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| Review: Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas (PC & Xbox 360) (6 comments )|
by: xens (11) | Posted in cluster FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round 1 Prelim 2
Posted 76 months ago ( edited 76 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
Rainbow Six was one of the first Tom Clancy games and arrived on PC in 1998 from Red Storm Entertainment. The game pioneered the way for other Tom Clancy games in later years and firmly established the Tom Clancy name in many playersí minds. As the series grew, however, it was ported onto many different game consoles. As a result, development started to focus more on consoles and less on PCs. After much criticism of the fourth iteration of the series Rainbow Six: Lockdown, Ubisoft came back a year later with Rainbow Six: Vegas, hoping to redeem themselves and revigorate the franchise. Did they succeed? Letís find out.
Iíll admit it. I havenít been a big Rainbow Six fan. Itís not so much because the series is bad, but mostly because I had never heard anything interesting about it that made me want to pick up a copy and play. That all changed when I played Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory by chance, and loved it. Ever since then Iíve become interested in every Tom Clancy game, and since there was so much hype around Rainbow Six: Vegas, I had to try it out for myself. Just for curiosityís sake I purchased both the PC version and the Xbox 360 version, and I will attempt to compare them at the end of the review.
This newest installment of the series takes place in the city of Las Vegas, after the teamís operation in Mexico to capture terrorist Irena Morales went wrong and two of the teammates were captured. The same group of terrorists was also suspected for initiating a series of bombings in Las Vegas recently, and the Rainbow team has been dispatched to take care of the situation. Players take on the role of Logan Keller, the head of the assault team. The storyline seems to be standard for any action games, with you being the good guy trying to stop the bad guys from blowing everything up. There was hardly anything story-wise in the game that was able to get me interested or surprised.
Despite the typical and somewhat boring plot of the game, the actual gameplay is quite solid and presents an engaging experience. One of the first things that you will notice is this isnít your typical first-person shooter, instead the developers of Rainbow Six: Vegas utilized a similar covering system as the one found in Gears of War. This covering system lets you walk up to any solid object in the game, press the cover key and immediately take cover behind the object, while the camera slips smoothly into a third-person view with a clear shot of your character. In this covered mode you can press any directional keys and stick your head out that direction to fired aim shots at your enemy, but have most of your body covered at the same time, or you can press the firing key and fire off some blind shots. When firing blind shots your accuracy will be significantly reduced, but it is a good way to keep enemies from getting any closer if you have been seriously injured.
This cover system in Rainbow Six: Vega, however, does not work as well as the one in Gears of War - a game that I sincerely hope will one day come to PC being re-developed to be more complex, and take advantage of the keyboard and mouse, but also optimized so that it stays a polished experience. The most significant difference between the cover systems between these two games is in Gears of War, you can press the cover key once and slip into cover, if you want to get out of cover, just press the same key again. Itís a very intuitive experience. Where as in Rainbow Six: Vegas, you have to hold down the cover key to stay in cover, and it easily becomes tiring after playing for a while, and because the cover key is set in default as your right mouse button, it also effects the accuracy of your shots as you try to aim while applying pressure on the mouse to keep yourself in cover. I had to switch around a few buttons to change my cover key to the keyboard so itís more bearable.
Your two other teammates also play a significant role in terms of gameplay, you can order them to work together with you to take care of terrorists or provide cover for you, or even heal each other when one of them is down. These guys can either be in infiltrate mode or assault mode, in infiltrate mode they would attack only if they were attacked upon first, but in assault mode they will clear out enemies at their own will. You can also order your teammates to stack up behind a door and clear out the room using different methods of approach depending on the attack mode they were set on. One of my favorite things to do was to put a snake cam underneath one of the doors into the room full of terrorists, and order my teammates to throw a grenade into the room and then clear, itís very satisfying to see the enemies getting blown into the air, and land somewhere in the room twenty feet away.
The teammates do a very good job of taking out enemies, so good, in fact, that it somewhat becomes a hindrance to the overall gameplay. Coupled with the awkward controls and no briefing at the beginning of each level, it is a very frustrating experience to try and take out the enemies when you first enter an area filled with them. I am definitely a fan of challenging games, but this aspect of the game is more annoying than challenging. The problem is that itís difficult to locate where the enemies are, and since it is so easy to send your teammates out to assess the situation, it soon became a standard procedure to avoid irritation. This reduces the fun factor of the gameplay and adds more tediousness. A possible solution would be to add briefing at the beginning of each level, and make character movements more agile so that itís easier to respond to attacks.
The developers, however, did a very good job with the sense of realism in the way your character takes damage. In normal mode, things are a bit more relaxed. If you take a few hits it isnít going to bring you down, but your vision will be blurred and if you are near death, the images will darken thus making it very hard to see anything around you. But if you turn the difficulty setting up to ďrealisticĒ, the damage you can take before dying is significantly reduced. In realistic mode you are forced to think in terms of real-life battle tactics, since you would want to avoid taking any hits. This damage system would have worked much better if it could be complimented with better controls. Overall the gameplay was engaging and entertaining enough, but due to cross-platform development, some things that could have been better done on the PC were neglected. If the developers could be bothered to implement improvements for PC gamers, it would make the gameplay not only good, but outstanding.
