It’s 3am in the morning and there’s one terrorist left. Just one. I’m on low health but I can make it. I grapple down the roof, moving slowly with my feet tapping against the window. There is my target. Steel eyes, now locked on to me, I make the shot. It’s too late. Mission over, you died, continue?
Rainbow Six is one of those few titles I can’t help but hate, love, laugh and just cringe every time I play it. Every time my friend comes round we always crack open the newest title, and then once an hour we cascade our eyes across to the ‘Vegas’ pile. It tempts us, we stare into its black heart and then give each other a quizzical look. Once in a while, we will slowly put it into the console, but cautiously we will back away from it after a while. There’s a rare moment, however, when everything just comes together. We’ll start using some military lingo, or something funny will happen. Such as my friend being killed by his own grenade or us both falling to our deaths as we clumsily grapple down the side of a building. Rainbow Six is a punishing, intense and awfully designed game. It makes fun of you, it just keeps pushing you until you turn it right off, it is a lot like Demon’s Souls (a comparison I have made a billion times this week).
Vegas is basically one big giant tactical shooter with the realism amped up. It is set in an FPS view, but you take cover in a 3rd person view. This ensures that you’re dizzy 70% of the time, confused 10% of the time and shooting 20% of time. There’s never a dull moment in Vegas, and as they say, it’s the city that never sleeps. You’ll be constantly changing your equipment, managing your squad and making sure everything it spiff spoff perfect. Any little mistake can drastically just kill you in seconds or even less than seconds, in fact you’re pretty much dead from the get go you say “Hey, you know what would be cool? If we got out our shotguns and ran into the enemy nest.”
It’s sad then that something went horribly wrong with Vegas 2. Instead of big locales for the single-player, we trudged through the boring parts of Vegas. It seems to me that we took the $90 tour on the first game and now we’re just driving back to the airport, even missing out on a good finale, the first game had hoover dam. There’s no love or redeeming qualities about the sequel, it is one big giant mess after another. Technically issues, graphical issues… there’s null improvements either, it just comes across to me as a ‘Left 4 Dead 2’. Left 4 Dead 2 was a great expansion on the series, which is all a sequel should ever be to annual titles. However, Rainbow Six isn’t a annual title, in fact there hasn’t been another title in the series since Vegas 2. I would’ve liked a whole different location change, something akin to what Army of Two did, trapping the two protagonists inside one environment. New York would’ve worked nice, but that’s just my opinion.
I feel I will get a lot of bite for saying this, but Vegas 2 is still a great title. It isn’t big on innovation, if anything it’s a copy pasta job, and it’s hard to differentiate the two. One of the special things about the Rainbow Six franchise is that the single-player isn’t the heart of the action or the game, in fact, it feels like an extra in Vegas 2. Multiplayer and co-op modes feel strong as ever, with customization just tipping over the edge of ‘way too much, but who the heck cares’. It’s an intense shooter, which does still capture the mechanics of the first but still doesn’t stand on its own yet. It feels like MW2, honestly, nothing much has been changed and it can only get better. If you want to face the truth, the only real ‘new’ gameplay mechanic is the addition of a sprint button. I guess Ubisoft thought too much innovation would cause our faces to melt.
By no means is Vegas 2 a bad game. The first one had a distinctive flavor, the type of breaking new ground that just exploded in popularity. If you’re looking for a great squad co-op or multiplayer game, this is it. It’s still as frantic and dangerous as ever, two or three bullets will kill you in any mode, and it always feel energetic and moving. The pace seems to lighten up and allow for imagination to flow from the player’s fingers and into his gaming actions, you’ll be picking your targets, firing flash bangs and making tough choices to orientate your team effectively. It’s a well built and sturdy machine and maybe Vegas 2 suffers from being a sequel. Like I said before, it does have OL4D2 syndrome (Obsessive Left 4 Dead 2) and constantly keeps bickering about whether to innovate or just lay down and die.
Tom Clancy has his name used in many of Ubisoft’s primer big hitters. Splinter Cell tried to assassinate Hitman, which it eventually did, and Endwar now has Clancy’s name pepper sprayed all over its massive corpse. H.A.W.X has the Clancy tag and so does that over title which completely escapes my mind. At the end of the day, maybe he’s just a good writer, but his sequels are kinda lacking in the whole ‘game’ department. When you make a game in the Rainbow Six franchise, it should always feel fresh and sturdy, not just a rehash of some old mechanics.
I look forward to Rainbow Six: NYC. Hint hint.