Seventh Game Beaten of ’09: Rainbow Six: Vegas

I’m not going to lie. I have not been a fan of the Tom Clancy line of video games. I’ve played my fair share of them but I have never felt the need or desire to finish one out. The closest I had ever come to finishing one before was the original Ghost Recon on the PC. I made it through about eight mission in that game before hitting a brick wall. It basically comes down to my desire to feel like a super-hero badass that absorbs bullets like The Terminator as opposed to well… a regular soldier.

When I got my XBOX 360, Gears of War was launching and that was my obvious first choice of game but I have this compulsion to always have more of things, so I began looking for other “good” games and stumbled across Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas. By all accounts it seemed like Vegas was more of a game than previous entries into the series, what with the regenerating health and all, so I decided to give it a shot and well let’s just say that I got through the first two levels and hit a wall on the third level and quickly determined that Vegas, while drastically improved over previous entries (at least for my type of gaming) it was still to heavily reliant on some of the standard Rainbow Six (and general Tom Clancy series of games) conventions and in turn just not for me.

So how does that bring us to 2009? Well some friends of mine began playing Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (some of my friends are a little slow the gaming party) and had been pestering me to pick up the title to play with them. I casually explained that I didn’t much enjoy the original Vegas and based on the reviews Vegas 2 didn’t seem to be any different. Somehow they convinced me to give the original title another shot and well here we are now.

Have you ever been so frustrated with a game that you just shut it off instead of trying to push through the trouble spot and when you come back to that spot a day or two later you easily beat it? Well let’s just say that I put the game down for two years and when I returned I found it much easier. So how does the title hold up two years later?

To be short, quite good although still not exactly in my wheelhouse.

Surprisingly even after over two years on the market, the game still looks quite good. The environment are all quite nicely detailed and the character models fit perfectly into the game world. The action effects are all nicely handled and firefights look spectacular. There are some graphical glitches though, vehicles look quite a bit like blocks and character faces are unrealistic, looking like wax statues that have come to life. All in all the graphics are nothing to sneeze at and they’ve held up quite well over time.

What holds up better though is the gunplay. If Tom Clancy games can be credited with anything it is authenticity to tactics. If you outfit your character with a sniper rifle, you aren’t going to work your way through a train yard with your team the same way as if you have an assault rifle or a shotgun. The game forces you to think out your tactics beforehand because generally the game will punish you for playing it like a standard first person shooter. That’s not to say that the game is not accessible to FPS players, there is just a small learning curve that players will have to go through to learn how to best utilize their team. Once you get past that that the game will generally feel at home to first person shooter fans.

The story itself is quite engaging. A terrorist takes over Vegas and you have a personal stake in taking her down because your previous team was captured by her. It certainly is not anything to write home about but it is enough to continuously push the game forward without seeming like just a bunch of random levels strewn together. The game does have a rough ending though, setting it up for Vegas 2 quite cheaply with no real conclusion to the story. If anything I would probably play Vegas  just to see what happens next.

My biggest problem with the game stems from the trial and error nature of the game. It is something that dates back to the earliest Tom Clancy games and has infected each one I’ve played. Despite giving you a multitude of options to approach a situation, in these games there is generally only one way to actually succeed. Rainbow Six: Vegas does this a bit better (by being a bit more forgiving) than some older Tom Clancy games but it is still there and it still annoys me.

Gamers who enjoy a more realistic approach to shooters will probably find a lot to like here. For me personally it’s not my cup of tea but I probably will give Vegas 2 a try at some point, providing I can find it cheap.

3 out of 5

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