Judging by its critical and commercial success on the Xbox 360, Rainbow Six Vegas is a game that the PS3 sorely needs. So it's good that the PS3 is getting its own version of Vegas next week. An intense tactical shooter, Rainbow Six Vegas puts you in the boots of an elite, NATO counterterrorist commando out to save the world. And by world, we mean Las Vegas--but then again, if Vegas blew up, lots of people would be sad. We've already previewed the single-player portion of the game, and recently we had a chance to check out its multiplayer action. And as any Xbox 360 Vegas player will tell you, the multiplayer is where it's at. The PS3 version will actually feature more multiplayer content than the Xbox 360 game. Not only does it have all the original maps seen in the Xbox 360 version as well as the maps that were sold as part of the Player's Pack Red Edition, it also has five exclusive maps. So we battled Ubisoft to get an early taste of the action.
First, we checked out a team sharpshooter match on the new Red Lotus level, which is exclusive to the PS3. Red Lotus is a fictional restaurant in the single-player campaign (and from the size of the level, the largest restaurant in the world), so it only makes sense that the multiplayer level has the same theme and style. This is a very tight, indoor level, with narrow corridors that make direct assaults difficult. There are three floors in this level: The bottom floor is the restaurant, the second floor is composed mainly of hallways and dining rooms, and the third floor is the roof. You can use the roof to fast-rope to the bottom floor or snipe through the large skylight windows at targets below. Things are so close-quarters, though, that you're probably better off with a submachine gun or a shotgun, as well as plenty of grenades.
From Red Lotus, we moved on to Border Town Redux, a map that was included in the Xbox 360's Player's Pack Red Edition. The first Border Town map proved to be extremely popular for Xbox 360 players, thanks to its gritty setting and its mix of indoor and street combat. Border Town Redux changes the lighting conditions to dusk, so you have to use your night-vision goggles more, and makes the Spanish-style church in the map the center of the action. Due to the long sight lines, it's nice to have a decent medium- or long-range weapon with a scope, so you should pack an assault or sniper rifle.
Next up was an attack-or-defend battle on Research Labs, a map that shipped with the Player's Pack Red Edition. Research Labs is set inside a top-secret research facility in a hydroelectric dam, so it's got a cool, high-tech feel to it. Attack-or-defend is exactly what it sounds like. One team has to storm in and seize a briefcase and return it to its starting point, while the other team has to stop them.
If you're an old-school Rainbow Six fan, then the next level that we saw might warm the cockles of your heart. That's because Presidio, the classic level from Rainbow Six: Raven Shield, is back. Presidio is a "kill house"-style of level, in that it's designed for two teams to just go at each other in a relatively small and confined space. You can run around outside of the building in the level, where it's nice and bright, or you can charge into the ground floor, where it's dark and gloomy. A second floor makes things more challenging for attackers, as stairways make for excellent choke points for defenders. We played the conquest mode on this map. There are three satellite uplink stations scattered around the map. When you control an uplink station, you begin to accumulate points. If you control two or three uplink stations, you accumulate points that much faster. The first team to hit the designated victory total first wins.
Another interesting mode is assignation, which is essentially the VIP mode from earlier Rainbow Six games. One team serves as defenders, and one member of the defending team is randomly selected to play as the VIP. The defenders have to escort the VIP, clad in white shirt and dress pants and armed with a pistol, to an exit point, while the attacking team wins if it can kill the VIP. Needless to say, it really, really helps if the VIP and his escorts are talking to one another, because nothing will make you feel more helpless than seeing the VIP going off on his own or charging in front of the pack only to get capped by a bad guy. We played this on one of the exclusive new levels in the PS3 version, Casino Vaults. This is another cool map, as you get to battle in and around the high-security areas of a casino. There are server rooms, a security control room, and plenty of offices and hallways to duck into.
Then it was on to another remake level, in this case, Kill House Redux. The Kill House is basically a mock setup that Rainbow uses to practice its assaults, and Kill House Redux is a fluid level because there are so many ways to attack it. There are basically two structures facing one another, with narrow alleyways surrounding them. You can try to get on a rooftop and snipe, shoot from one of the windows, run around the outside of the structures, run inside a building, and more. Kill House is perfect for team sharpshooter matches, as the map is fairly symmetrical, so there's no terrain advantage for either team.
Finally, perhaps the coolest of the exclusive new PS3 levels is Neon Graveyard, which is basically a junkyard filled with all those oversized, gaudy things that Las Vegas is stuffed with. We're talking giant cowgirl statues and neon displays. Those alone make this level visually distinct and cool, but it's also tactically interesting. The junkyard portions of the level are outdoors, though the junk provides plenty of cover. Then there's a large warehouse structure in the middle of the level that provides close-quarters combat, as well as plenty of sniping possibilities. Get up to the top floor and you can shoot out a window, climb through the sill, and find yourself on the roof, overlooking the junk pile. Or you can find yourself in an office overlooking the warehouse interior.
As you can probably tell, there's a lot to see and do in Rainbow Six multiplayer, and we didn't even get to check out all the modes or maps that will ship with the game. There's plenty of incentive to play as well, as you gain rank and unlock new weapons and pieces of equipment that you can outfit your character with. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that the PS3 version supports the face-mapping feature that was seen in the Xbox 360 game, the one that let you import your own face (or any face, for that matter) onto your character. Still, you can see why Rainbow Six Vegas has consistently been one of the most popular multiplayer games over Xbox Live over the past year, so it's a safe bet to say that the upcoming PS3 game will find a similarly warm reception when it launches next week.