Like most of the Tom Clancy franchise you'll typically know what you're getting into before you start reading, watching, or playing it. Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 is no different. While the first Rainbow Six: Vegas game took the franchise into a new direction by offering a cover system (among other things), its sequel adds little to the previous title. RS: V2 improves upon the first game by refining it and changing things here and there to make it just the perfect fit. Think of this game as a top notch version of the first.
The plot is typical of most Tom Clancy games in that your character is a military operative who has one of the hardest days of their life. If you're looking for a deep plot with characters you'll remember for years, this is not the game. In fact, I can't even recall the name of the main character. You do play as a different person not directly related to the previous game but it doesn't matter because you could swap the two around and there would be no real difference. The story does take place before and during the previous game, so if you played Rainbow Six: Vegas and remembered the plot and also the characters from that game, this one will offer a different perspective along the same time line. It does a good job of tying in the two stories. There are some cool and “oh snap!” moments, but you'll see them coming before they actually happen. You don't hit the strip of Vegas in this sequel either, but there are plenty of new and interesting locals like a sign graveyard and the Las Vegas Convention Center. Though they all involve getting behind cover and shooting bad guys, it helps to break up the repetitiveness.
Compared to other shooter games on the market, RS: V2 looks pretty good. All the characters and weapons look much better then the previous game. The maps and objects in the world also look a bit better but sometimes get repetitive when going down a hallway with the same dark gray bricks you've seen a thousand times. Night Vision and Thermal Vision make a return in the game and look about the same as last time. Though the Thermal Vision tended to make me nauseous, you don't need to use them for an entire level like the previous game and using Night Vision as a substitute works fine. Sound: 7/10
One problem I have with this game is the sound. While not bad, most of the sound effects and music seems taken directly from the first game. The enemy vocabulary is larger this time around and they have some funny dialog if you stop and listen, but you'll often hear them shouting out the same lines as they did before. Music also suffers from this but overall, if this is your first time playing the RS: V series, you won't notice anything wrong. It just seems a bit lazy to reuse the exact same sound effects as the previous game with over a year between the two. Gameplay: 9/10
RS: V2 plays almost exactly like the previous title but improves in a couple of areas. First of all the added sprint feature helps getting from cover to cover a bit easier and quickens the occasional slow pace of the game. Controls are pretty much the same as before and seem a bit refined. The X and Y buttons do different actions depending if you tap them or hold them down and can be complicated at first but you won't be confused for long. A new and much improved tutorial level has been added that slowly introduces you to various actions and tactics. Hiding behind cover is just as easy and smooth as before, but think twice before moving to that flimsy overturned table because you are now able to shoot through that thin cover!
Using the AI controlled partners is still the same. Giving orders can be a bit complicated but will become second nature after the first level. The problem is the actual AI of your partners. Most of the time they will do exactly what you order them to do, but every once in a while they'll take the “scenic route” to their destination which will alert nearby enemies. This isn't a huge problem because your squad can clear out a room in half the time it takes you to get to cover. You'll tend to rely on your God like partners, which isn't a problem at higher difficulties but can seem a bit cheap at times.
One of the new features is the A.C.E.S system. Unlocking weapons is now done by your style of play, divided up between Marksman, CQB (Close Quarter Battle), and Assault. If you tend to get head shots and like shooting targets at long range, you'll fly down the Marksman line getting weapons more suited for that role. The same goes for the other two play types. You don't need to use a specific weapon for each style, but it helps. Upgrading your armor though is done the traditional way by gaining ranks. But instead of only having to play versus to get the upgrades, both the A.C.E.S system and rank progress can be done in single player, co-op, versus, and terrorist hunt.
Playing Co-op is a bit different this time around. Instead of having up to four players, you can only have one other. The trade off is that you can now use your two man AI squad in co-op just as you would in single player. You can also invite your friend at any time while playing and they can come and go as they please while not having to restart the level. Terrorist hunt is back and offers bringing the AI partners along and adding limited respawns. At the time of this review (4/4/08) there are many bugs and glitches plaguing the game like falling through the world, not being able to take cover behind an object you're supposed to, and a handful of others. While hosting co-op with a friend joining I have not personally experienced any of these bugs but my friend certainly has, causing us to restart a level many times. If a patch is offered to fix these problems and others, I will edit the review to include the patch.
On 4/23/08 Ubisoft released an update for the Xbox 360 version. While fixing the achievement glitches that most everyone had, the patch did not address some of the other issues. These include not being able to take cover behind certain objects one minute and then being able to the next, falling through the world, and poor partner AI. The patch seems to have fixed most other glitches (even the XP farming on the first level) and is a great improvement overall. Changes to the adversarial modes seem to help the slow pace of the game by improving spawn rates and weapon switching among other things. The huge change for Team Deathmatch is that now respawning players will randomly be placed on the map and not in a specific spot like before. Though this seems to remove spawn camping, an option to toggle this on/off should have been implemented and detracts from the tactical team gameplay from before. It is wonderful to see Ubisoft releasing a patch that fixes some of the major issues the game had and hopefully they will continue to do so.
Another update was released in early July 2008 which set out to fix some of the things the previous patch wronged and to add more features. Among the new changes is that there is now a total of 99 ranks after reaching Elite, but it offers nothing more than bragging rights. The A.C.E.S now have 100 total ranks. Each rank after 20 will offer an extra 5000 xp towards your rank. This makes leveling up and acquiring new weapons and armor even easier than before! There is now a toggle option for random respawns in adversarial mode and the spawning points are better when playing Terrorist Hunt. A new "High Stakes" mode has been added which alters aspects of the adversarial game to more of a "hard core" match from Call of Duty 4. The update once again improves areas of the game. While some problems with cover still exist, I feel the overall rating of gameplay deserves to be increased from 8/10 to a 9/10. Versus/Adversarial:
Not much to say about the adversarial modes. There are your standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and other modes from the previous game make returns. Two new modes are available called Total Conquest in which your team must capture and hold three points on the map for 30 seconds to win. The other is Team Leader which is like Team Deathmatch but with an objective point and one person on each team is designated as the leader who must make it to that extraction point. You are able to respawn on the leader to quickly come to aid if you die, but after the leader dies the respawns are turned off for that team. Taking out the ranking system from just the versus mode and applying it to all modes of play seems like it hurt the game for the RS: V hardcore veterans out there, but improves vastly for the casual player. Final Recommendation: 8/10
Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 is essentially an expansion pack for the first RS: V. While not much has been added, the core game has been refined to near perfection excluding some bugs. It offers an updated co-op game, improved single player portion, and refined versus mode. If you didn't play the first RS: V game, go out and pick this one up.