Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas review
Headshots and Flashbangs


Are you looking for a shooter that's more than just run and gun? Do you long for ultra realism? How about squeezing off a double tap into the brain of a terrorist while suspended upside-down from a rappelling rope? Do you get giddy at the hollow, suppressed thud of a well-silenced weapon? Maybe you like to give orders and death commands to well-trained assassins in the name of liberty? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, then Rainbow Six: Vegas for the PS3 will be perfect for you.

For those of you who have not picked up the game for your 360, or for those Sony fanboys out there that refuse to succumb to the evil empire, Rainbow Six: Vegas will have you begin the game playing as Logan Keller, squad leader of the clandestine Team Rainbow. Your goal is to thwart the best laid plans of one Irena Morales. Irena is the leader of a well-organized gang of smugglers based in San Joshua del Mosquiera, Mexico. You will first try and root her out south of the border, but will have to back pedal a bit and challenge her in the city of lights - no, not Paris - Vegas, baby, Vegas!

The story is interesting, but not fabulous. It is sufficiently well-devised, however; that you will find yourself eager to keep playing just to find out what happens next. This really helps the game produce a sense of accomplishment. Especially, because this is a very difficult game even when normal difficulty has been selected. If you're a masochist or just want to find out what urban warfare's really like, up the ante and go for the realistic setting. Don't peek your head around a corner though, because you're going to get it shot off.

To guard against such a horrible tragedy, Ubisoft Montreal has outfitted you with a host of weapons and armor, as well as fellow combatants that will obey your every command. The weapons you have to choose from are both lethal and realistic. They look like the real thing, they sound like the real thing, and heck, they even load like the real thing. My suggestion would be to play around with the weapons in the beginning of the game and find out which work best for you. You will be allowed to customize each weapon you carry in order to come up with perfect combo of lethality. My personal favorite armament selection is a silenced 552 Commando with laser scoping, accompanied by an MP5N submachine gun, flashbangs, and frag grenades. This combo is accurate, and allows me to fight in close quarters, at a distance, and in hostage situations.

You'll love your teammates and the control you have over them. They are not useless by any means. If you analyze each situation correctly and issue the proper orders, the bad guys don't have a chance. For example, say you come upon a room with two closed doors. Tell your boys to prepare for entry while you cruise to the flank and scope out the room. You'll then use your snake cam and see where the targets are. You can then set which targets have priority, and then have your boys chuck in a flashbang, take out the tangos, and secure the hostages in less than two seconds. By the way, did I mention this game is realistic? You will feel as if you are Logan Keller, leader of a covert government hit squad. The command controls are very easy to use. Depending on what you have told your squad members to prepare for, you will have a number of command options mapped to the D-pad. To expound upon the previous example, you can tell your boys to enter the room with guns blazing, with a flashbang to stun, or a frag grenade to clear out a hostage free room. This is a tactical, squad-based shooter that will have you scratching your head and laughing with joy. It is very easy to control and play, but difficult to master. You will find yourself dying frequently, and having to restart from the last checkpoint until you find a tactically sound solution.

If you think you can just move around like Schwarzenegger and miraculously come out unscathed while taking out 25 terrorists, you're sorely mistaken. If that's the kind of shooter you're looking for, then you will be frustrated. This game requires patience and calculated maneuvers. In order to help you remain stealthy, and keep your gray matter in tact, Ubisoft Montreal has developed a system for cover use that makes "Gears" jealous. It is an absolutely dynamite control scheme, and is the kind of thing that will be standard issue for all FPS games in the future. Like Gears of War, you will be able to use available cover by holding down on a button (the button varies depending on what button mapping you choose). You will then be taken to a 3rd person view. You can choose to fire blindly without any risk, but also without any accuracy, or you can set your virtual crosshairs on the tango, tap your analog stick, pop out from behind the wall, send the bullet flying toward your enemy's cranium, and hop back into cover all before the tango hits the floor. The execution is silky smooth and oh so lethal.

If you don't use cover appropriately, you're going to die…a lot! That's because the game is based heavily on realism. You can't just run out into the open and cross your fingers. Luckily for you, if you do get over-anxious and throw caution to the wind, with enough time you will regenerate your health. Your vision will blur and your movement will slow when you take fire, but you will be able to find cover and quickly heal as good as new. If you're unlucky enough to get hit squarely with a headshot then there is no coming back, and the screen will turn a bloody red, demarcating your untimely, yet well-deserved demise.

