Rainbow Six Vegas 2 review

Team Rainbow are back and once again are called into action against the terrorist threat that seems to have focused on Las Vegas USA. The original Rainbow Six Vegas was well received across the board and whilst there were a number of annoyances with the game, Red Storm has had the chance to re-address the balance and iron out the creases for Vegas 2. This time round you control new character Bishop, who can either be a male or female lead. As Bishop you are tasked with leading two AI team mates through various not so glamorous parts of Las Vegas. The story runs alongside the first game and meanders around it like a viper, until the game’s conclusion where the cliff hanger ending from the first game is finally resolved.


If you are new into the fold and have not played the the first Rainbow Six Vegas, then you’ll have missed out on an excellent first person shooting experience. Unlike the Halos and other fast paced shooters of our generation, the Rainbow Six games offer a more slower paced, tactical approach. A few well placed shots from the enemy can put you down and out for good rather than giving the player unrealistically high pain thresholds where enemies have to empty entire clips into you before you are grounded. What makes these games appealing is the fact that as a player, you need to approach each situation with a high level of caution, planning out your moves rather than going in all gung ho. The style of gameplay really does offer some tense moments that will have you on the edge of your seats.

Rainbow Six games have always incorporated a team element and with the game’s single player component you get to have AI controlled team mates to watch your back if you are the point-man type of player. For those who like to be more commanding, then a simple control interface allows you to order your teammates to do the work for you. In the R6 Vegas games, if you (team leader) are killed then it’s game over and back to the last checkpoint. So, it makes sense to be able to send your squad in to do the dangerous stuff whilst you hang back and shout out orders. In Vegas 2 you have 2 AI teammates, who for the most part are very competent at looking out for themselves and the team as a whole. The control interface allows you to point at a location and order them there. They will automatically use the best cover available and if they come under fire en route will disable the threat before reaching the designated area. This was a complaint from the first game that seems to have been addressed, where the AI would blindly follow orders even if it meant them entering the hot zone and getting themselves killed in the process. I found that the AI acted more coherent this time round and tended to die far less in the more intense gun fights. The control interface also allows you to order your team to hold positions, stack up at doorways and changed their rules of engagement from passive to aggressive. Vegas 2 seems to have changed the level structure to allow for more tactical play compared to the original. I found that I was able to sit back more and pick off targets with a silenced sniper rifle whilst ordering my teammates further afield for tactical entry points and flanking maneuvers. Parts of the levels feel more open and this is a great improvement as sniping seemed almost redundant in the first game bar a few areas early on in the game. Playing Vegas 2, it also felt like being stealthy had a bigger role to play, where the use of silenced weapons really did make a big impact on how the enemies reacted. I found it possible to avoid death defying firefights altogether by simply getting the bead on enemies in a stealthy fashion.

Looking at the other subtle changes made to the game and the fact that you are able to have a male or female lead character is welcome, especially as the script changes accordingly, although your teammates do call you “Sir” instead of “Ma’am” if you opt to be female. The PEC (Player Elite Creation) mode that runs throughout the game is also a welcome addition. Before it was reserved for online play only, but its inclusion through all modes means you’ll be able to add a touch of personality to the single player game. I opted to have my female Bishop look at naughty as possible, and sporting a low cut T-shirt and 3 holed balaclava, would probably have looked more at home in a fetish club than killing terrorists.With the PEC stuff, you still have to earn the right to use more equipment but this means you always have something to work towards as the new XP system runs throughout the entire experience; meaning you’ll gain 5-10 XP points per kill depending on difficulty. Rather than tally up at the end of the missions, it’s an instant process which means you’ll be building up XP no matter how good or bad you are. It’s a shame there is no bonus for completing missions, but I guess this new method is a more accessible approach. As a side note, with the camo customization, a neat feature is the fact that what ever colours you decide to wear, your AI teammates will don the same camo and colour. It’s a subtle addition but worth mentioning as it adds that little bit extra personality to the game.

The ACES system is an interesting feature and like the gaining of XP runs throughout the entire game. There’s additional weapons to unlock in game and depending on how you play determines how quickly you’ll unlock certain weapons. There are three categories (Marksman, CQC and Assault) in which you score points based on the type of kills you perform. So for example performing long range kills will net you Marksman Points, which in turn will grant you marksman based weapons such as additional sniper rifles. The system works well and adds an almost RPG flavor to proceedings as level up icons flash up on the screen from time to time.

