Rainbow 6 Vegas 2 Rochdale 2

I’ll stop doing footy-related jokes about games with multiple numbered titles when games companies stop making them (although Rainbow 6 is the name of the outfit in the game, not a sequel number, but hey, it’s my blog, fuck it).

The first Rainbow 6 Vegas was, well, I suppose the word is “average”. It did first person shootering fairly well, had a solid cover system, a couple of AI buddies who rarely broke, very limited tactical options, lots of decent set pieces, and a surprisingly good ending level. Nothing too original, nothing particularly outstanding, but it was solid and playable and could hold your attention for long enough. Multiplayer was equally solid and fun (when people found they could take pictures with the Xbox camera to map to their avatar’s face, there were a few literal “dickheads” running round Xbox Live which always made me chuckle). Co-op was the same as the one-player game, which allowed for more tactics, and that’s it.

I wanted to try the Xbox Games on Demand feature, so I bought the sequel. I’m probably half way through the game up to now, and it’s been structurally improved. Multiplayer, co-op and one player all share one avatar now; you kit one character out for all three game modes. There’s also an XP system in place, which unlocks new guns and armour, and you can earn XP in all three game modes too. So if you’re getting battered in multiplayer and you need a better sniper rifle, playing through single player or co-op and getting headshots will count towards the next rifle up the chain. This is all good.

The biggest flaw in R6V2, which it shared with the first game, is that the designers realised that the game gets a bit samey. Tell your AI buddies to go there, shoot that guy, they’ll shoot the others, and move onto the next room etc. It is repetitive. So in order to break things up, at about the halfway point, your AI buddies are taken off you. In the first game, this led to a massive difficulty spike (you realise just how quick the enemy AI is to react to your presence, and all you get is a shitty shotgun and your pistol). In order to get through, you have to learn the level in it’s entirety. Every enemy location. It’s the only way. The only saving grace is that the level was geared towards close range shooting, in order for your shotgun to be effective.

In the second game, the “lose your AI buddies” bit is slightly different. You’re allowed to keep your main weapons, which is a good thing. You’re also allowed to keep your grenades, which is even better. Where it goes downhill is that it asks you to go round a corner and take out four soldiers on the ground floor (they have shotguns and assault rifles), two soldiers on the first floor (they have assault rifles too), and a sniper who is on a gantry about a mile above ground level. Soon as you pop out to shoot one of these people, three of the others will have shot you to death. You also learn that you can’t throw grenades that far; you can take out a couple of the ground floor people if you are lucky, but the don’t help against the sniper and his minions.

This is the point where I found that adding armour to your character makes enough of a difference – apparently an armoured agent can withstand a sniper bullet and a burst from small arms fire, at the same time. Unfortunately it also slows you right down. This meant my usual tactic of legging it between bits of cover became redundant – I had to check every corner, and be ready for some previously hidden ninja fuck to ambush me at any time.  So I discovered that adding armour lessens the difficulty spike, which is a good thing.

After this section, the game presents you with a couple of examples of one of my pet gaming hates – a death you can’t avoid. You go into a room, press a button, and all hell breaks loose. You can duck, which gets you out of the immediate lines of fire. By now, you’re wondering where the fuck you can go to be safe, and where the fuck are they shooting at you from. As soon as this thought enters your brain, a previously locked (and unable to be opened) door gets kicked in, and four soldiers all shoot you in the head at the same time. You’d never ever know that was going to happen in advance. Completely unavoidable. Hate it. And once you kill the soldiers and walk to the door they came from, a driverless forklift truck hurtles at you while a soldier spawns behind a pillar and shoots you. It kills you twice in a row, with no way of predicting either thing was going to happen.

Just like in the first game, I’m now praying for the return of my AI buddies. I can send them into rooms first, they can find the instant kill rooms on my behalf. That’s what they are there for. Funny how having them taken away from you makes you realise just how much you use them, and need them to be there. A point made well enough in the first game though.

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