Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (PC, X360, PS3) (2008)
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Review by Faididi and Co.
It's supposed to be about casinos, not warehouses and oil refineries
Ubisoft Montreal's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 is an unusual sequel, starting with its story. The plot covers the events before, during, and after Logan Keller's adventures in the original Rainbow Six: Vegas, and the hero this time is a Player-created character who's codenamed Bishop. The story gets an extra point for trying such a different perspective, although it fails to address all the loose ends remaining from the previous game, and the ultimate villain's motives and means really, really stretch belief.
Gameplay: Above Average
Vegas 2 is a tactical FPS that looks a lot like the first installment, except its hero is now made by you. The Players' characters fill the role of Bishop in the story mode, using a generic male or female voice, and they serve as silent agents in the other modes, which include the exhibition-like terrorist hunt and the versus stuff. Your character's equipment and appearance are conveniently carried over across the different modes, and more weapons and sets of armor become available for use as you play. This setup is similar to those found in games such as K2's Tenchu Senran (Tenchu Z), and it's a fantastic way to boost the personal involvement of the Players.
Unfortunately, the rest of the gameplay sees little improvement, and it even falls backward in some regards. While the terrorist hunt and the versus modes still support 4 and 8 Players respectively, the story mode drops down to having 2 Players at most. That's due to Bishop's pair of computer-controlled allies (Jung and Michael) always remaining in play now, occupying the slots that would've been given to the third and fourth Players. The level design continues the highly linear approach found in the first Vegas but feels far less attractive here, because it skips many of the glitzy casino settings that have given Logan's story such a fresh feel. Instead, Vegas 2 sends Bishop through mostly ho-hum warehouses and refineries that could be found in any other FPS set at major urban areas, and a quarter of the missions don't even take place in Las Vegas proper.
The controls are as intuitive and responsive as before. The third person cover-taking system remains unchanged, but this sequel adds a sprinting maneuver that allows for a bit more mobility. The character customization options are very Player-friendly, letting you change your hero's gender, appearance, and equipment freely. The choices of armor are also interesting, letting you balance protection against sprinting speed.
Not counting the fewer casino environments, the visuals are pretty much the same. They may not be the fanciest out there, but they do the job with their decently rendered characters and environments.
Perhaps the least impressive part is the music, which often consists of short, cheap-sounding loops. Luckily, the gunfire and the other sound effects still blast out forcefully, and the dialogue for the bad guys includes a surprising amount of humor, especially during the mission at the convention center.
Overall: Above Average
Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 is the tactical FPS that finally lets Players create and play as their own Rainbow operatives. This sequel may remove a lot of the casino scenery that has given the preceding game its distinctive look, begging one to ask why it still bothers with the famous city in its name. However, its custom-character system offers many cool options, and it certainly helps the game involve you and your friends in ways that few other FPSs can match.