|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 18, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2; the name is nearly the same and so is the game. However, a few tweaks and additions here and there have slightly improved this tactical shooter. The intriguing level design, solid presentation, and killer online play have Rainbow Six Vegas 2 coming up sevens!
Veterans of the series will be thrilled to know that well enough has been left alone. The same great gameplay we have come to love is fully intact. On the other hand, don't expect a whole lot of innovation. In fact, Vegas 2 almost feels like a lengthy expansion to the original rather than a full fledged sequel. I'm sure that comment will have the accomplished folks at Ubisoft Montreal a bit miffed, but as a critic of the series I would be remiss if I didn't point it out. However, as a fan I'm ecstatic with the feel of the game and the final result. It's everything you'd expect from a Rainbow Six title. New additions to the game include such mundane things as new weapons, armor, and a sprint function in addition to more significant extras such as a unified campaign and online player-created identity, expanded online modes of play, seamless single-player to co-op campaigns, and an even richer advancement system.
The ability to create your own face via LIVE Vision or the PlayStation Eye and then rack up experience and upgrades that go with you in both single and multiplayer modes, is fantastic. There are eleven all-new, concentrated multiplayer maps and two new adversarial modes called Total Conquest and Team Leader. These new multiplayer modes really help to set Vegas 2 apart tactically from other multiplayer shooters, and the improved co-op mode allows players to join in with friends and online buddies mid-campaign. Being able to jump in and out of the co-op story is a great feature. Finally, the tiered advancement system is genius and feels very rewarding. Not only will you be rewarded with XP for your proficiency both off and online, but you will also be rewarded with A.C.E.S (Advanced Combat Enhancement Specialization) points for specific actions including long range kills, close combat, and getting around an enemy's cover. Your XP and A.C.E.S. points will accumulate and you will be rewarded with weaponry, clothing, gadgets, and equipment to help further customize your character.
As one would expect, the campaign is completely new though the story is yawningly standard. But who really cares right? What makes Vegas 2 so good is the engrossing level design. For those unfamiliar with the series, the linear feel of standard shooter campaigns is broken up in the Rainbow Six series by rooms with multiple entry points and cramped, obstacle-laden facilities that make you cover your six, constantly find protected areas, and methodically purge the complexes plagued by the terrorist threat. Tagging tangos with your snake cam before chucking in a flash bang is a must if you expect to survive in the "Realistic" difficulty level. The only problem with this methodical approach is that eventually it gets to feel routine rather than interesting. That being said, the attention to detail and uncanny realism poured into every level makes Vegas 2 feel more like an armed forces-developed tactical training simulator rather than a $60 toy for your living room.
The visuals are good if not quite as crisp as they could be. Fortunately, the frame rate is smooth and allows for truly engaging, glitch-free fun. As I previously mentioned, the environments are very realistic and help to bring the tactical shooter to life. I also really enjoyed the detailed equipment, clothing, accessories, and weapon choices. They are incredibly accurate and lifelike, and are a joy to unlock and wear as a badge of courage and skill in multiplayer frag-fests. Aurally, the game packs a wallop. The world of Vegas 2 sounds amazingly authentic, and the voiceover work really makes you feel like you're part of a clandestine special forces unit. Details such as the chatter over the comms devices, the sickly gurgling of mortally wounded foes, and the unique report of the various weapons are great. I did have to turn down the sound effects and music however, in order to be able to hear the interactions between the intel sources and my squad.