52 Weeks of Canadian Gaming - Week 5
Rainbow Six Vegas 2
Release Date: March 18, 2008
Developer: Ubisoft Montréal
ESRB Rating: Mature
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
From the very start of my challenge, I was looking forward to Week 5 and playing Rainbow Six Vegas 2 as the Rainbow Six series of games have always been among my favourites on the PC.
The Rainbow Six series of games are tactical shooters based on the best selling novel of the same name by American author Tom Clancy. Rainbow Six was the first novel to revolved around Team Rainbow, an international counter-terrorism operation that is often mentioned in Mr Clancy’s books. The word "Rainbow" refers to the various ethnicity of team members and "Six" is military term referring to the leader of a squad or division. Rarely does a game have such a rich back-story to draw upon as with the Rainbow Six series. Unless one played all the games in the series (8 of them prior to this one) and read the novel, one may not fully understand everything that is going on in this game. That is not to say that the game cannot be enjoyed without the entire back history, but that it will be harder for newcomers to fully understand the complex relationship between various in game characters. For most Xbox 360 owners, Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is simply the follow up to the highly successful Rainbow Six Vegas game. It is important to note that this game is not really a sequel as the events of Vegas 2 take place before, during and after the events of Vegas. Part of this game actually takes part before the events of Rainbow Six Raven Shield. This is where knowing the entire Rainbow Six storyline really helps to understand the full story (but as I indicated, it is not crucial and therefore will be skipped in this write-up). Enough back story.
Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is very similar to it’s predecessor both graphically and gameplay wise. On the graphical side, I found the visuals in Vegas 2 a bit of a letdown. The graphics are not horrible, but offer very little improvement over the first Rainbow Six Vegas game. After playing graphical marvels such as Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia, Far Cry2 and even Naruto, the plain textures in Vegas 2 looked bland in comparison. I guess I have come to expect better from Ubisoft Montréal. Gameplay wise Vegas 2 does not disappoint. As indicated earlier, the Rainbow Six series of games are tactical shooters. In this new chapter gamers take on the role of Bishop, a out of retirement senior Rainbow operative. Each mission allows for more than one method of completion, some easier than other as a result each situation must be fully evaluated and a course of action established and then executed if gamers expect to stay alive very long. To this end, Bishop will command a squad of two men to perform various actions such as clear out room, disarm explosives or to toss grenades and smoke bombs.
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Many of the changes implemented in Vegas have reappeared in Vegas 2 with slight tweaks. As in Vegas, Bishop’s does not have any health bar, if shot his/her vision will start to get blurry and must retreat to cover to allow his/her health to regenerate. This is similar to the method used in the Gears of War and Halo series. Do not approach this game thinking that Bishop is another Master Chief as our hero can only take 2 to 3 bullets or one well placed head shot by a sniper before he/she will be pushing up daisies. Even when in cover, Bishop’s health will regenerate much slower than in those other games so as soon as damage is taken getting Bishop to safety and wait it out must become top priority. Likewise if a team-mate falls, it will be up to Bishop to heal him up. Bishop can do it himself/herself, or order another team-mate to do the healing. I keep mentioning him/her when talking about Bishop this is because gamers can customize Bishop to his/her liking and this includes gender (a feature not found enough in most games).
In my opinion the biggest change in Rainbow Six Vegas 2 was with the AI. In previous titles, team-mates would run into a stream of bullets if told to do so. In Rainbow Six Vega 2, the AI for Bishop’s team-mates has greatly improved. Team-mates will now quickly evaluate the situation and environment before taking action, and counter-react (by taking cover or eliminating targets) much more intelligently than before. I also noticed that they were much better at following orders but at times they still became confused and stuck. I discovered that the biggest trouble spot was when Bishop is ahead of his/her team-mates and then orders them to secure a door. On several occasions, I waited patiently for my team-mates to arrive at the targeted door only to find them surrounding another door. To resolved the problem I had to return to where I left them, get behind the dumbfounded duo and then to order the pair past the door that they surrounded, then towards the target door. While the AI for Bishop’s team-mates has improved, enemies are still dumber than dirt. I loved storming into a room, ordering my men to take out anything that moves, only to find another room with guards still on patrol, not acting any differently than normal even thought I showered the place in bullets just seconds before. In the world of Rainbow Six, doors and walls are 100% soundproof.
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The star of this game is in it's multiplayer modes. Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is one of those games that demands to be played with a friend. The main story supports co-op play and let me tell you this is the only way the game should be played as the game will be less frustrating and more rewarding. When playing the main story-line in single player mode, dying (or one of your team-mates dying) will force the gamer to restart at the nearest checkpoint. Later in the game this will result in dying several times just to figure out where all the snipers are located. In co-op mode, if a team-mate dies, he/she will re-spawn in a few seconds as long as the second player does not die. Once the main story is done, Vegas 2 has a lot more multiplayer action with over 10 multiplayer game modes and dozens of maps, gamers should be busy for a long time. Rainbow Six Vegas 2 continues the ranking system introduced in Vegas but now XP can also be obtained during the single player campaign as well. Each rank will unlock new weapons and gear. Another addition to the franchise is the use of the A.C.E.S. combat system. Each kill will reward the player with bonus A.C.E.S. points depending on the way the enemy was killed. A.C.E.S. points are awarded in 3 categories; Marksman, Assault and Close Quarters Battle. Shoot an enemy using a sniper rifle from across the building, Bishop gains +1 to his Marksman score. Gain enough points and his level in that category will increase giving the player access to new equipment or experience points. For a fun evening, play a game of Terrorist Hunt with 4 friends on Realistic level with the max amount of terrorist possible. This game is just plain fun.
As I indicated at the start of this write-up, I was looking forward this this week to play Vegas 2 and complete the game, but as it turned out, I was stuck in the middle of renovations for most of the week and did not get a chance to play this game as much as I was hoping for. I completed the first 4 acts (as I had lost my save game and needed to restart). Needless to say I do want to finish this game, but I quickly realized that my challenge does not allow time to return to past games.