Summary: The bright lights of a random rundown warehouse in Vegas 2 await you to kill some Commie Nazis!
Ahem. Thatís my issue, and Iím 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 2006ís 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 R6íer 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. Youíre 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 Bishopís 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 worldís 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, itís Viva Las Vegas time, and youíre off to save the Mecca of Sleaze from terrorists who want to make it go boom.
It just doesnít 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 thatís solely because of the theater levelís 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 isnít anything here that feels ďiconic Las VegasĒ like Danteís Casino in the first Vegas. And itís 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.
Another major renovation is the Advanced Combat Enhancement and Specialization (ACES) system, which is a convoluted name for a simple way to reward players for what they do in the game. Points are now dished out for the three combat categories of Marksmanship, Assault and Close-Quarters Battle, letting you up your skills in an RPG-like fashion. So if youíre one of those big-time sniper types who loves to shoot tangos in the head from long distances, like yours truly, youíll get Marksmanship points for every kill during a mission. Likewise in the other two skills if you like to smash through doors or scrap up close and personal. Collect enough points and you receive a goodie at the end of the level guaranteed to aid with your combat specialty. These bonus weapons donít make a whole lot of difference to how Vegas 2 plays, although just receiving them adds an extra layer of authenticity to the whole experience as it now seems like the R6 bigwigs are tracking my progress.
Multiplayer is a bit more give and take. Co-op mode through the campaign has been weirdly dialed back to supporting just two human players from four. Even stranger, only the host gets to control your two AI allies, so one player winds up directing the entire team. Thatís not exactly cooperative, Ubisoft. Gaining levels has at least been opened up to compensate for the co-op quibbles, as you can now earn ranks playing offline and then take that soldier into online matches. This isnít a huge boon to multiplayer, although at least the option provides more incentive for online fans to finish the single-player campaign.
The rest of the multiplayer just repackages the ten offerings from the first Vegas with new maps and adds three new modes of play in Team Leader, Demolition, and Total Conquest. Only Team Leader offers anything innovative, though, courtesy of a concept whereby you have to take out the opposing teamís boss in order to make kills permanent. This focus makes matches really intense and unforgiving, especially for noobs. Playing against random people over Xbox Live was even more ridiculous than usual, although I at least learned some new cuss words.
Even with the phony terrorists and barely updated gameplay, Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 keeps the momentum of the first game going strong. Some added innovations would be appreciated, although this sequel blends so well into its predecessor that I donít really care about the absence of anything really new.
Second verse, same as the first
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