GAMING GREATS #27: Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas (2006)

Thomas gets tactical. 

Who made it?: Ubisoft Montreal (Developer), Ubisoft (Publisher).

Genre: Tactical Shooter/First-Person Shooter

Platforms: Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3, PSP, Mobile.

Format: DVD, DVD-DL, UMD, Blu-ray Disc.

Release date: November 22, 2006

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six series seemed to have already come and gone in terms of mainstream popularity by the time Vegas rolled around for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. The first game in the long-running series was a groundbreaking first-person tactical shooter that broke barriers for the strategy/stealth FPS genre, and moved units on a massive scale as well. Rainbow Six: Lockdown, Vegas‘s predecessor, was a more cut-and-dry action shooter that few seemed to notice, thus halting Rainbow Six‘s firm grip on the subgenre. Within that same timeframe, other stealth-oriented series took over where the franchise had firmly jumped the shark (Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell come to mind).

It’s all the greater, then, that Vegas returned to the tried-and-true Rainbow Six formula; assessing the situation, breaching, clearing and playing it tactically. Lockdown, however mediocre it may have been, was only unsatisfying because it broke the unwritten rules as to how a game in the series should be made. Intensity and scripting don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, and that is what Vegas gets right. Be warned, though, Vegas is not an action game. Clips will be spent and limitless rounds will be fired, but play this run and gun and you’re toast. The focus has been firmly placed back on getting the upper-hand over your enemies stealthily, tactically even, then eliminating them quietly and with the help of your squad. Aiding you in your “journey” through a terrorist-infested virtual Las Vegas are your aforementioned squadmates who, surprisingly, help a lot more than they harm, and also a plethora of interesting but resourceful tools that you will need to survive.

For example, slide your Snake Cam underneath a door to see what’s going on inside the room adjacent to you without detection, or rappel down the side of buildings and then send you and your squad crashing through a window for a rather cinematic entrance. These are just a few of the more crucial aspects of gameplay that you can control to your liking. And the Snake Cam, first and foremost, not only allows you to get the drop on enemies quietly and efficiently, it also gives you the opportunity to set-up targets for your squad so when you do decide to breach the entrance, your fellow Rainbow operatives will take them down on sight.

Utilizing your squad effectively in firefights and even in basic map navigation, is also very important. Without them, you are as good as dead. Position your aiming reticule anywhere within the visible vicinity and send your fellow Rainbow operatives there by pressing A. Have them regroup by holding down on the D-pad or have them change their combat approach (e.g. infiltration or assault) by pressing LB. Almost any door can be interacted with by you and your squad. You can position them to breach and clear a room, frag a room, or simply clear it by each respective press of the D-pad once they are in position. These are very important commands and you will find, more often than not, that finding out how to properly use your squad in combat is key to coming out victorious in any of Vegas‘ dynamic combat situations. 

And for the first time ever in a Rainbow Six game, there is also a cover system. Pressing and holding LT while facing many assorted cover objects conceals you from most enemy fire. While in cover, you can either suppress fire by simply pulling Right Trigger or you can push the left stick in the left, right or up directions, respectively, to lean out and allow for a more precise shot. Zooming can be used – when in cover – by pressing in the right stick (also used for aiming down the sights/scope when not in cover). The cover system specifically designed for Vegas is a fantastic addition to the series that is both easy to use and tremendously intuitive. 

Vegas plays excellently, sure, but it also looks excellent as well. It was one of the first games to use advanced Unreal 3 Engine technology, and being a few years old, its surprising that it still looks as good as it does. Most impressive are the outdoor environments where the lighting and vast architectural design get a chance to truly shine. Although the engine is probably best known for vast lighting detail and superbly textured character models than memorable locales, Vegas manages to put you smack-dab in the middle of this virtual representation without ever betraying the illusion. The character models, as mentioned, are also finely detailed and highly bump-mapped, though I will admit that facial detail isn’t all that it could be. That is easily overlooked, though. 

Moreover, apart from Vegas’ gameplay and graphics, AI is also one of its strong points. Enemies interact with you and your squad realistically, often finding cover, flanking and working as a team. Your squadmates also tend to act as a real squad, focusing fire, responding to your orders efficiently, and helping out quite a bit in combat. Although its not perfect, its certainly a step up from the average Lockdown and prior Rainbow Six games given the vast advancement in modern technology.

I’ve played through Vegas for the PC and I’ve played through it again for the 360, and I’ll be completely frank with you, the 360 edition is THE version to get. A better framerate, more precise controls, easier maneuverability; it all just combines to form a better game. Although Lockdown‘s successor is not quite on par with the original Rainbow Six or its equally impressive sequel, Rogue Spear, it’s definitely one of the best games in the franchise to date. It has nearly everything you could ask for in a tactical shooter and then some. One of the best 360 titles and one of the best of its genre. The sequel’s not so bad, either.

Useless Trivia

(Via Wikipedia)
  • Rainbow Six: Vegas includes dynamic real world advertising on billboards and lighted posters in certain areas. Some dynamic advertising requires that the player be connected to the Internet, although the single-player campaign displays advertisements to the player on billboards by default, particularly Axe bodyspray.
  • In early 2007, Rainbow Six: Vegas became the first Xbox 360 title to join the Major League Gaming (MLG) Circuit. It premiered in the opening event of the season in Charlotte, North Carolina. This game had its last showing at Las Vegas Nevada, the final stop on the 2007 MLG Pro Circuit. However, Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, the game’s sequel featured on the 2008 MLG Pro Circuit, with its first showing in San Diego, California.

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