Many players have criticized the game for performing poorly while not providing any worthwhile visuals. I have to disagree with that notion, because although the game doesnít perform as well as it should, the visuals are stunningly beautiful. There are some low-resolution textures throughout the game, but the lighting effects are simply fantastic, and create very realistic looking environments. The Rainbow guys also had very detailed character models, their movement animations were very fluid and the suits and gears they wore appeared authentic. The team did a fantastic job using the Unreal Engine 3. The art direction of the game was also very good in the sense that it successfully recreates the glittering casinos of Las Vegas. From the very beginning in Mexico all the way to the end, the graphics continuously immersed me in the game. There were many occasions where I felt like I was actually inside one of these casinos. The downside to all these pretty looking visuals is the poor optimization for PC configurations. Framerate would shoot up to 60 FPS in some areas but drop to below 10 in others, with no real graphical differences to indicate why it might happen. This is also the result of cross-platform development where itís blatantly obvious that the developers took the Xbox 360 version as priority and did not polish the game enough for the PC market. This performance issue, however, does not mean that the game is unplayable; it just means that you might have to turn down your resolution a bit and deal with some slowdowns here and there, the beautiful graphics provided, however, were good enough that the performance of the game did not bother me too much.
Along the excellent graphics were fantastic sound effects that worked just as well, if not better than the visuals to immerse you in the world of the game. The sounds of the guns firing, explosions, yells from terrorist to locate and kill you, orders given by you to your teammates, the slot machines inside the casinos and even the footsteps sounded very realistic, especially if you have a good set of speakers. I think we have already reached a peak of state-of-the-art sound recreations in games. The only improvement that can be made to further enhance the realism of this aspect would be to improve the speakers.
The PC and Xbox 360 versions share everything and there isnít much difference between them, except for the control schemes where you use a controller on the Xbox, and the trusty keyboard & mouse for PC. As I have pointed out multiple times in my review, the cross-platform development focused primarily on the Xbox 360. Once you have played the game on an Xbox 360, you would come to realize why character movements is not as responsive as can be, and why you can only give your team three commands in each attack mode. That is not to say, however, that the controls work better with a controller. In fact, I found it much more enjoyable to aim with my mouse, although I had already honed my controller aiming skills when I played through Gears of War. The main reason for that is because Gears of War is less of a shooter, and more of an action game than Rainbow Six: Vegas. In Gears of War, victory does not necessarily depend on your aiming, but a combination of moves and timely executions, but in Rainbow Six: Vegas, getting the headshot can mean life or death. I did not find that there were any significant performance differences (provided that you have an above-average gaming PC), because I took into account the fact that I was running the game at a much higher resolution on my PC than the native 720p on Xbox 360. While the Xbox was an overall smooth experience, there were also some seriously slowdowns during intense fights where there would be a lot of explosions. All in all, the performance of the game between two versions isnít dramatically different.
The multiplayer, however, worked better on the Xbox due to Xbox Live. Players could plug in their earpiece with microphone and talk to other teammates in real time, set up realistic strategies and keep communicating with one another to better achieve victory. The multiplayer on the PC version is limited to 16 players only, thus does not explore the full potential of the PC gaming platform. The servers themselves were also a bit unstable, but the good news is that there will be no graphical performance issues in multiplayer, because the developers have reduced the textures and certain effects to keep framerates up. Overall the Xbox version provides a more complete online experience but the PC version is still very enjoyable.
Although Rainbow Six: Vegas wasnít exactly the game many hardcore PC gamers had hoped for, and the effects of cross-platform development does show in multiple places, it is still a very solid shooting game that provides amazing visuals, realistic sounds and fairly fun gameplay. I give the game a 7.5 for PCs, mostly because the game has potentials that werenít explored, and 8.0 for the Xbox 360 version. I will say this however: If you have a less than average PC but an Xbox 360 on your shelf, get the latter because it will provide a better experience overall. If you have a fairly powerful gaming rig, pick up the PC version, you wonít be disappointed. Widescreen is not natively supported but a patch can be found on the web to fix that. The game is definitely worth picking up, although not at the full retail prices. Wait a while until the prices drop, then pick up a copy and it will definitely be a worthwhile purchase that deserves a place among your other Tom Clancy collections. In the mean time, I continue to hope developers will realize PC is still the most sophisticated gaming platform, and bears the most potential. It is also a fact that some genres provide such a better experience on PC, such as FPS, RTS, and any serious online games. Most gamers would want to play on their PC if given a choice. Hopefully as we move into the Vista generation with their ďGames For WindowsĒ campaign, more and more studios will come up and start concentrating on the PC market again. Until then, lock-and-load soldiers! We got some terrorists to kill!
|6 User Comment(s) • 3 root comment(s)|
| Yoda_Blues (263) Feb 21, 2007 - 01:12 pm | Edited on Feb 21, 2007 - 01:12 pm|
|Yeah, you need to watch the run-on sentences. Also, your grammar needs a bit of work. Lastly, screenshots always help a review. |
You have a good topic and you've obviously played the game, which is good. I can tell from the review you enjoyed the game and from that, it makes me want to check it out.
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| xens (11) Feb 21, 2007 - 04:20 pm|
|Thank you, grammar has always been one of my weak points but I'll continue revising the article whenever I can. I'm working on the screenshots, but because I got a copy of Vista last week I sort of messed up my OS ....... Nonetheless, I'm trying to get them up ASAP.|
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