you'll unlock wearable equipment, from simple balaclavas and helmets to brawny assault armour. You'll have to be careful how you dress, though, since improved protection means decreased mobility.
What's more, kills can also count toward 'A.C.E.S.' rewards specific to twenty levels worth of three distinct combat disciplines: Marksman, Close Quarters, and Assault. Score a headshot, kill an opponent from behind, or wax a fool through cover, for example, and you'll rack up points in the appropriate category and earn powerful new weapons. Both progression systems are padded to a certain extent: every other level of each A.C.E. bestows experience points instead of gear, and too many hard-won ranks give you nothing but new camouflage patterns. Still, there's no denying the addictive pull of working to earn an AK-47 or a particularly slick customisable sniper rifle.
Making the Grade
Unfortunately, the encyclopaedic array of firepower can only add so much to a predictable collection of competitive multiplayer modes. Whether you're hunting a team leader, securing satellite dishes, planting bombs, or just tearing around in deathmatch with 15 other people, only the stylish scenery differentiates the experience from equally effective variations found elsewhere. Many of the map designs are remarkably well-tuned, forcing almost constant movement just to survive, but what this series urgently needs to stand out in this particularly crowded field is an inventive new mode. When you come right down to it, though, Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 succeeds thanks to its amazing co-op, carefully balanced gameplay and memorable setting. Sure, there are some aggravating scripting and design issues present but much like the city it's set in, Vegas 2's pleasure outweighs the pain.
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