The Rainbow Six series has traditionally blended tactical realism with action extremely well, but some of the more recent games in the series have tarnished the franchise's reputation. Thankfully, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas is a welcome return to form -- one that completely reinvigorates the series for old and new fans alike.
Rainbow Six Vegas kicks off by dropping you in an abandoned Mexican city in an attempt to capture the terrorist leader Irena. Irena leads your squad into a trap in an abandoned mine and captures your team. After your escape, you are whisked off to Las Vegas to deal with a newly arisen infestation of terrorists that have somehow taken over the city.
Rainbow Six Vegas introduces a variety of new game mechanics into the series such as the ability to abseil down the side of a building before kicking in glass windows to gain entry into rooms. The most useful introduction to Rainbow Six Vegas, however, is the ability to duck behind cover wherever it can be sought -- a very similar mechanic to Gears of War. From behind cover, you can then either take well aimed shots at your enemy or stick your gun over the edge and lay down suppressive fire. The addition of these new mechanics makes the game feels much more genuine, as it helps to build the feeling that you really are a commando fighting terrorists through a casino.
A tactical action game is nothing without decent artificial intelligence, and the non-playable characters in Rainbow Six Vegas sport decent tactics. The enemy will pin you down with heavy suppressive fire, try to flank you and your team, and even throw flash bang grenades to blind you before rushing your position. Your two team mates aren't stupid either as they will actively seek cover, clear rooms and swap weapons as appropriate to the situation at hand.
Graphically, Rainbow Six Vegas looks amazing. Before the start of each mission you ride in a helicopter where you are given your objectives and choose your weapons, and it's hard not to be distracted by the bright lights and beautifully rendered casinos of Las Vegas.
The sound effects in Rainbow Six Vegas are superb. Hook this game up to a surround sound system and you'll hear the sound of gunfire blasting off behind you and bullets buzzing past your head. Sometimes it's hard not to feel intimidated by the whole experience. The music is more of a mixed bag. Whilst in Mexico, there is an accompanying soundtrack of mariachi-style music which helps to convey the vibe of the situation. The accompanying soundtrack in the Las Vegas portion of the game is somewhat lacking, containing a generic action orientated orchestral score. This is somewhat disappointing, as it would have been nice to hear Viva Las Vegas whilst cleaning out city.
Multiplayer in Rainbow Six Vegas is just as fun and fast paced as the single player campaign. It supports a suite of modes via Xbox Live including death match, team death match, capture the flag and terrorist hunt (which can hold up to 16 players). Cooperative play is also supported both over Xbox Live and through the a single console, which is great fun as you can make your way through the stunning single player game with the help of a friend.
What separates Rainbow Six Vegas's online multiplayer from the rest is the ability to create and customise your own character. As you progress and gain ranks online, you unlock more clothing and gear for your character to use such as camouflaged pants or a better machine gun. Rainbow Six Vegas also supports face mapping via the Xbox Live Vision camera, which creates a unique yet creepy version of yourself in the game. Seeing a character that vaguely resembles yourself duke it out online is somewhat eerie, but when you become accustomed to it, it's cool to see yourself kicking through windows and blasting terrorists into oblivion.
Rainbow Six Vegas is a great game that progresses the Rainbow Six series beyond any of its predecessors. This should definitely not be missed.