Ever been to the desert playground that is Las Vegas? Ever had to dodge rather swarthy Mexicans flicking and shoving prostitutes' calling cards right into your face? Ever been 'woo-hoo'-ed by a car full of Spring Break college jerks all named Brad? We certainly have, and, boy, did we wish we had a precision rifle and a grenade.
Enter: Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas, the latest in the line of top end shooters from Ubisoft. Set, as the name suggests, in the infamous Sin City itself, this squadbased sequel tools you up for a battle against terrorists hellbent on the usual mix of hostage-nicking, civilian-popping, mess-up-the-world-for-everyone antics.
At the time we revealed this brand new 'Six show for the first time back in XBW360/37, characters only totalled three. Now another's been tossed into the mix in the name of equal opps. The leader is Logan Keller, a recon genius; then there's Michael Walton, who likes to blow things up, Jung Park who snipes and hacks computers; and finally Joanna Torres - a girl. A real girl. The character bios of your four-fighter squad reveal the kind of hi-tech stealth-then-slay action you'd expect from a Rainbow Six offering.
The early flashes of genius here stem almost entirely from the inspired choice of setting. Vegas is pretty much the worst place on Earth for this elite band of troops to operate, which makes it the perfect test for spec ops capabilities.
For starters, Las Vegas is bright - in fact it's eye-meltingly bright. That means the usual cover of darkness won't enable our hardasses to flick the night vision switch and mow down their unsuspecting quarry. Only clever teamwork is going to save the day this time. Plus, Vegas isn't just an assault on your eyes - it's noisy too. You'll have to track foes against a constant cacophony of jingling slot machines that obscures the sounds of hostages and terrorists and makes communicating with your team tricky.
Even the layout of the huge casinos - warrens of hidden corridors, inaccessible exclusive suites and banks and banks of slot machines - will test your ability to plan and execute tense first-person missions. And to cap it off, the fact that you're in a busily peopled hedonistic metropolis is set to be a source of real tension. You can't wander in all-gunsblazing, but must protect civvies - even men like Brad and his meathead mates - while taking down a sophisticated and determined set of foreign enemies.
Right now it's sounding and looking fantastic, with the latest code beautiful in terms of visuals. We'll be keeping you bang up to date.
The reason games don't tend to be set in Morecambe is that dev teams aren't quite so keen to spend hours painstakingly researching the northwest coast hellhole when they could be in a luxury suite in Las Vegas. But all credit to Ubisoft's Montreal blaggers - Vegas could be the perfect, fiendishly testing backdrop for a spec ops dust-up. Real-time mission briefings, improved commands and brainy buddies suggest this one might just hit the 360 jackpot.