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Rainbow Six: Vegas
Score: 90%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1; 2 - 16 (Online)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Squad-Based/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
After its release earlier this year on the 360, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas finally hits the PS3. Vegas is the series' second revamp. After an ill-fated effort to revitalize the game as an action shooter with Rainbow Six: Lockdown, Vegas brings the game back to its roots as a tactical shooter while retaining Lockdown's accessibility. Though the wait has been hard for PS3 owners, it works out in the long run with the inclusion of the Red and Black map packs that were available on the 360 as $10 DLC.

On a technical level, Vegas' looks fall short when matching the 360 version. Texture work isn't as sharp and the colors come off a little duller. Models are detailed and feature gear that looks exactly like their real-life versions. One of the things that really got me was seeing my character's lips move while talking on the radio. You've also got some pretty cool particle and lighting effects, though they aren't used nearly as much as in the 360 version.

However, technical details are only one part of what makes Vegas look so good. Except for Disney World, Las Vegas is one of America's most recognizable landmarks. If something doesn't look right, people will notice. While no real casinos appear in the game, the fictional ones retain some of the more notable details, such as the Bellagio's fountain. The details go beyond outside appearances. Once inside, they are littered with little details like slot machines that spew tokens after being shot.

Sound is everything you would expect in a Tom Clancy title. Music has a big, action movie flair and gun sounds are loud and powerful. The voicework is pretty good, though a few of the terrorists sound like they are faking really bad accents. One of the cool things is the number of vocal cues used in each level. Teammates call out enemy positions and will even comment on your tactics if they aren't sound.

Rainbow Six: Vegas begins in Mexico during an operation to capture Irena Morales, a Mexican terrorist who is sneaking illegal immigrants across the border. The attempt to snatch Morales fails, but the team is able to unveil a plot aimed at Las Vegas.

Vegas places a heavy emphasis on using cover using an active cover system. You only take cover when holding the (L1) button; otherwise you are left in the open. This has its advantages since it makes it easier to slide from cover to cover, though it is also easy to forget and let go of the trigger, exposing yourself. And believe me... you don't want to expose yourself. The system works, though there are a few instances where you can't use cover in an area you realistically should be able to, or you take cover where you don't intend to.

While in cover, you can pop out and take a few shots or blind fire around corners. The first gives you better accuracy, though it leaves you open for a few hits; the second keeps you safe, but you're not likely to hit anyone. Firing blind is better used as an intimidation tactic in multiplayer games. In single-player it has its uses, mostly when someone is on top of your position, though the A.I. typically doesn't react.

With the exception of a few missions, you are always joined by two teammates. By itself, the A.I. does a great job of staying out of trouble. Pathfinding, which is typically a problem in any game, isn't an issue. Both are also good about covering your back and staying alive.

Level design is open and allows for varying tactics. How you go about taking down cells of enemies is up to you and there is no "wrong" way to do anything. Most areas are built with multiple entry points, so you can send your team through one door while you charge in from another or have everyone rappel down the side of the wall and crash through the window. Pacing is quicker than most tactical shooters. Waiting around isn't an option, forcing you to constantly be on the move and always thinking.

Up to four players can tackle the Story mode cooperatively. In addition, a full slate of competitive modes is also available for up to 16 players. All of the modes should be familiar to online players, and the few new modes are simply new takes on old favorites. Online play is generally smoother than on the 360, though it does have its problems. Voice chat is available, though not everyone can use it since few people own headsets. In the event you manage to find a chatty player, the voice quality is sketchy - sometimes it is clear while at others, it is muffled or scratchy. Finding games presents a few problems as well; you can search for nearly every match parameter you can think of except server size, so you never know what you'll get there.

Rainbow Six: Vegas offers Normal and Realistic difficulty settings. On Normal, the game is challenging, though you can take a decent amount of damage before dying. Similar to most recent shooters, damage can be rested off over time. However, this doesn't mean you are invincible since a few well-placed shots can still easily take you out.

On Realistic, tactics become even more important. You can't take as much damage, so things you might do in Normal mode may not be the best tactical decisions. Death comes often in Realistic mode, though it never feels cheap and more often than not, you will find yourself reassessing your tactics.

Game Mechanics:
Rainbow Six: Vegas is pretty good about building up gameplay. New options are introduced slowly. One objective will introduce the cover system while another introduces team control. Eventually all of the little parts come together into one big tactic.

Although the gameplay looks complicated, the controls are easy to use. Most buttons have two modes. For example, tapping a button switches weapons while holding it down brings up a crossbar that is navigated using the D-pad.

Team command is streamlined. There's an all-purpose command button that allows you to order your team to perform several location-specific actions. Pressing it while aiming at cover orders them to dodge for cover while near a door prepares a door breach. Once your team is in place, you can initiate one of three breach commands by pressing a direction on the D-pad. The entire setup is very easy to learn; it doesn't take much practice to get down and in no time at all, you'll find yourself planning and pulling off complex maneuvers.

Rainbow Six: Vegas makes its PS3 debut in a big way. Though it has a few shortcomings, it provides great single and multiplayer experiences that shouldn't be missed.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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