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Rainbow Six: Vegas

Rainbow Six: Vegas is a game that has some history and gamers that loved the series may not like what it has become. It puts the focus on the action and is much faster than previous titles of the series. Having said that, if you install the game, keeping the above statement in mind, I am more than 100% positive you will enjoy every second of it. The game looks absolutely stunning, sound is like magic and it supplies huge amounts of pure, high quality action scenes.

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INTRODUCTION

In general, I am not a pure action games fan, at least not the common ones that throw me into an arena / jungle / castle / whatever, fill the place up with stupid enemies, let me choose between a variety of devastating weapons and just shoot in all directions killing anything that dares moving or breathing within a few meters from me. I mean, no matter how good the graphics are, it just gets boring after the first 3 minutes or so.

Don’t get me wrong. There are situations where I could enjoy such games but those are too few to mention. I need the game I am playing to challenge me in more than in one aspect. I’d like it to be intense, wise, use the environment to create interesting situations, be as realistic as a game can be. I am here to tell you I found such game, it goes by the name “Rainbow Six: Vegas”.


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What is Rainbow Six?

Rainbow is an international counter-terrorism organization hosted by NATO and saying it carries out the most top-secret missions and operations will be an understatement. The organization is consisted of two teams that operate all over the world according to threat priorities and scale. Rainbow Six is a well known and respected series of games that contributed a lot to the shooters genre, bringing some new approaches while defining a new sub-genre that we call “Tactical Shooter” these days.

The first two games of the series, Rainbow Six and Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear, along with their expansions packs, were developed by Red Storm Entertainment. The rest of the games in the series were developed and published by Ubisoft, who acquired Red Storm Entertainment. I guess I could say that Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six games are more action based and less tactical planning is needed in comparison to Red Storm’s ones, a fact that many gamers did not like…The first games made you plan ahead for hours before you even start the mission.

You could find yourself playing the same mission for several times, planning and finding the best and safest way to enter a room where hostages are being held. This could result in much frustration for the player and it took much patience and consistency to get it right. Also, you controlled up to 8 teammates armed with different weaponry and abilities while now your team consists only 3 people.

I must say that the moments that followed a successful mission back then brought much satisfaction and pride for you as the player and those moments made the game a huge success! Ubisoft replaced that tactical planning with more flowing action segments aiming to a wider audience and you know what, I am not sure it’s bad at all. In fact, it is great! One more fact I wanted to indicate is that Rainbow Six: Vegas was ported from the Xbox360 version. Usually, when porting from a console to the PC, the game is changed and many things are added / omitted in comparison to the original version. In this case, Ubisoft thought they had done a great job on the console and made the PC version identical. You know what? They were right!


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SPECIFICATIONS

Source Information

Published By:   Ubisoft
Developed By:   Ubisoft
Genre:   Tactical FPS
Release Date:   December 12, 2006
Official Website

System Specs

Minimum:

  • Operating System:  Windows XP (Only)
  • Processor:   3Ghz Pentium® or AMD equivalent
  • RAM:   1024MB
  • Hard Drive Space:   8GB
  • Video Card:   DirectX® 9.0c-compliant
  • Sound Card:   DirectX® 9.0c-compatible
  • Peripherals Supported:   Mouse, keyboard, headsets, Xbox360 Controller, etc.
  • Multiplayer:   Local area network (LAN) and/or 128kbit Cable/DSL connection for online game

As Tested:

  • CPU : Core 2 Duo E6600
  • RAM: 2GB
  • GPU: 8800GTS 640MB
  • HDD: 2x160GB 8MB SATA2
  • Windows XP

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THE STORYLINE *SPOILERS*

I must admit I never really liked the story line that the universe of Rainbow Six (including Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell) offered. In most cases it was too vague and the events were not necessarily connected in any way. Most of it was just an excuse to get the team travel from one point to another around the world. In Rainbow Six: Vegas, we actually have a full story behind the action.

I am not saying it is a fascinating story but at least it IS a story and it is integrated into the action in a way that makes you feel close to your teammates and creates a special bond between your character and the squad members you go into battle with. This brings something refreshing to the game and makes you care about your buddies as well as yourself. This will make you think twice before you command them to do something on the front line that will put their lives in danger. Well, that, and the fact that you’ll fail the mission if one of them dies ;)

The game starts with you, as a new team leader called Logan Keller, fast roping down from the MH-60K Night Hawk on your way to a mission in San Joshua del Mosquiera, a border town in Mexico. Your team is consisted of two other members: Gabriel Nowak and Kan Akahashi and your first task will be to regroup with them. The main mission for your team in Mexico is to capture and bring to justice a female terrorist – Irena Morales. Unfortunately for you, she leads you into a trap. You somehow manage to stay alive but your teammates are captured and no one knows whether they had the same luck as you did. You follow the leads, trying to find your comrades but you get an order to get to the nearest extraction point and leave Mexico at once as a high priority threat is posed in Las Vegas.

