Ubisoft didn’t leave much room for improvement after the first installment of Rainbow Six Vegas, but they aren’t about to stop trying. With Rainbow Six Vegas 2, Ubisoft is proving that nobody can touch them when it comes to squad-based tactical shooters.
Like the original, the control, camera and collision detection on this game are a dream come true. Movement feels completely natural, the camera can be moved to show any preferred view at any time, and the squad follows orders obediently. The gameplay is very similar to that of the first title, but why fix something that isn’t even broken? The decision to include a sprint ability was also added this year, and it proves highly useful when advancing from cover to cover.
The amount of customization that has been added gives the game a lot of depth. When booted up for the first time, the game detects any previous ranking progress on the original Rainbow Six Vegas and applies it to Bishop and the new game, along with unlockable bonuses. In addition, the weapons, armor, gender and appearance of Bishop can all be adjusted to the user’s preference. But best of all, a new system called A.C.E.S. has been added whereby experience points in different categories may be earned in order increase rank and unlock new rewards including clothing, armor, and weapons. A.C.E.S. are awarded whether playing solo offline, co-op, or online, and in any mode.
The main storyline may be played alone or co-op with a friend who may drop in or drop out at any time seamlessly. Unfortunately, only the host has control over the A.I. squad members, who are also present during co-op play. Tactics as they relate to planning your team’s actions are one of the strongest points of the game, and it’s a shame player two does not get the opportunity to partake. Nonetheless, co-op play is great fun as you chat, discuss strategy, and take out the bad guys with your buddy. The story is not particularly long, but quality is more important than quantity and this game has it in spades. Since all that fun is likely to induce a strong desire for more, the variety of "terrorist hunt" extra missions are much appreciated.
Also available is online competitive multiplayer for up to sixteen players. A good variety of game play modes is featured, including a few new ones, such as Team Leader. In this mode, as long as your leader is alive teammates may continually respawn. However, once the leader is eliminated, the next death will be your last. In Demolition, another new mode, each team attempts to blow up a target defended by the other team. The maps are attractive and provide a lot of options strategy-wise, and technical problems are virtually non-existent.
A great variety of weapons is available, and Bishop can frequently change out equipment to suit each new level, as several different machine guns, light machine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, and pistols are always available. Weapons may be exchanged at one of the many equipment crates in the game, and dropped enemy weapons may also be picked up and used.
Over 39.2 million people visit Las Vegas every year because of the alluring and exciting locations to explore there. For the same reason the locations of Las Vegas make for a very engrossing game. Ubisoft has done a great job of capturing the spirit of Las Vegas – from a casino, to a strip club, to a recreational center, to a neon sign graveyard, to the desert, and much more. Suprisingly, the levels here are even better original On top of being interesting, the level designs allow for a variety of options to suit a myriad of different strategies. Especially useful is the ability to send the squad to one door while Bishop flanks at another. The levels come in many shapes and sizes, offering everything from mazes of small rooms to huge wide-open areas. Different types of environments call for different strategy, resulting in a satisfying challenge.
The sound is faithful to the Las Vegas sense of style as appropriate music is paired with the different areas. The electronica played during attack sequences sufficiently increases the intensity without being too distracting. As for sound effects, weapon shots and explosions are realistic and satisfying. Some of the voice acting can be goofy at times, but it’s really funnier and entertaining more than annoying, particularly in the case of moronic enemies telling lame jokes clueless to the fact that their elimination is imminent.
The A.I. in the game is usually very good on both ally and enemy fronts. Enemies have access to the same equipment as Bishop, and they won’t hesitate to use it. Expect baddies to utilize advanced equipment such as smoke bombs and heat-sensing goggles. Enemies also flank, take cover and pop their heads out in different places, and cooperate with each other. Also, if Bishop dies and respawns at the last checkpoint, the enemies do not always behave the same way again. They may use different gadgets, be in different places, or show up in different numbers. Forget about memorizing an enemy "pattern". This quality of A.I. really makes Rainbow Six Vegas 2 stand out compared to a lot of shooters. Once in a while a squad member will do something stupid, but far more often than not they are effective, helpful, and take cover on their own as well as covering each other while advancing. Also, while this game is challenging it has plenty of checkpoints, so the difficulty does not come from tedious and frustrating repetition of lengthy sections of the game, like some others. All of the challenge here is meaningful, rewarding, and satisfying.
The graphics look very good, especially in the character animations. There’s a lot of detail on the environments which make them feel more convincingly real. There are a couple of games out there with smoother lines and more perfect graphics, but not many. Very rarely, slight lag will occur when there is a lot of action on the screen, but it’s not imposing enough to impact the game play.
Like the slot machines and poker tables of Las Vegas, this game can easily get a person hooked. But unlike the games of Las Vegas, buying Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is definitely not a gamble. This is the best squad-based tactical shooter out there, and one of the best shooters the genre as a whole has to offer.