At one time the crown for the greatest tactical shooter experience was firmly on the head of Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield
. Iíve followed the R6 games from day one and Iíve been a bit of a fan of the series. One of the best Rainbow Six games for me was Raven Shield
on the PC and it was a firm favourite, edging out the console versions by a mile.
Then came Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
and it put a bullet firmly in the head of Rainbow Six.
That was until the advent of Rainbow Six Vegas for the Xbox 360.Story
A routine mission to Mexico reveals some truths about the terrorist that the team are hunting, things go bad and Logan Keller (thatís you) is pulled out. Ding Chavez, the team leader is now the big boss of Rainbow and this new hotshot has a lot to prove. Las Vegas is under attack and itís up to Rainbow to discover whatís going on.
It might not be the deepest plot or the best story but it provides the background for some intense action.Gameplay
The challenge of making a console shooter has to be keeping it within the bounds of the consoleís control system. There was a deep strategic planning system in place for Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield where you could spend time planning the best assault plan. You donít have that luxury Vegas; you do have a simple and effective quick orders system that functions perfectly.
You simply point the reticule where you want them to go and a quick button press later, theyíll do the action that is associated with that location. Itís all context sensitive and based on two forms of engagement.
Assault and Infiltration, the actions vary depending upon the mode your team is set to Ė switching modes is as easy as hitting the left shoulder button. If thereís no action associated with the location then your team will move there and take cover if itís available.
Talking of cover, this is an integral part of gameplay in Vegas and is just as important as layers of armour. Youíre going to want to learn how to use the tactical cover to the best possible advantage, going into cover is easy (even better than Gears of War) thanks to the way that Vegas implements it. Hold down the left trigger and youíll be able to take cover against various objects, slide across walls and peek out.
The game is an intense one and the long winded briefings have been removed in favour of a more GRAW approach. PiP (Picture in Picture) information is fed into your HUD and you are kept appraised of the story through these sequences as well as interaction with characters using the in-game engine, rather like F.E.A.R
and at no point does it bring you crashing down out of the gameís rather adrenaline charged atmosphere.
Orders are given via the D-pad and there are numerous tweaks that make it stand head and shoulders above GRAW. Your team can stack up next to doors and depending again on your rules of engagement youíll be able to choose from a number of tactical options, frag and clear for assault and smoke and clear or flash, for infiltration mode.
All of these functions work without a hitch and you can set your team to cover one door whilst you take the other. By using the D-pad at the right time you can maximise the effectiveness of your teamís assault. To aid in this as well the developers have provided a tagging system, this lets you assign up to two terrorists to your team and they will make sure those targets go down first.
There is also a snake camera, just like in Splinter Cell
that allows you to observe a room before making entry. This OPA (Observe, Plan, and Assault) approach leads to a variety of different tactical decisions and forces you to often think on your feet especially in hostage crises where time is of the essence.
You quickly survey the room, tag two of the terrorists and then realise, if you frag and clear youíre going to take down the hostages too. Itís this kind of seat of the pants gaming Iíve been looking for, since Raven Shield
where every decision can lead to a different outcome.
With all these tools at your disposal plus various special ops gadgets, silencers, recoil suppression and tactical scopes Vegas is packed with lots of nice toys for the gadget obsessed amongst us. You have the usual night vision and infra-red goggles of course and a quick smoke grenade can turn the tide of battle faster than a frag if you have the drop on your opponents.
Vegas is also loaded with weapons, you can unlock a lot of these for use in split-screen and system link game modes by picking them up and then discarding them. There are some extremely powerful guns, the Desert Eagle and Raging Bull pistols pack an extremely large punch and can blast through most body armour without the need for a second shot Ė on the downside theyíre not very suppressed. They donít make the best choice if youíre looking to use stealth.
There are numerous new tactical options when it comes to assaulting certain areas, many of the levels have rappel points and fast rope locations where you can smash down into a room or carefully climb down the side and breach one of the windows. You can also flip upside down on the ropes and this affords you an inverted view of the room useful for keeping up a stealth approach.
The game uses an auto-save system and has numerous checkpoints to keep your progress fairly in check. These are mostly scattered throughout and certainly appear before mission critical areas, some of them however do force you to replay particularly tough sections of combat over again.
Vegas is a particularly punishing game if you make a wrong choice or use a bad tactical decision, in this way itís the perfect challenge for those people who try to play as realistically as possible. Thanks to the excellent control method and a very slick design itís easy to set up decent tactical attacks without the need for complex screens.