You arrive at Las Vegas and are teamed with your new comrades to form a the following team: Captain Logan Keller, team’s leader, Medic and recon expert. Michael Walter, Heavy weapons and demolition expert. Jung Park: IT Expert and Recon/Sniper Specialist. Irena takes Sin City and no one really knows what her agenda is. What we all know is she has to be stopped and guess who needs to do the dirty (yet fun) job…


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GAMEPLAY

When you’ll start playing the game, you will find it quite hard to distinguish between Rainbow Six: Vegas and any other generic first person shooter you played before. But within a few minutes of gameplay, you will see that it is not even close…


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I Am Dying, Let Me Save!

One difference that you will surely notice is the fact that you don’t have the “save” icon anywhere on the screen nor on the menu. That is because you cannot save whenever you want, your game will be saved only at pre-defined checkpoints, which makes the game much more challenging. Games that use this saving method take into consideration the fact that it might be quite frustrating after a while and Ubisoft makes a great work in making it challenging yet easy enough to handle. This means you will have to complete a level without dying and keep your teammates alive as well in order to proceed.

As the team’s medic, you will be able to patch and heal your comrades while fighting the enemy, which adds a lot of adrenaline to the action scenes. When knocked down, your teammates will have a time frame in which you will be able to help them and if you won’t make it, they will die and you will fail. Speaking of dying, as opposed to common shooters on the market, you will find it pretty hard to survive through the levels that Vegas will offer you. It takes about three direct shots (only one if it’s from close range) and you will get to see Logan on the floor, moaning and bleeding to death while your screen becomes red and a small message offering you to reload last checkpoint and try again.

On “realistic” difficulty level, things get even tougher and you will find yourself struggling just to make a few steps forward without taking shelter and manage your comrades wisely. It is really great and, well, realistic, to play this way, I recommend trying it out (patience, persistence and precision are key words here)… Those two features above are make the game pretty tough and hence, aimed at certain audiences. Ubisoft, whose intention is to sell games to as many people as possible, makes things easier then it sounds. There is no health bar on the screen and no medic kits for you to collect and heal. Instead, when you’ll get hit, your vision will get blurry for a short while and given you are in a safe spot and not getting more hits, your health will regenerate rapidly and you’ll be good to go in no time.


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Take Cover

As I mentioned, you’d better find a safe spot in order to heal and I might as well explain exactly what I meant. It seems that the concept of taking cover is becoming very popular in video games lately. We saw it being a key feature in many games such as Company of Heroes, GRAW and others. I think it is a great thing and adds a lot to the realism feeling of the game. In real life, you don’t just go out in the open and shoot at your enemies, you use the environment in order to take them out while taking minimal risk.

Clicking the right button of the mouse will make Logan lean against any wall / car / garbage can or anything else and use it to absorb some of the bullets the enemies shoot. You will also be able to take a peek and shoot at your enemies while under cover as well as blind firing to cover and support your teammates while sending them deep into the field.


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GAMEPLAY cont.

Brothers in Arms

As you probably understood, you are not alone and you might as well get used to it, as it will be pretty hard to survive without Michael and Jung at your side. You can collaborate with your teammates in several ways and this is really what makes the game interesting and fun. Command them to hold position, move to a certain location, regroup with you, climb a ladder, fast rope and so forth. Also, as a part of the tactical nature of the game, you can observe and learn a given situation, plan your actions and only then, give the order and execute. I will describe you a situation so you would understand what I am talking about more clearly.

Imagine you are in the fictional Calypso hotel in Vegas. Slot machines, roulette, flashy lights all over the place, fancy halls with beautiful decorations all around you and soft music is played in the background. You have a hostage situation and you have several ways to barge in the place where the terrorists hold the poor people. You can hear the conversation between the sides and some screaming and shouting as well. What do you do?

Thanks to some Splinter Cell maneuvers integrated into Vegas, you can order your team members to leap over the outer walls and hang on a rappel line. While you’re there, hang upside down, draw your gun and shoot some of them from outside the window. Then command your teammates to burst into the room, breaking the glass into pieces and clear the room in an elegant and full of action manner.

Another way would be using your snake cam to take a look behind the closed doors leading into the place. Evaluate the situation and prioritize your targets, then tag them for your teammates to attack. Stack your guys on one door while going around the corner to another door, creating some good crossfire for your enemies. Now, you can order your comrades to enter the room and:

  • Move into the place and just shoot the tagged enemies to clear the room.
  • Use a frag grenade to blow up the place (not effective with hostages around).
  • Blind the enemies for several seconds and eliminate them, using a Flashbang.
  • If enemies are close to the door, use breach explosives to blow up the door as well as anyone near it.

I already mentioned Splinter Cell, so another thing that you would recognize is the goggles which allow you to view the battle area in dark places and detecting enemies by heat vision.


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Smarter Enemies & Comrades

Enemies in Rainbow Six are very smart and will know where to take cover and how to spread around a place to achieve the most out of the terrain and nearby objects. As you go deeper into the game you will notice that your enemies are becoming smarter, deadlier and will work together to counter your moves, making it much harder to make progress and clear areas.

Your teammates are very smart as well. They will give you advice and suggest to you what to do in certain situations as well as criticize your actions when they think you could do things better. They are also smart enough to take cover themselves and will find the best place in order to carry out the command you just gave them while being protected as well as possible, given the environment parameters.


