• Rainbow Six and Xbox has been a match made in heaven for a long, long time. The original Xbox saw multiple versions of Rainbow Six and played over Xbox LIVE became a firm favourite with FPS fans across the globe. Ubisoft on the Xbox 360 had already given us Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, and the wants for a Xbox 360 Rainbow Six game were soon answered when Ubisoft announced the pending arrival of Rainbow Six: Vegas. Time moved on and with the beauty of the Xbox LIVE Marketplace, fans were given both offline and LIVE demo’s to wet their appetites, and… all this before the release of the full game. Now the game has hit the shelves it is time for us to find out if it is worth your time, efforts and more importantly… hard earned cash.

    Vegas the title of this latest Rainbow Six offering as the name suggests bases the latest chapter in the bright lights of Las Vegas, albeit your journey actually begins in Mexico. You now have a new three-man team, thus only giving you two computer controlled AI team-mates instead of the usual three AI grunts. Another noticeable difference for long time fans of the game is this team is a brand new Rainbow Team Squad and your usual suspect Ding Chavez who led the way in previous outings, has now been promoted to the role of the boss man himself; ‘Six’. So this time you now play the role of Logan Keller, recon expert with Michael Walter, heavy weapons and Jung Park, hacking specialist backing you up. Your team is smarter (I will get back to you on that one Ed), even taking occasions to offer you advice and with the brand new cover system, this version of Rainbow Six is a whole new ball game.

    Game modes in RS: V come in the form of the usual offline story line plot to play through with two difficulties; normal and realistic… realistic being a true test for any gamer. You also get a single player terrorist hunt to test your loan wolf skills, and a whole host of Multiplayer options/modes to sink your teeth into, including; Sharpshooter, Team Sharpshooter, Team Survival, Survival, Retrieval, Co-Op Terrorist Hunt and Co-Op Story to name a few. It is very safe to say there is a lot to experience playing RS: V and you will be spoilt for choice and very busy for months to come… put it this way, your one thousand gamerscore on this game is not going to be achieved over night.

    Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas

    RS: V plays in the first person shooter view, so your main viewpoint consists of the weapon you are carrying, with an aiming reticule on the screen. Movement and turning are assigned to your thumbsticks, weapon fire on the right trigger, with the left trigger used for cover (more on that later). The D-Pad is used to issue certain team commands, such as ‘hold’, ‘on me’ or to execute a command like storming a room. Face buttons are used for the likes of throwing a grenade, changing weapons/rate of fire, opening doors, interacting with objects and reloading your weapon. Shoulder buttons control your vision modes and your team tactics, and by tactics I mean; ‘weapons free’ or ‘go silent’. And finally the back button when pressed will bring up a tactical map, this larger than the one viewed normally on screen.

    A new feature to RS: V is the cover feature, and as highlighted above you press and hold the left trigger to achieve this move. Practically any object will allow you to cover behind it, and all you need to do is to walk up to an object hit and hold the left trigger and you will then be switched to the third person view and able to fully see your character. The neat feature to this apart from being able to hide from gunfire is the ability to lean out using your left thumbstick and fire, letting go of the thumbstick then places you back behind cover. You also have the ability to blind fire by going to cover and just hitting the right trigger… the downside to blind fire is that you are ‘spraying and praying’ and unless a target is right next to you the odds of hitting anything are slim at best. This cover system is a superb addition and one that is most certainly needed to help you survive the world of RS: V… the other nice part here is that the cover feature has also been added to the multiplayer and makes for some tense gun battles with either side bedding themselves in. However do be warned that certain areas provide better cover than others, so you could find yourself thinking you are okay only to be shot up to hell within seconds… so be realistic and pick your cover spots carefully.

    Another new addition to RS: V is the practiced military method of ‘OPA’ and this features very heavily throughout RS: V. If you have no clue to what OPA means, then fret not as it refers to Observe, Plan and Assault… your team quite often have to clear out a room of terrorists and on occasion clear the room whilst keeping civilian hostages alive. Now with RS: V you can no longer just blunder into a room and get away with it, the enemy AI is far too intelligent and will make you pay for poor planning. Ubisoft have designed the game with the intention that you will apply OPA, and when used, becomes the smartest room storming method and when used properly incredibly exciting too. Now then stay with me, as I will lead you through what I mean. You and your team approach an area where you can hear noises on the other side of the wall with you also spotting there are two doors into this unfamiliar area. You move to the first door looking at the base of the door and take the snake cam prompt. With snake cam activated you can see safely into the room and this is the “observe” piece. Making a note of the terrorist movements you begin to “plan”. Hitting the back button on up to two targets you mark the two terrorists you want your team to shoot first, making a note of the targets you will personally take down. Moving away from snake cam, you order your team to the door and make your way to the other door… giving the go command your team bursts through the door taking down their targets allowing you to move through the other door providing your team with the cover fire and taking down your personal targets… this of course is “assault”. So in a nutshell, there you have it and all that – this is ‘OPA’ in action. Trying to put this in words can become long winded, but you will only have to practice this a couple of times before you are clearing an entire room of terrorists in a mere matter of seconds. It really is without doubt sexy as hell to do and damn satisfying to know you got it right.

