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

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to the Ubisoft Montreal-developed Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas, a title that some are calling a much-needed overhaul for the long-running Rainbow Six series.
This week's edition of the regular Critical Reception column examines online reaction to the Ubisoft Montreal-developed Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas, a title that some are calling a much-needed overhaul for the long-running Rainbow Six series. Prior entries like Rainbow Six 3 and Rogue Spear may have met with critical acclaim, but the Rainbow Six series of tactical first-person shooters has been in decline recently. Last year's Rainbow Six: Lockdown in particular was said to be more arcade-like and less strategy-based than its predecessors -- a change that alienated many longtime Rainbow Six fans, and earned Lockdown a host of mediocre review scores from critics. Fortunately for fans, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas appears to address many of the problems found in Lockdown, earning an average review score ratio of 89% from a number of largely enthusiastic and positive reviews. "It was looking pretty bleak after Rainbow Six: Lockdown," begins Yahoo Games' Tom Chick in his review. "That sloppy action game was very nearly the death of this eight-year-old series. But Ubisoft have once again managed a minor miracle." Awarding Vegas a score of 5 out of 5 stars, Chick is especially impressed with what he describes as an immersive combat system. "The gunplay in Vegas is superlative," he says. "There's a feeling of pressing yourself into a defensive position rather than simply toggling it and letting the animation take over. "It's a real pleasure to see Rainbow Six given such royal treatment, particularly if you're a fan of the series," Chick concludes. "But even if you just like gunplay, this is a great time for shooter fans, whose embarrassment of riches just got even more embarrassing. At last, Rainbow Six is back among the best of the best." IGN's Jonathan Miller is similarly critical of last year's Lockdown, but remarks that with Vegas, "it's clear that the Rainbow Six franchise is back as a premier tactical shooter." "Versus multiplayer has always been a strength of Rainbow Six, and that doesn't change here," claims Miller in his 9.3-out-of-10 review, giving particular praise to Vegas's online multiplayer capabilities. In addition to offering a variety of enjoyable competitive play modes, Vegas also boasts a cooperative mode that Miller describes as "among the most enjoyable co-op experiences out there." Miller is also pleased with Vegas's balance of complexity and accessibility. "Rainbow Six: Vegas returns to form as an excellent tactical shooter," he summarizes, "but is much more accessible for the average shooter fan with streamlined controls and a simple health system." Charlie Barratt of Games Radar, however, warns that Vegas should not be played like a typical first-person shooter. "You'll approach a new environment or new enemy from your old-fashioned, one-man-army FPS perspective and the more realistic, team-based Vegas will knock you right out," he writes. "Learn to play by its rules, however, and it will reward you with an entirely different, but no less satisfying, way to play a shooter game." Despite enjoying Vegas enough to score it at 9 out of 10, Barratt says that its difficulty is not to be underestimated. "Vegas takes its tension-drenched atmosphere very seriously - perhaps too seriously for some gamers," he warns. "Despite all your cautious self-preservation, a good portion of your conflicts will inevitably finish with a 'game over' screen and, just like that, you've lost half an hour of your life." However: "Remarkably, we found ourselves reloading that last checkpoint without hesitation more times than not." "Rainbow Six Vegas gets pretty much everything right," Barratt concludes. "But the game's greatest feat is adding strategy to the first person shooter and getting the player - whether working alone or with others - to occasionally stop, forget about the gun and just think. You'll be amazed at how well it works and at how good it feels." After the misstep that was Lockdown, Vegas seems to offer everything than players and critics expected from previous installments of Ubisoft's Rainbow Six series. Hopefully, future Rainbow Six releases will follow Vegas's example and provide similarly exceptional combat and multiplayer options.

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