Published March 30, 2008
First-person shooters are usually an all-you-can-eat buffet of firepower and adrenaline.
Fittingly, the latest game in Ubisoft's "Rainbow Six" series continues to bet on Sin City as the urban playground of choice for hunting and taking down superbad terrorists.
The awkwardly titled "Tom Clancy's Rainbox Six: Vegas 2" ($59.99 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3) is actually the sixth game in the "Rainbow Six" squad-based franchise and is mostly unchanged from its 2006 predecessor.
Outside of a ramped-up multiplayer component, the most notable difference is the ability to sprint forward and sideways — but not backward.
What happened in the original "Vegas" apparently stayed in "Vegas" because this sequel barely touches on the story line of manipulated Rainbow team leader Logan Keller, yet retains almost the exact same style of heart-pumping SWAT-like gameplay, which includes plenty of ducking for cover and rappelling down buildings.
This time, players suit up as Bishop, a generic squad team leader.
This customizable character can be altered physically — man, woman, white, black, Asian, whatever — and tactically with different clothing, armor and weapon options that are earned or found throughout the game.
Ultimately, such choices are irrelevant.
Unlike the bulging story line in the original "Vegas," this sequel's single-player campaign has about as much plot as a showgirl routine.
However, that lack of narrative doesn't stop "Vegas 2" from feeling particularly epic, not so surprising considering the life-or-death scenarios constantly confronting Bishop and his or her team throughout the game.
It's like a whole season of "24" crammed into a video game!
One of the most chilling moments in "Vegas 2" occurs when an informant the Rainbow squad is supposed to meet is intercepted by terrorists and tortured.
His guttural pleas are continually broadcast over the squad's commlink while they race to find him — until the sound becomes too excruciating and Bishop orders the audio feed muted.
The tension extends to the icy score and cavernous environments of "Vegas 2"; however, most of the levels hardly resemble Vegas, baby.
The game's first half takes place in nondescript warehouses and alleyways before players move onto more stimulating locales, such as a cheesy casino and Chinese theater.
At certain points in the game, players will undoubtedly desire to dishonorably discharge their two squad members. The allies' artificial intelligence is far from perfect.
But ordering the sidekicks to bust open doors and chuck grenades is strategically imperative to moving through the game's indoor areas.
Online gameplay in "Vegas 2" is where players can spend the most time.
Unfortunately, co-op play is somewhat wonky and engaging in multiplayer battles on the game's 12 maps are nowhere near as intuitive as last year's best first-person-shooter "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare," especially on the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
"Vegas 2" is fun, but it's not really worth a second trip back to the buffet line unless you're really hungry.