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Gaming preview: Ubisoft brings us back to Vegas

Our first look at Rainbow Six Vegas 2.

Ubisoft held the company's latest press event in New York this week, and we were lucky enough to get in some time with a few highly anticipated new games coming from the publisher this year. Yesterday, Will Greenwald told you about Far Cry 2, with its Crysis-like physics and effects. Today, we'll shed some light on Rainbow Six Vegas 2.

We're gonna need a new dealer Ubisoft

Just when we thought we had enough of Las Vegas (CES can do that to a man), Ubisoft throws us right back into the mix of things in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2. While the first Vegas had us running through casinos and garage lots at night, Vegas 2 takes place more during the daylight hours as you'll be seeing back alleys and the grittier side of the town. Rather than giving us an "add-on" to the first title, the team at Ubisoft Montreal has built a game worthy of being labeled as an official sequel. So rest assured, this is certainly not Rainbow Six Vegas: Out of Cash.

In terms of the plot, Vegas 2 will patch up things as the first Vegas kind of left us hanging at its conclusion. Vegas 2 will actually begin before the events of the first game and will eventually catch up and interweave with the current story line, ultimately ending after the events of Vegas 1. When Vegas 2 was announced, there was some talk about how it would have been nice to move away from the same atmosphere but not to worry, we have been told that this will be the last Rainbow Six game to take place in Sin City. I guess shooting up slot machines gets old after a while.

Improvements are all over the place; better visuals, more gadgets and weapons, and improved level design to complement co-op campaigns. Most noticeable from the gameplay we saw was the realism of your team as they now move with a lot more grace and finesse. They will duck and weave just as you'd expect them to, rather than occasionally leaving themselves open to fire as was the case sporadically in Vegas 1. The enemy AI in Vegas 2 has been tweaked as well, so don't just think you can "run and gun" your way through.

What most people took away from Vegas 1 was the online multiplayer. Ubisoft Montreal has incorporated all the things we loved from the first iteration and added even more maps, customization, and leveling up. Also, you'll now be able to carry over your upgrades to and from the single-player campaign. Rainbow Six Vegas 2 will release in March for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Next, we got a short glimpse of Tom Clancy's EndWar in action. First, we were treated to an opening cinematic that explained the story behind the game. It takes place in the uncomfortably near future where the end of oil has lead to a World War III situation. Most of the planet has separated into three factions, the U.S., a European coalition, and Russia. The three are now going at it, and it's your choice which sect you choose to align yourself with.