What is it about us gamers that makes the Tom Clancy formula so appetising? Is it our innate desire to fire big guns? Our craving to hide in the dark? Our pining need to co-ordinate tactical attacks on terrorist organisations? Or simply our subconscious urge to save the world from the dastardly terrorists?
Short of a deep psychological probing of the gamers mind we’ll probably never know. What I do know is that another Tom Clancy game is heading your way, its full of guns, its crammed with gadgets and the terrorists have got more killer moves than Elvis and the famous Karate sodden gig of '67. The icing on the cake – it’s set in the city of sin: ladies and gentleman, welcome to Rainbow Six: Vegas!
I was lucky enough to be invited to an extended playtest of the upcoming Xbox 360 and PC game. I got a good feel for how it plays, how single and multiplayer will work as well as the exciting new feature of customising your own Special Forces agent with a picture of your face. Can that possibly work? Read on to find out.
Click to enlarge
Chuck Palahniuk once said “Las Vegas looks the way you'd imagine heaven must look at night”. Beauty, glitz and glamour are the most important features of anything Vegas and so it was the first thing I was looking out for when I walked into the presentation. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint. As you can see from all the screenshots the characters look stunning, unbelievably, this level of detail continues through to movement, with characters looking and feeling both fluid and alive whilst moving.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the locations. Don’t get me wrong, some of the environments will leave you breathless, especially when flying into levels via a chopper (in a similar vein to how some missions began in Advanced Warfighter). When looking down at Vegas you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching real life footage. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and with many of the missions I was shown at the demonstration we were plunged into the generic areas we know and hate from every FPS around. Walk through a door, bland room, walk through another door, bland corridor, and so on…
I’m probably being slightly harsh. The interiors are certainly on a par with any other game of a similar ilk on the 360 it’s just that they’ve been, well, done. Does Vegas have any tricks up its sleeve? Pleasingly, I can answer yes and those tricks come in a few forms...
Click to enlarge
In Rainbow Six Vegas you have some fairly cool abilities. First up is the use of the L-Trigger. A quick press of this whilst near anything that resembles cover will see your counter-terrorist duck behind it. From here you can either blind fire or just poke your head out to take shots at the enemy. It works well with the game, helping you move from one defensive area to another however, it does feel very similar to Gears of War. In fact it feels almost identical, so if you’re planning on only spending your money on one action game (on the 360) in the coming months I’d go with one or the other but certainly not both.
Finding cover isn’t the only neat ability. Ropes can be used to both scale and, most pleasingly, rappel down the sides of buildings. Many of the levels will include areas where you’re offered multiple ways to complete the mission. In one that I played I was able to scale down a wall silently, spot the enemy and then smash through a window before planting two rounds into the back of his cranium. What really gives this ability extra kudos is the realistic movements of the character when breaking and entering. You really feel like you require momentum to smash through the glass, that your player and the window are really there and that shattering experience is as thrilling as anything you've experienced in a game so far.
The other cool trick I noticed when playing was the effect grenades have, especially in multiplayer – more about that on the next page. There are a variety of grenades; the traditional bang bang frag grenades, flashbangs, smoke grenades and, my favourite, the tear gas grenades. The flashbang will leave you both deaf and blind in a very realistic manner whilst the tear gas lets off hazy green smog, which leaves you blinded by a cool blurred effect on your screen. Although I didn’t get a chance to experiment with all the gadgets in the game my assumption is that they will live up to the usual Tom Clancy high standards.