    These new additions to the game have certainly taken the Rainbow Six franchise to the next level and a very welcome addition they have become. RS: V now feels every bit the tactical game it should and is certainly no “run and gun” affair. The enemy AI in this game is amazingly clever and will quite simply rip you and your team apart from bad planning on your behalf… you really do need to think about what you are doing at every single step of the way. Now the enemy will storm rooms you are in if they hear you, if they spot you they will also go to cover, call for back up and will try and flank you at every step of the way. I have loved every step of this game… and it becomes very satisfying for you to overcome each stage using your own clever tactics and in built new game mechanics.

    Now then… where the fun of the offline game leaves off the multiplayer aspect of RS: V picks it up and legs it at high speed ensuring the smile remains on your face. Multiplayer as highlighted above comes in multiple shapes and forms… modes that will test your loan wolf skills right through to how you work in a team. Team as in teamwork is very important in any game and very much so in RS: V… a good team can destroy the opposition with good communication and sticking with team tactics. The flip side of course is that a bad team will just have their backsides handed to them on a regular basis. My point to this is that Xbox LIVE has been around for a long time now and the single player jumping into a team based mode and not knowing anyone on his team, will nine times out of ten find a team not talking and only winning by pure luck, but of course, quite often losing and thus causing frustrating moments for the player aching for a good game session. Now whilst I make my point that you will certainly enjoy playing RS: V more with people you know, the point in fact is not really focusing on just RS: V the game but… in that focusing on most LIVE ‘team’ games. However all that said and as mentioned if you have some buddies get them in this game and get on LIVE as you will love every second. Rainbow Six: Black Arrow had been an amazing success on the Xbox platform and RS: V has certainly taken everything that was sexy as hell with RS: BA and raised the bar giving us gamers an experience not to be missed.

    In addition to how good Multiplayer is, it is worth highlighting that RS: V has taken the PEC (persistant elite creation) mode from the very lame Rainbow Six: Lockdown… given it a PEC v2 title, and now (better late than never eh Ed) we have received a nice feature. PEC mode allows you to create a character that will grow in rank as you gain experience points by playing over the Xbox LIVE Multiplayer aspect. You character will start as a Private 2nd Class before jumping up through the ranks and in turn unlocking some nice little extras, which include weapons, armour and clothing. The change over what Lockdown ran with is that the extras are “nice to haves” and not necessary for survival… this was the mistake Lockdown produced making it VERY necessary to rank up to avoid being “owned”. The other additional, new and very slick feature with the PEC creation is that should you own a Xbox LIVE Vision camera… then you can take a picture of your face and map it onto your LIVE persona. The quality here is pretty damn good albeit the back of your head appears to have a metal plate as you are not required to take a shot from the back and the personal face can be a little too glossy. That said face mapping is still cool and a neat little extra, even if you are only aiming to unlock the achievement associated with it.

    Looks wise and sound wise RS: V is a mixed bag. Graphically the game is pretty slick but does not sit in the amazing bracket, in some portions of the game things become a tad choppy as if the game is attempting to run as fast as you are yet fails. Don’t get me wrong it is a very nice looking game and when compared to other Xbox 360 titles it sits at the top end of the good looks scale… its just not perfection. Sound wise however is awesome, from music score, through to weapon fire ending in little neat touches like footsteps, echoes and such like. The audio aspect lends to the game and creates the tension needed to make the player that much more cautious… it works and hats of to the developers.

    In looking at what is bad with RS: V then I can sit here scratching my head wondering what really is wrong with the game, to which is a good thing, as we don’t want problems with games. However as much as it took me a wee while to remember some of the niggles RS: V does only have a few and a few problems are better than lots at the end of the day. Firstly and even though we have received a patch already, the shotguns in the game seem to have a better range than the sniper rifles… dying by shotgun from what seems like miles away is very frustrating and well… damn annoying. Secondly the offline portion of the game is not that long and while at this point I have not completed the game – the time it has taken me to get near the end has been short at best. Now some may disagree with me here but I prefer a game to last… yes the game has longevity with the multiplayer aspect but my point is focused on the offline portion and its just a wee bit too short for my liking. Another slight issue and one you can call a bug if you like, is that on occasion when someone is about to come through a door, you will see their arm or leg sticking through the closed door before it is opened, and whilst this is a great warning to prepare you for the onslaught… it’s just a bit shit to see a polished 360 game with quirky bugs like this. The final niggle and could be down to connectivity issues between players, but I have noted on several occasions that during multiplayer the game will just freeze and forces you to re-boot your 360 to get going again.

    In closing out Rainbow Six: Vegas really is a superb game to play from all angles, providing excitement and good fun to be had by all. I would even go to say that RS: V is a better overall package of a game when compared to Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter and if you have not purchased RS: V yet… then it really is about bloody time you did.

    Score: 10/10

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