If you already own the game for your Xbox 360, do not buy this game. Don't expect a major overhaul because I don't think they overhauled anything. Well that's not true, but it is essentially the same game. There are 10 new multiplayer maps that aren't available for the 360 or the PC versions, there are also two new game modes. This makes multiplayer on the PS3 phenomenal, except for the fact that there are many more PC and 360 owners so that the level of competition and the sheer amount of players on the other systems, I feel, give them the edge. Another difference is the use of the snake cam. You will use motion controls in the Sixaxis controller to control the camera. This is not particularly substantive; it's really more of a gimmick. Having said all that, the PS3 version is the best version of the game because of the additional content. If enough PS3 owners buy the game and get online, then it truly will be the best iteration.

Continuing in that light, online play is a blast. There are an amazing amount of maps and match types from which to choose. There are three modes of play including the Playstation Network, split screen with friends, and a local area connection (LAN). You will be allowed to create your own online persona through P.E.C. or Persistent Elite Creation. This is a system of character creation, outfitting and award gathering. You will be able to create a unique character online, acquire XP points, military ranks, and will be able to unlock equipment. Outfitting your character allows you to customize a kit to your playing style. Choose between armament packages, body armor, and clothing styles. These are fantastic features that make this online shooter truly one-of-a-kind. This will definitely be one of your favorite games. In addition to the P.E.C. system, it is also worth mentioning the match types included. They are varied and well-thought out so you are sure to find a few match types that suit you the best. You can select between Attack and Defend where you control a strategic location and either try to wrest control from the defenders or protect it from an invading force. There is also Team Sharpshooter which just sees how many kills your team can rack up. Team Survival is just that, the team with the last man standing wins. Retrieval matches are a form of capture the flag. Survival matches pit all against all with no respawns allowed. Sharpshooter is also a free for all, but it allows respawns in order to see who is the most lethal. The Assassination match has an escorting team try and protect a high-value target while the other team tries to eliminate the asset. Finally, you can enter Total Conquest matches that have your team vying for control over three mobile radar installations. The team that is most dominant wins. These modes are all really fun, well-executed, and familiar to fans of the genre. You will also be able to play cooperatively through split screen in your own living room. This is a neat option because it allows you to beat the game with buddies, instead of relying on the A.I. squad of single-player mode.

I was a bit disappointed with the graphics of the game. I mean, it looks good; don't get me wrong. The use of the Unreal engine is good, but everything looks a pretty fuzzy, like an episode of Moonlighting. I swear I shot Cybil Sheppard several times. All joking aside, the game looks good, but not great. Compared to the level of realism found in the other aspects of the title, this is where they faltered and cut corners. If you were expecting incredible graphical advancements on the PS3, you will be disappointed. The graphics were left alone, and that was a mistake from the consumer's point of view. I can only hope the amount of money saved in porting the title was worth it.

The sounds in the game are absolutely outstanding. The guns sound real. The death screams are spot on, and the voiceover work is tremendous. Overheard conversations are hilarious. I speak Spanish, and the opening levels are filled with regional-specific comments that enhance the overall gameplay. It really makes you feel like you're battling it out with baddies in a rough and tumble Mexican border town. Some of the English comments made later in the game are also really funny and lively. However, I'll leave those unsaid and make you purchase the title. It's worth it.

The controls are flawless. The Sixaxis is a great controller, and it will take you no time to master the muscle memory. Whether you're simply shooting it out with the terrorists, or giving orders to your squad, the controls won't let you down. You will quickly advance through the levels if you are sufficiently cunning. You will have no control excuses to fall back on because they just work right.

In conclusion, this is a great game. It is the kind of game that the PS3 has needed. The addition of a bulked up multiplayer on the PS3 makes this the best version of the game you can buy. The controls and the sound effects are perfect. Unfortunately, the graphics are the weak link. Ubisoft didn't take the time to revamp the look for the high-powered PS3, and that was a mistake from the consumer's perspective. If you already own the game on the PC or the 360, this is not a must buy. This is due primarily to the non-revamped graphics. However, if you like shooters and using your noggin, this game cannot be passed up. It is genuinely a good game. It exudes quality and it will greatly increase the amount of hours you will log on your PS3.

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