A lot was touted about the enemy AI in Vegas 2 and to me they still seemed to be the same as in the first game, albeit better equipped this time round. In fact it’s quite possible and feasible to snag weapons which are yet to be unlocked, by grabbing them from killed opponents. The Desert Eagle and AUG being two examples of this. I’m not sure if this was a mistake but I guess you can’t use them in the other modes beyond the single player Terrorist Hunt and Story. The enemy AI still acts stupid at times and with the new penetrable cover, they will still stay behind unsecured cover and be shot at. I also found that they would stay put when part of their bodies were poking out ( something we were promised would be fixed). I also had a horrid moment of having two shotgun dudes, drop into the map feet in front of me and let rip. This was unfair, but luckily only happened the once. I think the most annoying part of the AI is the fact that it’s based on triggers from the player. There were several moments where I would send my team forward into an area, where they would be met by zero resistance simply because I had not triggered the next set of enemies to spawn into the map. The enemies would only appear when I moved into the area. I hope this is issue is addressed in a future update as it kills some of the tactical experience in my view and make some moments rather too predictable.


Graphically Vegas 2 looks pretty much the same as the first game, with any improvements being subtle rather than overly obvious. What I will say is the levels seemed to be more vibrant this time round if that’s possible, considering the lush areas we visited in the first game. The convention centre mission in particular is very impressive in terms of details. There’s still some rather horrid textures used at times and I was surprised to see the quality of some in game posters to be awful where as other looked great. It’s not all smooth during gameplay either as I encountered some rather horrible dips in the framerate during the first mission and some other dips later on in the campaign. For a game with such high production values it’s a shame that these moments were QA passed. There were also a number of other graphical glitches and at one point a flaming building seemed to be frozen in time as the flames merely stopped moving, which looked rather stupid. I also noticed some moments where the lighting for an area would suddenly intensify as I moved into the area through a doorway.I am certain this isn’t a feature of your eyes adjusting to light, as it felt more like a graphical glitch more than anything.

Moaning aside, everything else runs smoothly and there’s some neat lighting touches from time to time, with some missions requiring the use of the trusty NVG or Thermal goggles. Shadows also feature and at times can help you determine if there’s a terrorist around the corner – although the new satellite imaging feature helps out greatly in this area. In general Vegas 2 looks the same as its predecessor.


Vegas 2 features the same tense soundtrack that featured in the original, with some new flavors thrown into the mix here and there. The voice acting is every bit as good as the first game and there’s usually a lot of voices to be heard. The pesky terrorists in particular have been given a few more lines including the rather amusing “Lima Oscar Lima Over” – you work out what that means. The gun sounds are as good as the first game, with some impressive “ring” to shots being fired in single shot modes in the open. Each gun has its own distinct sound and the audio really does make the P90 or MP5 sound meaty enough. Don’t forget to equip your MIC if you are after a more involving experience using voice commands – although this feature still pales in comparison to the Xbox versions of the games which seemed to have more commands and radio chatter via headset.


I played the campaign on Realistic setting from the offset and found the single player experience to last a reasonable time. The missions felt long enough and the checkpoints within them rather fair. I think most gamers will be able to beat the game between 6-10 hours depending on how focused you are and obviously there’s a huge amount of replay value in terms of using different weapons, unlocking more stuff or just jumping into the story with a friend on or offline. For players looking for more action then of course there the Terrorist Hunt mode which can now be played offline with AI or lone wolf which is great. Rainbow Six Vegas spawned a massive community of players for its co-op and versus game types and whilst the co-op has been stripped down to only two players as opposed to 4 the versus modes are back in full effect with some new game types thrown in for good measure. I suspect Vegas 1’s community will make the switch over to Vegas 2 as the games are pretty much the same, bar some minor improvements with the lobby system and such like. In general, there’s a lot to do here if you want to unlock everything (including all the achievements) and it could take many more hours of your time to accomplish this if you are an adversarial gamer.


Vegas 2 is an improvement over the original and whilst it’s easy to label the game as Rainbow Six Vegas 1.5, I think the overall ambition of the game is just right. The Vegas 1 gameplay didn’t need many new additions to make it better, as it was already at a high standard. I think what they have added is subtle and works very well to make the game feel fresh and exciting, even to those players who have rinsed out the original 10 times over. You could argue the developers have played it safe and not tried to add any innovation, but I think in this case that’s not such a bad thing as everything (bar the glitches) runs smoothly. Playing the story mode presented lots of great gaming moments and felt every bit as tense and fulfilling as the original game, if not better, and so in this respect the developers have succeeded. With so many average shooters on Xbox 360, it’s nice to still be entertained in the best way possible, and Rainbow Six Vegas 2 does provide the thrills and spills that gamers are looking for. If you like tactical shooters then this game is most certainly a must buy. If you are new to Rainbow games, then this is as good place to start as any as knowledge of the first game isn’t essential for the experience.



Written by: Rob Cram

Rob Cram has hundreds of video game reviews, thousands of articles under his belt with years of experience in gaming and tech. He aims to remain fair and free from publisher/developer influence. With his extensive knowledge, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement with his views are entirely optional. He might have a bias towards cyberpunk.