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Rainbow Six: Vegas (review)

J.E. Sawyer


Caveat lector: I have not played any of the other Rainbow Six games, so I did not come into this title with many expectations. Also, I'm just jotting down thoughts in no particular order.


This was the first game I've played for more than a few hours on my Xbox 360. It felt easy to get into. Though the game had a lot of mechanics, they were introduced step-by-step, though I think I might have missed a few tips along the way. The controls seemed sensible for the most part, but switching weapons or attachments was a pain since both thumbs had to come off of the thumbsticks, usually with the left trigger held down.


The first person perspective was usually a hindrance, and I took cover just as often to see my character and what was around him as to avoid enemy fire. Since I couldn't easily track my squadmates or their status, I was regularly checking up on them visually, which can be annoying in a precise console shooter. I have to admit that I am not a fan of audio-only feedback on my squadmates. Tons of people are yelling, bullets are flying everywhere, and I often can't sort out what the hell is going on. The reality of war, but I don't want it on my Xbox 360, thx.


I liked that my squadmates would follow suit with me. When I crouched, they crouched. When I equipped my suppressor, they also equipped theirs. I'm not sure I understood how their stealth mechanics work, because I think I could set off a daisycutter in the room next to two guys and their response would be, "Did you hear something?" But it was nice to mark guys, open and clear, and hear the muffled bullets of my teammates as the dots disappeared.


Grenades felt more powerful/dangerous than in most games I've played, though the smoke grenades seemed to work inconsistently. Maybe that is by design. I thought that the weapons were not differentiated well. Perhaps they were trying to be realistic (again), but I felt little reason to select any given assault rifle over another assault rifle. Usually I wanted a weapon of a given class, with a certain attachment, and with the highest ammunition capacity. I carried around so many magazines of ammunition and came across so many equipment containers that only once in the game did I have to pick up the weapon of a fallen enemy.


The level design was very interesting, as I usually had several options for traversing any environment and engaging any given set of enemies. I was always looking to the left and right, up and down. Very good use of vertical space. And despite the fact that I was fighting humans with guns throughout the entire story, I never tired of it due to the different environments and challenges that they presented.


"Hold this spot while Jung **** around on a computer out in the open" moments were among the most irritating in the game, a sentiment two of my co-workers agreed with. My annoyance grew when I realized that the computers were always placed facing in (toward a cubbyhole) to prevent you from taking up a tactically sound position when the inevitable clown car full of guys poured forth. Those sections seemed to be very "against" your game training. "Guys, sit in a box facing outward toward a field full of potential murder camps."


My squadmates usually moved very well, and I was impressed by how smart they were -- both with and without orders. However, on a few occasions they would try to move to the inside of a door when I would command them to move to a doorway while looking through my snake cam, when in almost all cases the desired effect would be the opposite.


Rappelling was a lot of fun, especially when I could set up my squad to breach just as I came in through a doorway. There were some really fantastic firefights following that sort of set-up. I also liked the use of thermal goggles and how they would often be foiled by flames, generators, etc.


I thought the story was fine, but the terrorist characters were pretty absurd. Irena just seemed like a dumb, generic terrorist and I didn't really care about killing her. Her motivations were unclear, and I didn't have any real attachment to my early Rainbow team members, so I never got as pumped up about tracking her down as my character was.


Despite its few gameplay flaws (and the fact that sometimes levels will load without textures), I thought this was a very fun game overall. I felt like my shooting skills and my command skills were equally important. My teammates were valuable, I was valuable, and it seemed as much about tactics as taking precise shots at the bad guys. I award this game 6.3 of 8 flashbangs.

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You're lucky you got the 360 version as there are plans to be supported from Ubisoft that will come in patches and new maps. The PC version on the other hand is a poorly optimized buggy port, awkward multiplayer interface that is being ported directly from the console(No ability to set passwords, number of rounds, a proper display of network latency ect.) and most of the times the multiplayer games are prone to crashes. So far, no word of a possible patch to fix these issues or even attempt to support the community officially or in the forums. As a result, many old Rainbow six old time clans moved on to other games.


