R6 Vegas takes the best elements of “Black Arrow” & mixes them with “GRAW" + “Splinter Cell” to create one awes

User Rating: 9.1 | Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas X360
Rainbow Six Vegas follows the same premise as the previous R6 games but this time sets the story around a central location (you do actually start the game in Mexico). This is the first Rainbow Six game to make the next-generation, with fans of the Xbox series (excluding Lockdown), myself included, waiting with bated breath.

I must admit that I was slightly apprehensive about this game after playing the demos. The single player demo was good, but was also a bit linear and suffered from framerate issues. The multiplayer demo also appeared laggy and slow and had some pretty rough textures, especially after playing Gears. Having now played the full retail game in both single and team multi-player I can honestly say my fears where unfounded – this is an amazing game!

The core gameplay from previous R6 games, particularly Black Arrow, has not only been retained and but enhanced to a level that makes this play and feel like the most realistic shooter out there. Additions include, an excellent cover mechanic -as good as Gears-, greater flexibility of team orders (GRAW), better team AI, Tango tagging on breach & clear, snake cams (Splinter Cell), rappelling (Splinter Cell),, destructible environments (cars etc…), equipment drops (GRAW) and more. The end result is some of the most immersive games I have experienced. You really feel part of the environment and right in the heart of the action. First Gears, and now Vegas, really set the standard for all future shooting games. If anything, the slower pace and realism of Vegas make the experience all the more tense and spectacular.

The level design is excellent, with plenty of variation: from tight claustrophobic allies and buildings, to sprawling yards and warehouses. Each level/checkpoint is huge and there are nearly always a number of alternative routes and strategies that can be employed. You are able to use you team to perform complex flanking manoeuvres, as well as multiple room entry points for the ultimate “flash and clear”.

The graphics are nothing short of beautiful with some highly detailed textures, water reflections, smoke, draw distance and heat haze (GRAW style). The Unreal3 engine (as used in Gears) is really put to exceptional use again in Vegas. The guns also look fabulous and have a satisfying solidity when wielded. Each gun can be customised with different sights and lasers, so you can take a basic Sub and upgrade it with a sniper sight if you wish – very neat.

Like most of Ubisofts ‘360 games the sound is excellent too. All the weapons have superb effects and the muzzling (you can silence most guns) is really neat and atmospheric in close quarter conditions. The usual “24” style music accompanies the missions and menu screens and is good enough to be catchy without irritating.

The multiplayer, like the single player, also plays and looks a lot better than the demo. The maps I tried where varied, detailed and action was lag free with a decent framerate. I could even hear the enemy talking with an echo effect! There a large number of game modes that will result, I suspect, in Vegas being played online a lot longer than Gears. All the single player controls and actions are retained, even the snake cam.

There has been much talk of the inclusion of camera support in Vegas. Scanning my face to the in-game avatar was very easy, with only two photos needed, and took about 2-3 minutes to render. It is quite strange to see your self mapped onto an avatar in this way but it seems to work. I could clearly see my big nose and fat head emoticon. The camera did make me look slightly bald (I have a crew cut) and grey but I think these were down to the light conditions. You can modify the camera settings when you take the picture to allow for grey or poor light.

Your game avatar can be further customized with hats (locked to start with), glasses, armour and camouflage clothing (whose colours can be customised further). I have tried to create a CTU TAC team look to my avatar and it kind of works. There is no doubt that this level of customisation, although not changing the gameplay, does add another level of immersion to the experience. However, I do wonder how long it is before we start seeing crazy things like a cat or dogs head. (I was tempted with my cat!).

This game is terrific value for money. As well as an exceptional main game you have coop (two modes) and multiplayer to keep you Tango busting for many months. The additional features, avatar, ranks, and achievements give Vegas plenty of mileage and I’m sure people will still be playing in 3-6 months time. I can’t comment on the single player game length, but even on the normal difficulty it is blooming hard and I can’t see many people finishing it in less than 10 hours.

In summary, Rainbow Six Vegas is an exceptionally good game and comes hot on-the-heals of Gears as one of the games of the year. I must be honest and say it brought a tear to my eye when I attached the silencer and bagged my first stealth-based tango – simply brilliant! Rainbow is back, and back at the top of the first person shooter tree.