52 Weeks of Canadian Gaming - Week 36
Rainbow Six Vegas
Release Date: November 12, 2006
Developer: Ubisoft Montréal
ESRB Rating: Mature
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
For those not in the knowing, the Rainbow Six franchise is based on a fictional elite group of international counter-terrorists. The team spawned from the imaginative mind of famed author Tom Clancy. Team Rainbow, headed by Six, was first featured in a novel of the same name. Since then, the franchise has been ported over to a highly successful series of tactical first person shooter games and will be the focus of a feature length film slated for a 2010 release date. Rainbow Six Vegas is the first title of the franchise to be released on the Xbox 360 console. The game was produced by Ubisoft Montréal.
The story in Rainbow Six Vegas starts off in a Mexican border town as team leader Logan Keller, and Alpha Team members Gabriel Nowak and Kan Akahashi are on a mission to arrest Irena Morales, a terrorist ringleader. After it appeared that the mission was a success, a single mistake allowed Irena to not only escapes, but to also take Nowak and Akahashi as hostages. Logan’s request to pursue Irena was refused and he was re-assigned to lead the Bravo Team, members Jung Park and Michael Pampin, into Vegas to deal with a new disturbance.
Visually the game looks very good for an early Xbox 360 title. There are some bland textures here and there, but overall the game does look quite nice and detailed. The city of Vegas is, as one would expect it to be, filled with plenty of neon lights. The game character models are detailed and nicely animated. My only complaint is that there is not enough variety among enemy models. Simply put, all terrorists look alike.
The audio in the game is very solid with guns all sounding quite deep and rich. Character voices also sound quite good, but do suffer a bit of volume consistency. The biggest issue, and one that clearly displays one of the biggest flaws off the game, is the lack of diversity. There simply were not enough dialogs recorded for the game. The game’s premise is one of patience that will require the gamer to spend a lot of time creeping slowly from room to room eliminating any terrorists found. This will allow the player plenty of time to overhear conversations between guerrillas. It will not take a very long to notice that they have a habit of repeating the exact same dialog over and over again. Similar to the visual, all terrorists sound alike and, for some strange reason, they all speak fluent English.
The controls in for Rainbow Six Vegas are near perfect for the needs of a team leader. With the use of a single hand movement (pressing a single button on the controller), Logan can issue commands to his squad, change weapons and use grenades or smoke bombs. These actions can be taken while overseeing the battlefield or from the comfort behind a cosy crate. Vegas also allowed the gamer to connect an Xbox 360 headset and use vocal commands, but this feature is highly unreliable as the game would most likely interpret the wrong command that is if it interprets anything at all.
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The highlight of the game must be the artificial intelligence in use. Jung and Michael will follow any of Logan’s orders, but will not be afraid to disobey if those orders place them in direct line of fire. As they move from room to room, they will perform an amazing job of spotting and eliminating any bad guys in visual range. They are also a much better shot in close range than most real players. In fact, relying on the duo to do most of the dirty work is essential to the completion of the game. Their only real weakness is in ranged targets. This is where strategy comes into play as the duo should be used to flank the enemy or lay down suppressing fire while Logan takes the glory shot. The AI is not perfect though. At many times, team-mates will get stuck in open doorways, just standing there waiting for to command to allow them to open a door already wide open. This does not happen often enough to be annoying, but it can still happen.
Team Rainbow are not the only ones to benefit from advanced AI as the terrorists also display advanced fighting capabilities. Enemies will attempt to flank the team when possible. They will also make use of any available cover and will even co-ordinate attacks by using suppressing fire, while snipers attempt head shots. The game’s default playing level will test the skills and patience of most gamers, but for those that are a little on masochistic side the game also features a realistic mode. This game mode will make all but the toughest and most hardened soldiers (and Chuck Norris of course) weep like a little school kids. In realistic mode, one or two bullets are all it takes to down Logan or a team-mate. Oh, did I mention that the enemies on realistic mode benefit from deadly accuracy.
The game is true to the nature of tactical shooter. Going into a room with guns blazing will ensure a quick death. The game does not allow the benefit to save the game anywhere/anytime the gamer desires, but rather utilizes a checkpoint system. If Logan or one of his team-mates perishes, the game will need to be replayed from the last checkpoint. While the checkpoints are not extremely far apart in distance, the tactical nature of the game can set these checkpoints 30 or more gaming minutes apart. Unlike his squad mates, Logan cannot be revived if downed making any slip-up very time costly. Needless to say, it pays to be cautious in this game. Before entering a new area, Logan should first asses the situation by using every available tools at his disposition, in most cases this will be the snake cam. The snake cam is a small camera that is slipped under the door allowing a good team leader to evaluate the layout of the new room and identify the location of any occupants within. Using the snake cam also allows for Logan to identify (tag) up to two enemies for Jung and Michael to take out first, perfect for those pesky hostage situations. The snake cam is also compatible with Logan’s night and heat vision goggles. Once a room has been fully scouted it is time to used smoke, flack and incendiary grenades to provide a nasty surprise for any occupants within. At times it may be wise just to approach a room from a different angle. Scout the area, look for a higher vantage point and break out the rappelling kit and rain death upon the usurping scum. Being a member of team Rainbow is never boring.
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A side note on realistic mode. The realistic level only applies to the abilities of the AI and level of damage produced by the weapons. The game environment does not reflect any type of realism. Bullets can destroy flower pots, but not much more. Hiding behind a thin sheet of plywood or drywall will provide all the protection that is required to stop a barrage of high powered bullets or even shield against a grenade (who knew). Logan’s health will replenish itself after a period of rest. While the length of time needed to recover is quite long compared to other games, it is still quite unrealistic as a bullet to the leg in real life will not magically heal itself if no other shots are taken in the next thirty seconds. Part of the game is scripted in that enemies will only appear after a specific event has been triggered. Spending an hour to clear out every room of a building, only to have dozens of new enemies spawn out of nowhere once an objective has been reached is neither realistic nor very fun (as it will most likely cause an untimely death and a restart from the last checkpoint). Also who is the terrorist mastermind who was thoughtful enough to keep crates of ammunition and weapons stashed all over the place so that Logan could pillage allowing him to change weapons and restock his depleted cartridges. Do not even try to counter with the logic that the crates were in fact placed by the Rainbow team. If that was the situation, how did they know were and when the terrorist would strike, unless Six is the mastermind behind the entire scheme. I digress; the game is so great that the only thing I can complain about is simple plot holes.
Rainbow Six Vegas is a lot of fun when playing the single player campaign, but the real fun of the game is the multiplayer action. The game will allow up to four gamer to play through the entire story in co-operative play. Part of the fun when playing co-op is that unless all four team members are downed, gamers need not restart at a checkpoints making the game less tedious (and way easier when playing on realistic mode). The programmers also removed the ability to tag enemies when playing in co-op mode forcing players to actually communicate with one another. The monsters!
If playing with friends to take down artificially intelligent terrorists does not sound like an adequate challenge, maybe taking on the same friends is the sport of preference. Rainbow Six Vegas allows up to sixteen players to battle it out to prove who the supreme Rainbow operative really is. Either single player or with friends, Rainbow Six Vegas is a blast to play and should be enjoyable to all shooter fans.