Guest Author - James Shea
A more action-oriented take on the classic Rainbow Six series, Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is a decent game in its own right, but will be a disappointment to fans of the classic series.
Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is a tactical first-person shooter that theoretically uses intelligent choices and SWAT-style maneuvers in its gameplay. It's derived from the original Rainbow Six series, wherein the player would command one member of a team of up to 6 or so officers, who could be split into teams and given specific orders as labeled on a tactical map. Vegas is a simplification of that; the game is more about being a shooter than being "tactical", and you only have two teammates, who are given orders at the same time. It's clear that the game's been simplified for consoles, and is really more of an action game than any sort of strategic game.
The first-person shooter interface works decently; the character handles well, but also sort of slowly, like you'd expect a real person to. The main focus of the game is the Cover System; by holding the right mouse button near a wall, your character presses against that wall, and can either fire blindly out without exposing him/herself or can "pop out" to shoot more accurately. The system works fairly well and naturally, and is fairly decent for a cover shooter especially because of the game's harsh health system. There is some "auto-healing" if you are hit but get to cover, but generally 2 or 3 bullets will put you out of commission. Therefore, there's plenty of incentive to use cover.
The main problem with the game is that it feels very "dumbed down". As mentioned, the game is a shooter first and tactical second. In addition, the reduction in cooperative modes hits hard; the single-player campaign has been reduced from 4 to 2 players, and the only 4-player mode available is the simple Terrorist Hunt (basically "kill all enemies"). The guns don't handle particularly impressively and the unlockable costume parts for your character - earned through gaining levels by killing enemies - don't look particularly good. Essentially, despite the huge level cap (besides the basic experience category, there are 3 sub-categories of experience with different unlockables that are earned by doing specific actions) the game runs out of steam early on, as if to say "this is basically all there is". Basically, there's just not that much fun to be had unless you like doing terrorist hunts over and over and over again to grind for levels.
The graphics are good, but not incredible, and aren't enough to redeem the game by itself. The maps are boring and ugly, and are generally uninspired as a whole. As mentioned, the guns and unlockable costume parts aren't particularly great. As a total experience, Vegas 2 is a mediocre game made worse by its connection to a once-great franchise.