E3 06: Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas

We headed to E3 to find that the elite counterterrorist squad known as Rainbow is apparently headed for Las Vegas. Get our impressions here.

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LOS ANGELES--Nothing says "Electronic Entertainment Expo" quite like tactical shooting action for next-generation consoles. On a related note, we're on hand at E3, where Ubisoft is showing Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas, a new tactical shooter for the Xbox 360 and PS3. As the title suggests, the game will take place in the glamorous city of Las Vegas--specifically, you'll play as Logan Keller, the current leader of the elite military squad known as Team Rainbow, on a hostage rescue mission. A civilian VIP named Dr. Schmidt has apparently been taken hostage in one of the glitziest resorts on the strip, along with a group of other civvies who are being held hostage by (wait for it) crazed terrorists armed to the teeth. The terrorists have made it known that they're playing for keeps and have threatened to kill one hostage every hour until their demands are met (or until they're all shot in the head by an elite military squad, whichever comes first).

We watched a demonstration level in which Keller sits in his chopper with the rest of his squad, listening to a mission briefing from his intelligence officer with the local news station on the radio in the background while flying down the Las Vegas strip. Suddenly, the chopper begins to take fire from below, which prompts the pilot to pull down near the building, letting Keller and his teammates fast-rope down onto the roof. The game then switched a third-person perspective as the scene switched from cinematic cutscene to gameplay. We watched as Keller made his way along the roof with his teammates, leapfrogging from cover to cover by alternately pressing up against ventilation shafts and steam vents. Once he and his teammates hit the door, we were presented with a context-sensitive iconic menu (which we've seen in previous Clancy games for consoles) for different options on opening doors. As we saw, it's possible to split your teammates up by giving quick hand signals to assign teammates to other areas.

However, in this demonstration, we watched as the entire squad decided against using the door and instead used climbing ropes to rappel down the side of the building just above a huge plate-glass window. Just as our teammates made their way down to the window, we caught a fleeting glimpse of a hapless civilian fleeing for his life before getting brutally gunned down. In response, we gave the order to our squad to push back against the window, then swing forward, smashing through the glass and attacking the terrorists head-on. Once we disposed of the terrorists in this room, we then proceeded to the next door and used the game's new "snake cam" (a wire camera, similar to the one Splinter Cell operative Sam Fisher carries) to see under the door. The camera displayed a blurry video feed that showed terrorists staking out several positions in a gaming room full of row upon row of slot machines. You'll also receive occasional transmissions with more information from your intelligence officer, who will appear in a picture-in-picture view in the upper-left corner of your screen, and it may cut away to footage of the local news.

Interestingly, in Rainbow Six Vegas, whenever you have line of sight on an area (whether by direct sight or with the snake cam), you can "tag" any hostiles you see, which assigns them to various members of your team. In this way, you can have some of your team members queued up to attack specific targets on one side of a room, while you burst into the other to flank. This tactic worked extremely well in the casino room; the only casualties were some of the brightly lit slot machines, which poured out piles of coins when blasted open. This other tactic also worked well in the adjoining area, a foyer located just under the casino room where Dr. Schmidt and several other hostages were being held. We tagged a few of the terrorists on the far side of the room and fast-roped down on the near side, which let us quickly and surgically take down the remaining terrorists and rescue the hostages. It also gave us just enough time to observe the ticking down of a timer on a large monitor at the far end of the room near the window; as the timer reached zero, the towering resort building opposite the casino exploded outside.

While Ubisoft isn't discussing any details regarding the game's multiplayer, Rainbow Six Vegas' single-player game should offer a highly evolved tactical shooter experience that improves on just about every aspect of Ubisoft's previous Rainbow Six shooters. The game is scheduled for release later this year.

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