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Rainbow Six Vegas Review

Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: December 12, 2006 Also On: PSP, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360

A big factor which has kept me from playing earlier Rainbow Six games was their complexity. I remember my first time trying to play a Rainbow Six game; having to choose my teammates, their guns, armor, etc., and then trying to get everyone to do what I wanted them to while avoiding being shot even once. Initally, I was worried about this complexity in Vegas, but that feeling quickly faded. You start by being dropped into Mexico, blasting through a desolate urban setting, in order to get used to the controls. The first major part of the game to strike me, however, was the amazing graphics. Powered by the Unreal 3 engine, Vegas brings a new level of realism to lighting, shadows, and AI. But more importantly, in this game rather than just making the graphics as realistic as possible, it’s obvious that the developers made each level a theme. For instance, in Mexico, colors are very low-contrast, reddish shades. Instead of a realistic blue sky, you get a light reddish brown cityscape, giving you the feeling that it’s HOT. Or in the actual Las Vegas levels, Neon is overbrightened and bloomed, giving an overwhelming effect to the amount of lighting used. I have a lot of respect for developers who choose to use a system’s power to not only make a game more realistic, but more artistic… more fun to look at. I KNOW what Las Vegas REALLY looks like, now show me graphics that make me feel like I’m there. No, the sky in mexico isn’t red, and your skin color doesn’t change depending on what country you’re in, but it gives you a graet feeling of involvement as well as an escape from the monotomy of some game engine’s looks.

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Gameplay-wise, Vegas brings a lot of new features to the table. First of all, you can approach any form of cover (a box, a wall, a car) and right-click to lean against it. This feature throws you into third-person view so that you can see, to some degree, around the corner. If you move toward the edge of the cover, you’ll peek out the side, where you can get a good shot at your enemies. If you move upward, you can expose JUST your gun, to provide innacurate (but intimidating) covering fire. Most in-game actions are controlled with the spacebar. If you aim at a spot on the ground, for instance, and press the spacebar, a small gold cone will appear, and you (Logan) will send your teammates to that location. Spacebar is also used for actions like opening doors, healing teammates, stacking on a door, utilizing a rope, rappel, and many other “up-close” actions. Pressing alt will command your team to regroup on you, and pressing it again commands them to hold position. Controlling your team is really as simple as spacebar and alt. When you approach a door, you have the choice of either opening the door blind, using your “snake cam” and looking underneath, or having your team “stack” on the door, where they lean against either side and prepare for entry. You can choose, depending on the situation, to “open and clear”, “flash and clear”, “breach and clear”, or “frag and clear”. You can stack your team one door, while you wait at another. Just as you give the signal to breach and clear, you can open the other door and flank the enemy. This allows for tons of combinations of ways to clear rooms, especially those with many doors and areas. It’s not a good idea to let your team work alone. They can only take as much damage as you, and when they go down, you only have a minute or so to get to them and heal them. If you are very near them, you can use spacebar to heal them yourself. If you’re not close, or busy, you can command your non-injured teammate to heal the one who is. This can result badly, though, because your injured teammate fell exactly when he was being shot… so if you go to heal him you’re in the line of fire.

Other interesting gameplay mechanics include the “fast rope”, which is just a rope dangling from anywhere which you can slide down (like a helicopter or balcony), and rappel hooks. At multiple times in the game, you’ll be required to rappel down the side of a building, and either shoot enemies inside windows, breach into the windows, or just get to the bottom. You must also control your teammates rappelling, commanding them to go either up or down, or breach. It’s in cases like this that I’d rather have my teammates just do what I do. In another case, however, I wish they’d let me choose. For example, if I put on my silencer, so do my teammates. If I crouch, so do my teammates. There were cases when I wanted to use my silencer but not have my teammates use theirs (for tactical reasons), but this could not be accomplished. You also can take control of turrets, and pick up items like tactical shields which can be used with pistols to block most bullets being shot at you. The AI in this game is great. Enemies realistically use cover and advance on you, and sounds are spot on. If you’re clearing a room and two enemies remain, one might yell “Shit! Cover me!” and the other may reply “No way! You cover me!”. They also use frag and smoke grenades very well, and even warn their fellow terrorists to cover their eyes before they throw flashbangs (sometimes you’ll also hear “JUST THROW IT!!” when a terrorist announces that he’s going to throw a grenade). Sadly, I found a few occasions in which I actually saw enemies spawn right before my eyes. Kind of unproffesional, if you ask me.

On the note of sound, though, I have to point out that this game has minimal sound options. In most games, you can choose what type of sound hardware you have (AC97, EAX, EAX 2,4), choose how many speakers you have, mic volume, and control the volume of sounds to music, but in Vegas ALL YOU GET is sound volume and music volume. Although the game does sound good, it could sound so much better if it utilized standard PC sound options. It’s also worth noting that although this game has relatively low system requirements, it is on a next generation game engine, and I even had to lower my settings significantly to get a good frame rate. All in all, Rainbow Six: Vegas is a great example of how amazing a game can be on the new Unreal 3 engine. It combines amazing graphics with great AI and intense, complex gunfights. The story is kind of generic (Terrorists are going to blow stuff up), but it brings you to great locales such as Mexico, Las Vegas, and the Nevada Dam. The game is dissapointingly short (ends with “to be continued” – LAME), but multiplayer brings a great selection of co-op and deathmatch options worth checking out.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 8
Written by Dave Review Guide