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Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2
Review By: Jared Black
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Squad-based FPS
ESRB: Mature
# Of Players: 1-4 (2-16 online)
Online Play: Yes
Accessories: PlayStation Network (online play)
Buy Now: Buy Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 at Amazon.com!

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Despite some initial concerns I had, ultimately the original Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas turned out to be one of the most fun FPS titles of this console generation. Anyone who experienced that game’s cliffhanger ending (or saw the sales charts) knew there would eventually be a sequel, and that sequel has now arrived. While there have been some solid improvements to the series’ always popular online modes, unfortunately the single-player experience isn’t quite as solid this time around.

In Vegas 2 the player takes control of Bishop, who leads his team in the fight against the overall terrorist threat that the player started fighting in the original Vegas. Naturally this involves more running around Sin City while chasing down the bad guys (albeit with more “normal” environments this time around and fewer casinos and such), with the requisite storyline twists moments and a huge betrayal that leads to a moral decision for the player at the end of the game. Although the storyline is largely irrelevant in the FPS genre for the most part, I actually found Vegas 2’s storyline to be a little more believable than the first game’s…for whatever that’s worth.

Like past Rainbow Six titles, Vegas 2 is still at its heart a game about carefully proceeding from room to room, clearing each area by issuing your team one of several different squad-based tactics to proceed. Like other recent Rainbow Six titles orders are still context-based, with a simple press of the X button issuing different commands based on what the player’s cursor is currently pointing at. If it’s pointing at nothing important the team will simply move to that location, but if it’s on a door or computer terminal the team will automatically stack up against it or hack into it respectively.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2

So although the core gameplay is basically unchanged from last time, the biggest change in Vegas 2 lies in the new experience system.   The series’ career mode, Persistent Elite Creation, once again returns more robust than ever, now that the new experience system rewards the player with XP for virtually every meaningful action. Earning enough XP in turn allows the player to rank up, which unlocks new gear to equip in battle. This makes almost every action (and how it’s carried out) more meaningful, and adds an almost MMO feel to the game. As any World of Warcraft addict can attest, earning XP and unlocking cool new gear can be about as addictive as gaming gets.

Depending on the tactics the player uses, specialization points are also earned in three different categories: Marksman, Close Quarters, and Assault. Earning points in these categories also unlocks additional gear related to those specializations, so if you play the game while using primarily sniping and long-range tactics, then your Marksman rank will improve and earn you new Marksman-related gear to enhance your style of play.

While I praised the A.I. in the original Vegas as “the smartest A.I. I’ve seen in a Rainbow Six title to date,” unfortunately Vegas 2 does nothing to improve upon that and perhaps even takes the franchise a small step back. Both allies and enemies will occasionally stand out in the open and get pummeled without having enough sense to take cover, and I saw more A.I. inconsistency in general in this game than I remember seeing in the first one. Vegas 2 also supports voice commands, which I’ve long been a fan of, but I found that several commands that used to work in past Rainbow Six titles no longer worked here (even though they’re still usable with the controller). To make matters worse, this game had more trouble interpreting what I said properly than past Rainbow Six titles did on the original Xbox as well. In fact, the instruction manual only lists six possible voice commands in all (including hold, regroup, assault, infiltrate, tag, and move to commands), which is disappointing considering Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3 (released way back in 2003) boasted support for over 89 combinations of voice commands in all! Despite that and a few A.I. issues however, on the whole Vegas 2 is still a pretty “smart” game overall, it just doesn’t do much to improve upon its predecessors.

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Posted: 2008-07-05 10:31:23 PST