BARCELONA, Spain--Las Vegas is burning. Granted, some folks feel that burning Sin City to the ground would be a good first step toward civic reformation, but as a member of the antiterrorist outfit known as Rainbow Six, you aren't paid to have opinions. Instead, you are paid to be a member of one of the most highly trained and dedicated (fictional) military units in the Western world. And if your commanding officer says you're going to do something about some burning casinos, then, by God, you're going to do it quickly and efficiently. This is Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas, after all.
First things first. You need to get your briefing before you infiltrate the burning quagmire that is the game's version of Las Vegas. So you sit patiently in the deployment chopper as the pilot flies you around some of the hotter hot spots in a city that has seemingly been overrun with bad guys. Everywhere you look, there is smoke or burning flame. The casinos, once bastions of adult recreation, are aflame, and hostages are counting on you to save them. Briefing over, you're flown to an inspired locale known as Dante's, an under-construction casino with a churchlike façade where you and your squad mates zipline out of the chopper and into the hotzone.
More or less right away, you're met with the sounds of gunfire and the flash of muzzle fire. If you're quick, you greet your would-be assailants with some gunplay of your own--if you're slow on the draw, you can expect your squad mates to pick up the slack. That's one of the nice aspects of being a member of such an elite squad--everyone knows not just their own job, but your job as well, and everyone's prepared to cover everyone else's butt.
Once the entrance is clear, you command your squad to the ledge to clear out any tangos who might be looking to blast you when you come down the scaffolding to the lower level. It's one of the challenges of the environment that composes Dante's; with all of the construction, it's tough to get a good line of sight to any target. On the other hand, with all the junk laying about, there's plenty of opportunities for you to take cover and fire from a safe position. To find cover, you simply run up to any solid object and press the left trigger. The camera will automatically switch from the traditional Rainbow Six first-person view to a third-person view that will let you easily peek around corners and fire both with accuracy and from a safe position. If you like, you can even send in your teammates to go do your dirty work. You can even give them subcommands on whether or not you want them going in with guns blazing or to use some discretion when taking out foes.
After crossing a short walkway and climbing a ladder, then sending a third wave of baddies to meet their maker, the current floor is cleared. However, thanks to your mission briefing, you know there's an entirely new and exciting set of jackballs on the floor below you just waiting to be fed hot lead sandwiches. It's time to get rappelling, a feature that's new to the game and one that works exactly like you've seen in the movies. To engage the feature, you simply walk up to a rappelling hook and press the A button. You'll then automatically climb over the wall and onto the side of the building to be in position to rappel down the side of the building. You do this by pressing the A button to jump outward from the building and then pressing down on the analog stick. Once you've reached the right spot, you can breach the window by once again pressing the A button. You'll get the jump on whatever enemies are inside, but you'll want to be quick with the boom boom, because it won't take long for the bad guys to get their bearings and start looking to put holes in you.
With its strategic approach to the action genre, next-gen graphics that are at once starkly realistic (yes, that's blood you see coming out of that guy's head), gorgeously rendered (if you consider Vegas' neon cityscape attractive, that is), and wall-to-wall action, Rainbow Six Vegas is looking like another winner in the long-running series. With just about two months to go before this one hits store shelves, we look forward to bringing you more bloody reports from the casino floors in the coming weeks.