Rainbow Six Vegas and Lockdown is somewhat a controversy to many old Rainbow Six players which I think you may realize. Rainbow Six is all about realistic tactical shooter game that defines its own genre when it was first released. It was so popular and unique that the game was even featured in the Times magazine I recalled. The game is all about strategic planning and a one shot, one kill motto game. As a result, it had small but growing and extremely dedicated Rainbow Six fanbase that grew bigger as more sequels and expansions were released (Rogue Spear and Raven Shield). However, the release of Lockdown came as a shock to the Rainbow Six community as the game is suddenly geared towards more of an action shooting based game made with console in mind instead of a tactical shooter. Thinking its a mistake in design decision Ubisoft made, the community shrugged and looked forward to the next game which is R6: Vegas.


When R6: Vegas was released, there was an air of disappointment amongst the community as the game remained as an actioned based shooter. However, the funness behind the gameplay made up for it. (Note, I am speaking in the perspective of a PC user which makes up the core structure of the Rainbow Six community which the first three games were released in PCs first) Despite the fun, the community had to go through endless of frustrations due to a buggy, poorly optimized port and there is not even an option to create a dedicated server for multiplayer! Many are angry but they decided that probably the patches would fix what was left out from the game like SADS. Unfortunately, the patches that claimed to fix the bugs never got them fixed at all and the community were simply given a semi-SADS for multiplayer with no ability to create custom maps. The last patch for the PC fixed some bugs that are considered as low priority by the community that only enraged the loyal PC fans even more. As a consequence, Rainbow Six franchise had lost many players that had stuck with the name ever since its first incarnation.


I do not know what the gaming industry is currently taking now but it seems they are more focused in providing the console market more than the PC now by bringing games originally from PC to continue its life consoles. However, I feel that its best not to abandon the roots of the Rainbow Six franchise, which is the fans that had stuck to the game for so long only to be abandoned as the game is geared and built only for consoles in mind. Imagine Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2, made for PC with the toolset that came along with it that makes up the franchise's fanbase only to have its sequel, Neverwinter Nights 3, made specifically with a console in mind with no Toolset and then to be shoddily ported to the PC. That is what had happened to Rainbow Six.


Rainbow Six unfortunately isn't the only popular tactical game that became such victim. Another well known Clancy title, the "Ghost Recon" series went through the similiar evolution of the franchise. Perhaps the publishers feels that it is worth to discard the roots of how the franchise came to be in order to attract general casual gamers. But as a result, the franchise had lost its original spirit that it had always tried to strive for.


Glad you like the game Josh, but I'm sad and angry with the direction the franchise had taken now which something you may not understand since you never stayed with it from the beginning of its birth.



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I always understood that Rainbox Six and Ghost Recon were a lot more lethal and heavily ambush-oriented than the new games. Rainbow Six seemed similar (at least on the surface) to SWAT. I watched a co-worker at Midway play Ghost Recon and it looked very creep-and-kill-oriented.


I enjoyed Rainbow Six, but I can see that it's not really the same game as the original. However, I also didn't play it on "realistic". GRAW2, on the other hand, I did not enjoy on any level.

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I enjoyed Vegas 360 quite a lot. Possibly my favorite game on the system next to Gears. I didn't play it singleplayer, though. Did you play it coop at all, JE?


I would have liked a better mapping system (for mp, at least). And I do miss the map planning phase of the original.

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I don't own a 360, but I played Vegas splitscreen coop with a buddy and we had a great time. It's a shame that the story elements are removed in coop, but in coop

we didn't have to deal with guarding some NPC while he hacks a computer (which is a plus, I suppose). I've just played the first two levels or so in SP.


The only guard-duty sequences I've enjoyed in games that I can remember are in Alien Swarm (mod for UT2003/2004, soon for HL2), also in coop. One player hacks a computer while the rest defend him against hordes of bugs... then again, the place where the computers are placed are often designed for defense in that mod.


Anyway, you should give Rainbow Six: Vegas a try in Coop, if you liked the gameplay. Coop FTW!

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