Rainbow Six Vegas 2 – You’ve Probably Already Played it

August 26, 2008 § Leave a comment

Playing Rainbow Six Vegas 2 it’s had to shake the feeling that it’s all been done before. Sure in the past experience points may not have rewarded notable actions, or the press of a button sent Logon Keller sprinting, but for the most part this is the same game you played two years ago, albeit with a couple of minor tweaks and additions.

Contrary to what you may have believed after you saw the “To be Continued” message from the end of the original Vegas, it’s sequel doesn’t pick up immediately afterwards. It actually starts before the beginning of the first game which is important for two reasons. Firstly you’re no longer Logon Keller, rather you’re Bishop, a character who’s physical appearance is entirely at your mercy. Secondly this means that the game is set before the escalation of the terrorist ploy, and as a result you’re still in Vegas giving some anti-Americans a kicking.

Unfortunately the time line of Vegas 2 doesn’t allow for much of a shocking narrative. If you were a fan of the original you’ll know most of the plot points before they happen, and it’s only towards the end of the game when things get interesting. The story is mostly told through radio chatter between your squad and HQ, but occasionally you’ll overhear terrorists on the other side of a door discussing the intimate plans of their organizations, completely oblivious to all the gunfire from the next room. Thoughtfully the game never uses cutscenes, and so those less keen on this predictable tale are free to take no notice.

Rainbow Six’s trademark ultra-realistic urban warfare has stayed intact during the move to the sequel. On making your way through this lengthy shooter you will be required to plan your breaches into rooms carefully, and then take cover often to avoid a very quick death. Even taking cover is by no means a sure fire way of staying alive when bullets have the uncanny ability to pierce right through it into your back. The combination of these design choices will leave you very dead, very often, sometimes with little clue as to how your demise came about.

Luckily you won’t die alone as throughout most of the game you’ll be accompanied by your two squad mates, the British demolitions expert Michael and the Asian computer hacker Jung. These two men will bravely breach any room you dare to point your crosshairs at, and for the most part they’ll be able to hold their own in a firefight. Their AI however isn’t perfect and neither is your ability to order them around. In Ubisoft Montreal’s haste to make the game more accessible they didn’t see fit to allow you to order your squad mates to locations independently. In practise this means that you should only really order them to pieces of cover wide enough for the two of them, so as not to leave one out in the open. They may also get confused should you give them an awkward set of commands, in which case you’ll need to try again until they understand.

So far, so Rainbow Six, but the big addition this time around is the introduction of the RPG-like ACES system. The idea behind the system is that the more you play with your character, either online or offline, the more weapons and equipment you unlock. The game will assign you points in three key areas: marksman – for getting headshots and kills from afar, close quarters – for shotguns kills and the like, and assault – for grenade and turret gunner kills. Whilst it’s nice to know that you’re always gaining points in some manner, the system never changes how you play the game, aside from the brief moment of joy when you realize you’ve unlocked a new weapon.

In almost every other respect though, Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is almost entirely like it’s predecessor. The graphics are still capable albeit lackluster, and enemies rarely take on anything more intelligent than targets. The addition of a sprint button makes those dashes between cover slightly less nerve racking, but no single part of this game has changed enough to warrant it being called a real sequel. Worthy of note is some significant slowdown in the PS3 version in some parts of the game, it’s never a system-resetting problem, but it’s enough to damage your flow.

Vegas 2 is not a big step in any direction for the series. It takes what the first game did well, adds a few features deemed necessary in this post-Call of Duty 4 world, and sends it out on its way. Ultimately if you enjoyed the first game you’ll probably enjoy this, just don’t be surprised when the feeling of déjà vu hits. If you didn’t enjoy the first game though there’s little reason to give this one a try, unless the mere mention of experience points gets you frothing at the mouth in ecstasy.

Peace out

Jon

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