5 Reviews

Rainbow Six: Vegas

Guns and fun in Sin City

Rainbow Six Vegas is all about steps. Some slow, some quick, but all must be learnt and understood if you're to survive the main story - and especially if you're going to manage to get past the first firefight in the near-suicidal run that is 'realistic' mode on the singleplayer campaign. But the first step is in understanding this is not a game about gung-ho behaviour. It is definitely not a game for the impatient.

The game style is in the same mould as Ghost Recon, with Ubisoft Montreal cutting another slice of strategic warfare, judiciously ladling in intense battles with the noticeable tang of a Hollywood blockbuster, while encasing all in the solid Observe, Plan and Assault system - a system that will govern your time in the original Sin City, Las Vegas.

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The second step is in learning the rules of engagement. Being immersed in the tactical shooter realism that has been the series hallmark since day one, means the learning curve entails dying. you will need to get used to shuffling off the mortal coil with regularity as you edge closer to the underlining principle of Rainbow Six which states that a single bullet can stand between you and success.

A 'normal' mode allows you a few mistakes before biting the proverbial bullet, but for the first few scenarios you'll be swearing at screen and controller as you snuff it and have to readjust your thinking.

Sounds like hard work? That's because, for a while at least, it is - as you learn the intricacies of the OPA. No matter how broad the strokes get as the threat level escalates, your response will always fall back on this central game mechanic.

Observing an area beforehand, planning exactly how your team is going to enter is the theory, while the assault is the practical, proving whether you were right with a lightning-quick takedown of terrorists, or wrong - resulting in a protracted firefight and withdrawal.

You'll learn, slowly, the flow and ebb of battle, when and where exactly you need to perform live-saving actions; usually through making a complete pig's mess of it the first time round. Miscue a weapon reload mid-firefight and you're easy prey. Mis-step a room entry and it'll lead to a grenade in your face. Misjudge orders to your teammates and they'll die and most probably you'll follow soon after.

All these things will happen within those first few hours and it'd take only a handful of times staring at the Game Over screen before newbies drop the game quicker than quarters into a slot machine.

But instead, take a breath, hit reload and prepare for that hard-earned next step. Because when you eventually do pull off that successful run through, it makes the previous hardship worthwhile. The intense difficulty curve may be off-putting, but it does make the buzz from stopping a live execution or reuniting a mother and child all the sweeter.

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It's in these moments that the grand scheme of Rainbow Six Vegas clicks into place; you start moving, acting and organising your plans of attack as if you were trained by the SAS. But it still doesn't stop you from dying; room layouts grow in complexity, as the game shifts from two-entry block rooms to a four-storey hotel lobby with escalators, stairwells, multiple rooms and terrorists on each floor. It's a logistical nightmare, but keeps your mind mostly diverted from a few uncomfortable truths.

Mostly. Because when you shift from reserved rookie to confident commander on the battlefield, you brain isn't dedicated to surviving and you start taking in the sights and sounds around you. It starts off well enough - the Unreal 3 Engine proving its worth in every neon sign and billboard, bringing the Las Vegas experience direct to your living room.

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