It’s been well over a year since a Rainbow title breached the latest generation of consoles. After the shocker that was Lockdown the series needed a huge dose of revitalisation and Vegas gave it that. It may have not championed Rainbow Six 3 but it was a solid enough effort to keep hardcore Clancy devotees happy. So how does Vegas 2 compare?
If you’ve played Vegas you’ve played Vegas 2. The game plays, controls, sounds, and even looks identical to its predecessor right down to the nonsensical cries of the terrorists. The lack of a good makeover is the most disappointing aspect clawing at the slightly decayed carcass of Vegas 2 and considering the fleeting single player campaign strongly reinforces the notion that the game is an overpriced expansion pack.
In a similar fashion the plot is more Clancy twist-riddled nonsense. Terrorists are running amok causing muted chaos (where are all the cars/ people?) leaving huge bombs in casinos, and capturing as many hostages as possible before team Rainbow storm rooms and win hearts. It’s a little darker than before but you’ve heard this tale of woe and heroism before.
The narrative shapes the gameplay and, as such, the player is constantly moving through linear corridors and clearing undersized pockets of terrorists with the occasional hostage to rescue or bomb to defuse. Thankfully many of the set pieces from the previous game have been discarded and the I rarely found myself defending Jung as he hacked a computer with an excruciating disregard for the ineffective nature of your armour. It’s simply more of the same Rainbow action.
Despite this the single player campaign still manages to maintain a certain degree of entertainment and there’s just enough variation in the level design to separate it from Vegas. Though the player no longer controls Logan, Bishop is a carbon copy; once more adopting leadership in dispatching Jung and Michael to their temporary graves over and over throughout the course of the game. If you like your shooters akin to Doom you’re definitely equipped for the wrong fight as frustration cruises through the veins of Rainbow’s Vegas like bullets the air and, in keeping with its predecessors, the latest installment prides itself in being obnoxiously difficult at times.
Be prepared for a shot of cruel punishment should you refuse to scrutinise a door with thermal vision or your trusty snake cam before fracturing wood from hinge. More likely than not an enemy has been waiting for you to peer tentatively around his door so he can adorn the walls with a splash of blood. Don’t expect any second chances either, in the corridors that fabricate the majority of the game he who misses generally dies. It rarely feels as though your death is a direct result of your own stupidity, more so the horrific AI has decided to embark on a crusade of idiocy or you’ve slipped round a corner into the unlucky end of a shotgun wielding lunatic.
Besides the single player campaign, which brushes slyly at the door of double figures, the popular terrorist hunt surfaces again offering players the opportunity to maneuver through levels with a predetermined amount of ‘tangos’ to eliminate. The option to use your team-mates as meat-shields has been included. Setting up tent, cracking open a bag of marshmallows and leaving your team to mop up is pretty effective. You just have to watch the counter tick down as each enemy falls into the same ridiculous trap as the last. Special mention should also be made to the map Presidio, tirelessly navigating its way from the nightmare of four Rainbows’ passed. I’m not sure why the developers couldn’t include more than a handful or original maps but I’m of the opinion hard work was not high on the agenda at Ubisoft HQ.
Probably the most enticing characteristic of Vegas 2’s limited arsenal is the ranking system bestriding the lone wolf campaign, terrorist hunt, and multiplayer component. The points awarded count not only to an overriding level, but also towards rewards (guns and equipment.) The system is solid but in essence wasted on the gamer that isn’t willing to spend hours astray in the dull multiplayer experience or replaying the same levels over and over. These players will find their weapons and equipment almost entirely locked and unusable in the single player campaign. What is, in principle, an idea with potential is let down by slack execution. However there is a healthy array of weapons to choose from despite that and this is one of the games strong points.
Ultimately Rainbow Six Vegas 2 enslaves itself in a prison of mediocrity, a forgettable romp through Sin City occasionally flirting with brighter prospects. Those who aren’t stacking up for the multiplayer experience will find themselves disenchanted with just how analogous the game is to its predecessor. It’s tough not to view this as a fully priced expansion pack to one of 2006’s most popular games and even with assorted additions to the enjoyable terrorist hunt feature, the game never truly gets out of second gear. That said if you have been waiting in a puddle of your own drool since the tame finale of the original Vegas you’ll no doubt find something to like.