Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 brings gamers back to Sin City to rescue it from the clutches of another group of terrorist who've decided to start blowing stuff up. This time around, the game spends more time developing the characters and gives players a chance to shoot through the campaign with a friend in co-op mode. Ubisoft Montreal doesn't try to tinker with the formula, instead looking to add to what was an already popular title.
Vegas 2 can, at times, dip into the monotonous and the AI is spotty, but overall the game delivers a fun experience.
* Totally Tactics:The thing that separates Rainbow Six from other shooters is its heavy reliance on tactics and this game requires it in spades. You can use a snake cam to peek under doors and mark targets, clear rooms with flash bangs, grenades or smoke and almost have to slowly work your way from cover to cover to methodically clear a room.
* Deep maps All of those tactics would be for naught if it weren't for the incredibly detailed maps that let you find multiple routes into the same spaces, crawl through windows, and rappel, head first, down buildings. Vegas 2 has one of the most eclectic mix of detailed maps I've seen in a shooter.
* Multi multiplayer Not content to include just versus online multiplayer, Vegas 2 also has terrorist hunt which has you trying to find and kill a set number of bad guys in a time limit; and co-op play, which allows you to play through the entire game with a friend. And co-op Rainbow Six can be quite a blast.
* Customisation This Vegas has all of the weapons, camo, clothing and gear as the last, plus a bit more, including 11 new weapons. Another nice touch is the ability to hop into an outfitting menu as you ride in a helicopter to the next mission, without having to stop the briefing. You can also now carry over the experience earned in single player to multiplayer, and vice-versa.
* Uneven AI: The game's artificial intelligence, both friendly and enemy, can at times be brilliant, flanking your position, laying down cover fire, clearing a room of bad guys with tactical sweeps. But just when you think you've met your match, you'll run up on an enemy who literally just stands there staring at you until you decide you should probably shoot him.
* A winding tale: There's something to be said for a game that delivers a lot of substance, but sometimes there's even more to be said about a producer who knows when to start cutting. Vegas 2's plot is so convoluted that it can feel monotonous. Worse still, it is so packed with false endings that the real one, which wraps up with an almost humorous monologue, feels flat and anti-climatic when it finally arrives.
* Finishing touches The game doesn't quite look and feel like a true sequel. The graphics aren't really improved, with draw distances that can be surprisingly short, and there is still a bit of slow down and stutter at pivotal moments.
Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is a fine addition to the Rainbow Six library, giving gamers a lot of new maps to stalk through, hunched over, with a buddy or on their own. What it doesn't do, really, is introduce anything new to the formula. There are plenty of neat little tweaks and co-op play, while not fully drop-in, drop-out, is a fantastic addition. But in the end you're still playing Rainbow Six Vegas, with the same look and feel as the original.
If you weren't a fan of the original, then Vegas 2 probably isn't for you. If you were, this is a must buy if for no other reason than to go through the game with a friend in co-op.
Rainbow Six Vegas 2 was developed by Ubisoft Montreal, published by Ubisoft and released on March 18. Retails for $US 59.99. Available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, reviewed on Xbox 360. Played single player campaign to completion, tested multiplayer modes. Did not create any baby heads.