Rainbow Six Vegas
28th Sep 2006 | 14:40
Ideally it should go like clockwork. A quick combination of A then the right trigger kicks in the door and drops the first guy we see with a single bullet to the back of the head. His comrade takes a second to register what's just happened; that second is all that's needed for the rest of Rainbow Six team to swing through the opposite doorway and take out the surviving two terrorists before they can raise their weapons.
A quick down press of the D-Pad and a gloved hand, more detailed than any gloved hand really has the right to be, raises in front of our HUD and executes a full circle. The command is clear; our team mates fall in behind us. A quick flick of the RB button and our night vision goggles flicker on as we proceed into the dank darkness ahead.
Welcome to Rainbow Six Vegas. It drop kicks the trigger happy nature of Prey and sneaks past the Special Ops horror-fest of upcoming Xbox 360 FPS F.E.A.R. This is realistic tactical action warfare. It also just happens to pack more adrenaline-pumping set pieces than your average big-budget Hollywood blockbuster.
For a game that's scheduled for a November release this year, that it's managed to sneak under the radar for so long during it's two year development cycle without a hands-on by press is worthy of note in itself. But can the slow drip feed of screenshots and trailers in recent months be the real deal? Or is the unveiling so close to release due to a much more sinister reason? CVG hopped on a plane to the original Sin City to get the low down on a title set to go head-to-head with the sci-fi gore fest that is Gears of War.
The twenty minute demo kicks off with a fast helicopter ride through the lavish surroundings of the Las Vegas strip. If there's any proof needed that the Unreal Engine 3 can do wonders it's here; gazing out of the helicopter's side as Rainbow team receive orders on the escalating terrorist threat within the city makes us re-appreciate exactly how simple things like motion blur can blur the lines between reality and fiction. It really feels like we're in the heart of the gambling capital of the world. All we're missing is the tacky 'Welcome to Vegas' XXL T-Shirt.
We rope from helicopter to the roof of the partially-constructed Dante's Casino and are plunged into a succession of firefights that give no chance to ease into the interface. It's do or die time, but luckily our team mate A.I is smart enough to make up for our deficiencies and makes short work of the first wave of terrorist threat. The roof top becomes a mini-training ground as we re-learn the art of warfare, using the new Take Cover command with the left trigger when near a wall to enter third-person viewpoint and using the newly directed camera to check over our shoulders. A quick flick to the right or left leans us round, aiming into the middle distance, targeting reticule glowing red when on a target.
We get our first big set piece at the other end of tower, as a massive bell drops from its moorings and crashes through the stairwell, cutting out electricity and making us adapt our newly learnt tactics to playing in the dark. A raging fire below opts out thermal goggles: night vision is in. The next ten minutes is tension filled, slowly stepping down the ruined interiors of the buildings. Our ears automatically prick up to catch any distant footfall or whisper... We're starting to act like this is the real deal.
The O.P.A. system, which is at the heart of the Vegas gameplay, comes to the fore once we've made it down the stairwell intact. Montreal Studios' idea is to have a series of situations in which you need to adapt your game plan to save potential casualties and defuse the terrorist threat as efficiently as possible. Observe, Plan, and Assault works nearly as fast as you can say it. Sliding a snake cam under a closed door allows you to check patrolling patterns and target numbers, and a quick tagging system prioritizes terrorists for each team member. Once you've ordered your team by the door, it's up to you to decide on how to enter the premises. Go in guns blazing, roll a grenade in or disorientate your enemy with a flash grenade.
While the terrorists on offer in the demo never moved beyond trigger-happy action movie grunts, the final game promises to gradually up the intelligence until you're competing against squads as well trained as you are, potentially leading to some of the tensest and most exciting gun fights since the Black Mesa Research Facility was deemed a clean up operation by the military.
Already this first taste of the Vegas high life has us gambling that Rainbow Six Vegas is on course for the being one of the top Xbox 360 games of the year. Couple an intense fifteen hour single-player campaign with more twists and set pieces than the entire four series of 24 put together, with a promising multiplayer with a multitude of modes across Xbox Live and we're willing to have Elvis' 'Viva Las Vegas' downloaded onto our MP3 players in anticipation of the game's November release.