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The Weaponry

As for the weapons selection, you should not worry at all since there are many types and variations to choose from. You will be able to use weapons from the following groups:

  • Sub machine guns
  • Light machine guns
  • Assault rifles and pistols.
  • Sniper rifles
  • Shotguns
  • Grenades (smoke, frag etc.)
  • C4 and Breaching Explosives

Each group contains several weapons for you to choose from according to their abilities and properties. Since ammo is infinite, you should save your bullets and not waste them. Some weapons allow you to use different fire modes according to the situation and your needs. Fire modes are Single, Burst and Full mode. Also, you can use all sorts of attachments such as silencer to keep your secrecy, different rifle sights / scopes and so forth. Each attachment has its advantages and disadvantages. Some are more silent but weaker while others are powerful but will reveal your presence easily. As opposed to previous games of the series, you may exchange the weapons you currently holding with the one your enemy held just before you killed him.


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Multiplayer

After you saved Vegas from the terrorists’ siege and brought them all to justice, you might think you did it all. You didn’t even start actually. The multiplayer offers you hours and hours of fun and intense moments with or against other players online. To extend the playability of Vegas, Ubisoft supplies not less than 8 modes online for you to examine. Survival, Team Survival, Sharpshooter, Team Sharpshooter, Retrieval, Co-op Terrorist Hunt, as well as two new modes, Attack & Defend and Co-op Campaign. Co-op Campaign is an interesting addition in which you can go through the campaign with your friends online and the online version supports up to 4 players in a team (3 on single player).

You can co-op with your friends in what Ubisoft is calling Terrorist Hunt as well. Creating a character online is pretty cool and as you play you gain experience points after each match and advance in your rank. Vegas offers you 16 ranks to go through until, making multiplayer even more challenging and interesting. When you rise in rank, you will unlock some interesting equipment and weapons for you to use online. Don’t worry, those will extend your options and abilities, but in a manner that will not effect lower ranks to compete against you.


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Graphics & Sound

Rainbow Six: Vegas uses the Unreal engine 3.0 and hence, looks absolutely unforgettable in every possible way. All environments are looking very impressive, highly detailed, colorful and beautiful to the observer. Almost anything on the face of the battlefield is destructible and breakable, which adds a lot of tension and realism to the gameplay. Cars will sound their alarms and will be pierced by crossing bullets from everywhere, windows, signs and lights will all shatter and smash all over the place (too bad you can’t take damage from broken pieces of glass). Slot machines will break into parts, shooting sparks and smoke out of them while spilling coins all over the place. The atmosphere created by these effects is just remarkable and adds a bunch to the gaming experience. Las Vegas is a wonderful place to use for games of this type.

Characters animations are amazing to behold and they should be as they were all motion-captured by experienced Hollywood animation expert and really look spectacular. Sound is also amazing in the game and uses your sound system, if you have one, to the fullest. Voice acting is great, accurate and gets you into the mood. Frightened hostages and other key characters are voiced pretty well, making you feel their pain and distress. Your teammates and your enemies will shout their intentions and their status. That, along with the sound effects of bullets, explosions, blasts and so forth, create a great battle experience, which I haven’t met in too many games.

The background music is perfect in this. It is authentic and well suited to the environment you are currently exploring and is a perfect addition to the action scenes and the general atmosphere the game tries to bring to the player.


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Nothing is Perfect

Well, as you all probably know, nothing is perfect and there are always some problems you may encounter, although in this case, they are pretty scarce. One advantage that is also a disadvantage is the use of the Unreal Engine 3.0. It sure looks amazing, but it is very demanding and if you don’t have a powerful configuration, you won’t be able to enjoy it at all.

The saving system won’t let you go back to previous levels and replay them. Also, you can’t create a different profile for two players or more that want to play the game on the same machine. A few graphical bugs do exist but are rare and pretty negligible.


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CONCLUSION

Rainbow Six: Vegas is a game that has some history and gamers that loved the series may not like what it has become. It puts the focus on the action and is much faster than previous titles of the series. Having said that, if you install the game, keeping the above statement in mind, I am more than 100% positive you will enjoy every second of it. The game looks absolutely stunning, sound is like magic and it supplies huge amounts of pure, high quality action scenes. Even briefing is done in real time while you play, so the game won’t halt for anything. It’s all about pure action, and keeping it flowing.

While playing it, you will truly feel like a secret special agent with some cool maneuvers and gadgets inspired by Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell. Also, it is really trying to keep the rules of our world and you will die if you won’t think while you attack and command your teammates wisely. Environments are just perfectly designed and you can see much thought has been put into the little details, which makes it so polished and fun. Sounds amazing, isn’t it? Well, I promise you it is even more impressive than it sounds.

 

How Splinter Cell: Double Agent Scores

  • Graphics:   10
  • Sound:  9
  • GamePlay:  9
  • Pleasure:  9
  • Interface:  9

 

Final Score: 9 out of 10 and the Bjorn3D Golden Bear Award.

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