Since the console debut of Rainbow Six on the Dreamcast some seven years ago, both gamers and Tom Clancy fans alike have been able to immerse themselves in the “realistic” world of tactical counterterrorism. Yes, with the likes of Ding Chavez and his merry band responding to your controller inputs with all the grace and speed of a professional luge team, the terrorists never stood a chance. Most consoles since then have earned themselves at least one Rainbow Six title, and now, with the onset of the latest console war, Ubisoft is bringing the team west to take down those who think they can ruin the already seedy cesspool that is Las Vegas! In a game where one bullet can mean the end of your campaign, it becomes all the more poetic when said campaign is taking place in a town where dreams are both made and destroyed with a simple roll of the dice.
All of the fine gameplay and tactics has survived and is in full force for the PS3 version of Vegas. The difficulty settings are even adjustable this time around, so for those who may have been put off in the past by the one-shot-one-kill gameplay methodology of previous titles can now make the choice for themselves. The whole package on the PS3 is a visual and aural delight for shooter fans, and the extra content that players on other consoles have to pay for comes bundled on the disc for free. Not a bad deal at all!
Ding Chavez takes a back seat to Logan Keller this time out, heading to Vegas as a direct result of a counterterrorism operation that went bad in Mexico. How the failed Mexican operation leads to a Vegas one is never really made clear, and when you get to the end of the game you will be left a bit unsatisfied in terms of the story’s resolution. Most players, however, will forgive this aspect after playing through the hours and hours of fun that lead to the title’s weak ending.
The development team may have taken a page from the book called “Gears of War,” as Logan’s control scheme is remarkably similar to that breakaway title. Much like Gears, players are able to make use of walls and other objects as cover or a barricade to the lethal madness unfolding toward you. The game mechanic works in a way as if the “cornering” of the recent Metal Gear games were mixed with the “covering” of Gears. Players can fire from around doorway corners or from behind a parked car or small dividing wall. It also possible to climb up onto windowsills and crash through windows to take shortcuts, but sometimes the shortcut will lead you directly into an ambush... the price of being impetuous is high.
Your main character is usually accompanied by two teammates on most sorties. The kind of squad based command present in Rainbow Six Vegas is a simple but effective one, and the team members usually know what to do or where to go on their own. The artificial intelligence in the title is pretty solid, and the team member blunders are few and far between. That is not to say they will never be put down, and they certainly will be, but they never seem to commit to any course of action that is odd or haphazard, like in some other titles of this genre. As your leader, you simply point your reticule at a spot on the floor and press X to make them head toward that spot. The locations are context sensitive as well, so depending on where you place them you will generate a different formation or action. They will also team up with you and follow if you press down on the D-Pad. This is quite a handy feature when you are approaching a location with multiple points of access. You can peep around corners while you send your squad mates in to clean up the slime inside!
The sixaxis motion sensors are in use here, and this seems to be the most frivolous and downright annoying feature in the game. Should you want to snake a wire cam underneath a door to scope out the occupants of a room, you are forced to use the motion sensors to manipulate the camera. This results in a frustrating experience that is far more complicated than it needed to be. In general, it seems that the sixaxis controller feels a little looser and less pinpoint than the Xbox 360’s pad, but those who have never played the version for Microsoft’s box will never notice, obviously.
Graphically, the game is beautiful to look at, but for some reason the graphics seem to be a bit more muted than its Xbox 360 counterpart. Certain scenes seem a bit duller in color, and the character models seem a bit less detailed. There are problems with pop-in in several places, and the whole game seems a little less “hi-res” overall. The 360 version displays no such issues when played in HD. These issues really seem unimportant, however, when meandering through the noisy casinos contained within the title, and a player is certainly not going to be thinking of these things when bells are ringing, lights are flashing and assault weapons are tearing up everything in sight. In the game’s defense, the frame rate is buttery smooth without even a suggestion of slowdown. This is even more impressive when playing online, as the game’s network code is so finely tuned that it feels almost as smooth as the single-player experience.
The audio in the game is mostly excellent, overall. The voice acting and sound effects are really convincing, except during the occasional audio glitch. It does seem that at times the wrong sound effect will fire when an event occurs, such as firing a weapon or lobbing a grenade. It sticks out in your mind for a brief moment and then passes when the correct sound effect occurs the very next time the same event is triggered… a very strange glitch, indeed. Your squad mates shouting and crying are all very convincing and realistic, and the “over-the-top” bravado of the terrorists will bring a smile to your face right before you fill them with hot lead.
The multiplayer is very robust, and as mentioned above contains the entire bonus content that Xbox 360 users used to have to pay extra for. There are 20 maps overall plus the ability to play the single-player campaign cooperatively. Sometimes the lobby system can be a bit janky and the searching feature cries for something more detailed, but these little details are nitpicky.
The PS3 version of Rainbow Six is a must-play for all shooter fans who own the console. The enthralling tactical shooter gameplay and adjustable difficulty make it an experience that can be enjoyed by all. Do not bet on black; do not bet on red... take sixty dollars of your hard earned cash and place it on the rainbow. To win. It’s a sure thing.