2006 Reviews

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas

  • Review Date: 2011-08
  • Release Date: 2006-11
  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • Rating: 7.5

I've been putting off playing Rainbox Six: Vegas for quite a while. These sorts of realistic tactical shooters just don't win me over. They all feature the same weapons - basically a machine gun. The enemies are all the same with similar health levels and drop with a headshot. The levels are always realistic real life settings. Still, Vegas somehow has an aggregate score of 84% of Game Rankings, slightly below what is arguably 2006's action game of the year Gears of War. The latter deserved that title, Vegas doesn't.

I can't say much about the gameplay beyond what I said above. There are various weapons in this game; all act and feel exactly the same. Sure you can put on a silencer or change the rate of fire. Sure you can use a shotgun instead. But the most effective is rapid fire with a sniper scope. You have several different versions of the same gun in this game. They're supposed to be completely different guns, they look different and have specific names. I'm not a gun expert but they just didn't feel any different at all. You'll also never run out of ammo as every single enemy drops almost full ammo.

The enemies, like above, are all exactly the same. As you progress some of them have slightly more armour, but it didn't make much difference to the difficulty. The first level plays exactly the same as the last level. That's not to say that there aren't any challenging situations in this game. The enemies have pretty decent AI and use cover a lot, as well as flanking you. They also take you down fast, so if you walk out into the open and have missed an enemy, you'll likely die.

There were a few frustrating sections in fact, made frustrating because of no quicksave. Most of the game was fine but there were 4-5 times where I had to replay from a checkpoint at least a few times, which was very annoying. One scene in particular where your team mate hacks a computer while a dozen enemies attack from both directions. It took me 4-5 attempts ON GOD MODE to complete. It's the only time I needed god mode, so the rest of the game is balanced well enough. There is a lack of any kind of end battle though. You beat the main antagonist with ease then expect a helicopter fight (how original) only for everything to suddenly end with "to be continued".

There were some unique features in the game that I really liked. The ability to 'snake cam' under doors to see what's on the other side, then assign your team mates to throw a grenade in while you attack from another entrance. This was effective and fun! As was when you're blinded by a smoke grenade and have to revert to infrared. Your team mates are adequate and useful at times clearing rooms out and usually not getting in the way.

The plot is simple and boring; hunt down the terrorists who have attacked Las Vegas and finish them off at the Nevada Dam before they launch a bomb. I don't know who I was playing as or anything about my team mates. Then at the end one of my team mates turns out to be the bad guy. I'm assuming he was a team mate because he had on the same military clothing, but beyond that it could have been any random character. Story scores a C at best.

Now Vegas should look good; it used Unreal Engine 3.0. The only other game in 2006 that uses Unreal Engine 3 was Gear of War, which looked MUCH better than Vegas. Tweaking the game to look better wasn't an option, apart from blurring, shadows and something about long range rendering which put the game to an unplayable crawl in large areas. For some reason, the textures look really bad, like they were only limited colour gifs. They were very grainy instead of smooth. Perhaps the lighting had something to do with this, as it was very dull and lacked contrast. At one point I was supposed to be in a pitch dark room, but it was still only 70% black. In hindsight perhaps turning the brightness down may have helped, but this was the default setting so why should I have to change it? The entire game, a bit like Gears of War, looks very muddy and desaturated. Almost like the lighting creates a dirty fog over everything. It certainly isn't crisp and clear like Crysis.

The levels also never acheived greatness. There were a few neat set peices such as looking out across Las Vegas on top of a casino tower, Dante's Casino which is still under construction and the Nevada Dam at the end. Some of the casino's look really cool and life like, but overall there's a lot of corridor-room-corridor-room. And with weak texturing and lighting, Vegas isn't a great looking game.

That's about how you can sum up Vegas; good but not great. In some ways it's replayable because everything is professional enough. It's clear it's not built by an indy studio on a budget with major bugs. But the gameplay is the same old Rainbox Six tactical shooter with no variety, an empty storyline and the levels don't look too different to your local casino; perhaps with a slight architectural upgrade.