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Critical Reception: Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2, Ubisoft's tactical squad-based shooter sequel that is "a glorious example of fan service," according to critics.
This week's edition of the regular Critical Reception column examines online reaction to Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2, Ubisoft's tactical squad-based shooter sequel that is "a glorious example of fan service," according to critics. Originally released in late 2006, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas met with fast sales on the Xbox 360, and maintained a dedicated online multiplayer fanbase in the months that followed. Many squad-based shooter fans stuck with Vegas even through the release of other popular first-person offerings like Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 and Halo 3. Its sequel, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2, was released this week to a Metacritic-averaged score of 85 out of 100. John Davison at 1UP.com gives Vegas 2 a rating of A-, though he warns that fans expecting an instant continuation of the original game's storyline may be disappointed. "If you were expecting immediate resolution to that frustrating 'To Be Continued' note from last time and the opportunity to hunt down the treacherous Gabriel Nowak, then you're going to have to cool your jets," he cautions. "The story mode in Vegas 2 is set before, during, and after the events of the original." Davison explains that Vegas 2's changes make for a better game overall, however. "Unlike previous hero Logan Keller, Bishop is a hero entirely of your making," he says, "and represents the first of a laundry list of new features and enhancements in this sequel ranging from a new sprint run to a host of fan-friendly multiplayer features." Many of these new features are detailed in Davison's review. "There's a fairly broad selection of options and equipment available from the get-go, including Vision camera support for mapping your own face onto the hero," he writes. "The experience point system from Vegas' multiplayer also shifts over to single-player here, too, with performance rated for marksmanship, close-quarters combat, and assault skills." "Hardcore players will no doubt spend more hours online than off, and this is where you'll find the meat of the improvements," Davison continues. "Multiplayer matches no longer have to be balanced, so it's possible to set games for hardcore experts to show off their skills by taking on large armies of opponents, and (at last, someone gets it!) players can now invite friends into ranked matches from the multiplayer lobby." "Vegas 2 is probably best characterized as a glorious example of fan service," Davison notes in conclusion. "Many of the enhancements are direct responses to the very vocal and passionate community that plays online regularly. Though there are a few funky issues with the single-player campaign, they by no means outweigh the good stuff that the game has to offer overall." IGN's Nate Ahearn pens a review scored at 8.4 out of 10, expressing similar disappointment at Vegas 2's failure to conclude the original Vegas' storyline. "To be a true success in the eyes of many faithful fans, Vegas 2 must offer a fitting conclusion to the cliffhanger storyline, revamped gameplay and the most fleshed out multiplayer mode the world has ever seen," he begins. "Rainbow Six Vegas 2, while a worthy follow-up, doesn't meet such lofty expectations." Ahearn praises many of Vegas 2's gameplay additions, though he notes that many aspects have been seen before in other titles. "There's an all-new perpetual character system that allows for experience points as well as the new ACES (Advanced Combat Enhancement and Specialization) points to be carried over across all of the modes in Vegas 2," he says. "None of the rewards are as gratifying – neither in their graphical display or in the reward itself – as in Call of Duty 4, but the fact that you can carry them through to different modes is a definite plus." Vegas 2's AI teammates may frustrate, however. "Vegas 2 is designed to be more tactical, but no one told your two AI teammates," Ahearn criticizes. "Too often that you'll be skillfully maneuvering through pieces of cover, picking off hapless enemies, only to have these two nimrods wander out into the open and get gunned down." "Having said all that, the single-player campaign was never the star of Vegas," Ahearn acknowledges. "Multiplayer and co-op are where the fun really lies and the same is true in the sequel." Ahearn finds that the same cannot be said of Vegas 2's co-op mode. "The changes made to the co-op gameplay were poorly implemented," he notes. "Campaign co-op was shrunk from four players down to two. But you are still joined by two AI teammates. Only the host player is able to issue commands, leaving the second player as nothing more than a hired gun. Player two is instead forced to sit idly by as the first player orders teammates around and completes objectives in the level." Overall, Ahearn finds that much of Vegas 2's gameplay is solid, though it fails to live up to many of the standards set by its predecessor. "The gameplay in Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is awesome; it just isn't as awesome as it was 18 months ago," he concludes. "For those who haven’t taken a stroll down the streets of Sin City than you needn’t look any further than Rainbow Six Vegas 2, but those looking for a sequel that surpasses the original in everyway imaginable will be disappointed." At Eurogamer, Kristan Reed rates Rainbow Six Vegas 2 at 7 out of 10, emphasizing that the title feels more like an expansion pack than a full-fledged release. "I'll bring this up again since everyone seems to have forgotten: Ubisoft used to call these games 'standalone expansion packs'" he begins. "Take Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow, and Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike - great examples of fan service, and we gave both 8/10. Had they been full-price, we might have been grumpier about what were blatant retreads, albeit quality ones. It's all about context." "But since the so-called next generation rolled into town, that approach has been replaced with near-annual updates dressed up as full sequels," he continues. "Rainbow Six Vegas, though, got most things right first time. More of the same is just...well, going over old ground." The length of Vegas 2's single-player campaign is described as short in comparison to other titles in the genre. "Lasting just seven 'acts' (over 25 scenes each lasting about 10-15 minutes), the single-player campaign is woefully short-lived," Reed writes. "Your mileage will vary related to difficulty level and your ability to nail terrorists, but the ongoing trend for shorter single-player experiences in blockbuster releases is blatantly in evidence here, with six hours likely to be the average first run-through for most." Reed notes that Vegas 2's mechanics work well, however, and are intuitive in spite of their complexity. "It's easy to forget how refined the control system is, and how well it serves a once-complex game," he praises. "The slick system employed allows you to move freely while dictating the position of your men - whether stacking them up against the next door or requesting them to fall in behind you." "Overall, Vegas 2 feels like an incremental expansion, despite the success of the character-creation feature," Reed summarizes. "The annoying thing is that with a bit more investment these quickfire sequels would feel like true follow-ups, which would go a long way with those of us who've been following the series for the past ten years. As it is, we'll still go to Vegas, but we'll be grumpy on the way home." Critics note that little has changed in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2, and its core gameplay will likely satisfy fans of the original. Though some caution that the title suffers for its short single-player campaign and multiplayer modes that are arguably a step back from its predecessor's, overall critical reaction describes Vegas 2 as a solid follow-up.

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