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Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas

Tom Clancy

From the moment I started playing through it, Rainbow Six: Vegas made me its bitch. I consider myself a connoisseur of first-person shooters. I’ve played loads of them, but I’ve never really done tactical shooters and because of this inexperience, Rainbow Six: Vegas made me work to succeed. If I made any mistakes, the game capitalized by sending me to a game over screen almost instantly. And yet, I kept reloading the last checkpoint, chugging along at a snails’ pace, grudgingly replaying areas over and over again until I accomplished my objectives and was able to move on. Rainbow Six: Vegas and I had a battle that extended beyond the game. It was a battle with my patience and my determination. It was a battle that I’m glad I fought because beyond the steep learning curve is an incredible game.

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“From the moment I started playing through it, Rainbow Six: Vegas made me its bitch.”After spending years playing FPS games, I was a little sad when I died during the tutorial level. Things didn’t bode well for me, but I reconsidered my tactics after my second death and realized that I was approaching the game all wrong. I couldn’t fight like I fought in traditional FPS games. I needed to use cover, go slow, and take careful, deliberate shots at foes from as far away as possible.

It was the cover system that helped me love Rainbow Six: Vegas. As I crouched through the dusty streets of Mexico that serve as the opening level of the game, I noticed some terrorists down the street. I ran up to a nearly destroyed car and pressed my right mouse button. The camera swooped out from the skull of my character as he pressed his back against the car. I was now looking in third-person, down the street, allowing me to see my enemies safely from behind cover. If I leaned out from behind the car or stood up, I was brought back into first-person, allowing me to aim for the skulls of my foes while still partially covered. I was quickly able to eliminate the enemies down the street while taking minimal damage.

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While the old Rainbow games focused on tactics, the emphasis of Rainbow Six: Vegas is on firefights from behind cover. As the game progresses, the battles become even more intense as the locations expand, cover becomes more limited, and the amount of enemies increases. Enemies are constantly shuffling around, using an excellent AI system to move to more advantageous positions. Battles often forced me to go against dozens of well-armed enemies. Fortunately, I was rarely alone thanks to two AI teammates that I battled alongside for the entire game. While most games feature the most incompetent teammates imaginable, Rainbow Six: Vegas afforded my comrades with excellent AI. If I wasn’t killing my enemies, they were. I could actually trust them to cover me. Issuing them commands was incredibly simple and I didn’t have to mess around with complicated keystrokes or menus.

FirefightsRainbow Six: Vegas is defined by firefights. While fans of the previous games may find this irritating, I thought this was a remarkably smart move that opens up the franchise to a whole new group of players.Rainbow Six: Vegas is defined by firefights. Every room is a struggle. While this could get stale if the confrontations sucked, there simply wasn’t a battle that I didn’t enjoy. That isn’t to say that I didn’t die repeatedly, but every scene was memorable for some reason. The opening battle in the city of Las Vegas was absolutely incredible. Cars were overturned and burning in the streets. Terrorists were hiding behind anything that they could use as cover. I had to move quickly and efficiently, using cover, but constantly staying a step ahead of my enemies who were constantly trying to flank me and my soldiers. My teammates and I worked our way up the destroyed Vegas Strip, taking out any terrorist that presented himself to us with deadly headshots.

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Rainbow Six: Vegas is defined by firefights. Every room is a struggle.”This isn’t to say that Rainbow Six: Vegas isn’t without fault. It isn’t perfect. The checkpoint save game system is designed to force players to make responsible decisions, but the checkpoints are often spaced very far apart and forced me to replay unnecessary portions before I could get to the battle that killed me. And while I was able to heal my teammates if they fell in battle, if I died, they couldn’t heal me. It was game over. I don’t really understand why they couldn’t heal me, but I imagine it’s along the lines of making responsible decisions. A real counter-terrorist only has one shot, so I suppose the developers wanted me to feel that urgency. But I easily forgot these faults as I triggered the checkpoint and began the next tense firefight.

It would have been incredibly easy for me to stop playing Rainbow Six: Vegas. I could have uninstalled it and never bothered with it again. But I’m glad I didn’t. Rainbow Six Vegas has landed itself in the rare category of one of the best games that I’ve ever played. The final level of the game is essentially a massive firefight through the Hoover Dam and it was arguably one of the best experiences I’ve had in video gaming. While it isn’t without faults, Rainbow Six Vegas is a finely tuned shooter and I cannot wait for the next game in the series.

10 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

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