Bring on the Commie Nazis
Okay, I’ve got one gripe I want to get out of the way before delving into the nitty and gritty of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2. Namely this—What the hell is the deal with fake terrorist groups in popular media? We all know who’s committing most of the terrorist attacks around the globe today, yet we’re all too wimpy to even mention the dreaded “I” word. So we get fraudulent villains in movies, books, and games comprised of ridiculous concoctions like the dreaded Mexicans of the R6: Vegas series. Considering that the Tom Clancy games are supposed to be all gritty and realistic, it’s more than a bit absurd to be taking on bad guys as credible as McBain’s Commie Nazis.
Ahem. That’s my issue, and I’m dealing with it. Sort of. Regardless, at least this gripe is the only serious one that I have with Vegas 2, a mostly fantastic follow-up to 2006’s surprise smash that moved tangos and tango-killers to the glitz of the Sin City strip. The new game is more of an extension of the original than any sort of true sequel, in that it looks and sounds almost exactly like its predecessor. But this is still some top quality more-of-the-same with newish locales and gameplay refinements that make life as an R6’er feel more authentic.
For the most part, anyhow. The plot remains as dimwitted as ever, due mainly to how that the story darts and dodges between events from the first game. You’re now playing a customizable R6 commander codenamed Bishop instead of plain-old squad leader Logan Keller, but the tale recounted in the five or six hours of campaign missions here is similar to that told in your original jaunt through Vegas. Most levels take place at the same time as those seen in the first game, with Bishop’s team taking on separate missions in other parts of the city.
Basically, this is a fill-in-the-blanks expedition that unveils more about the dastardly terrorist plot to destroy the world’s loosest slots. Gabriel Nowak, the traitor from the first game, is given greater prominence here. The first mission actually tells his backstory via flashback, detailing how his fall from grace got started during a five-year-old assignment gone wrong in the Pyrenees Mountains in France. From there, though, it’s Viva Las Vegas time, and you’re off to save the Mecca of Sleaze from terrorists who want to make it go boom.
It just doesn’t look like it at times. Where the first Vegas stuck mainly to the strip, with levels set in high-rise hotels and glam casinos, its follow-up largely takes place in more conventional R6 settings such as rundown warehouses, nondescript office buildings, carpark garages, and the like. Only the end feels somewhat Vegasy, and that’s solely because of the theater level’s casino and the desert surroundings of the last two levels where Bishop has his final showdown with Nowak. If not for those levels, Ubisoft just about could have called this one R6: Utica. There isn’t anything here that feels “iconic Las Vegas” like Dante’s Casino in the first Vegas. And it’s hard to really enjoy these last Vegas-like levels, too, because the difficulty soars. The rural Nevada industrial complex is stupid hard, with you left all alone against packs of enemies with little to no cover where it counts.
Expanded game design makes me sort of forgive the sins of the latter levels, though. Combat is even more intense than in the first Vegas, with added killing spree sections where you get to gun down hordes of thugs with the shotgun. And these moments are made even crazier by the newfound ability to sprint. This is a big help throughout the game, as I was more readily able to dash for cover when surprised by enemy fire. Sprinting was also much appreciated in killing sprees with the shotgun, since I could use it to race right up to enemies and blow them away.