Crispy Gamer

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2

The real challenge when writing about the Rainbow Six Vegas sequel is to not use the line from that damned Las Vegas tourism commercial.

You know the one.

Trust me, the temptation is there. I can feel THE LINE THAT SHALL NEVER BE REPEATED trying to come out even as I type this.

Back, Satan! Back!

One of the top five multiplayer games of '07 -- "it was up there with Gears of War and Halo 3," the Ubisoft rep happily informed me -- Rainbow Six Vegas successfully moved the series away from its played-out back-alleys-in-some-obscure-Eastern-European-country settings and transported it to the depressing neon lights of the Las Vegas strip.

Obviously, it was a success, since the sequel -- looking pretty damned polished at a January Ubisoft event in New York -- is due in stores this March.

What you'll get here is all-new single-player content, new multiplayer maps and a slightly new setting. Ubi claims that Vegas 2 will focus less on the glitzy, casino-centric backdrops seen in the first game, and will instead take place in less tourist-centric locales off the Strip.

Example: The Las Vegas Convention Center is a locale in the game. Not exactly my idea of an exciting place to sort out a hostage standoff -- unless it took place during CES in broad daylight -- but I do appreciate the fact that Ubi is trying to give gamers new visuals in the sequel.

More interestingly, Vegas 2 features savvier enemies; enemies who now have access to the same exact toys that you have, like the thermal vision goggles. "No longer will you be able to lob a smoke grenade into a room, put on your goggles, wade into the smoke, then take enemies out as they stagger around blind," I was told. "Because they'll put on their goggles too, and fight back."

One more thing to look forward to: co-operative play shouldn't feel as tacked-on as it did in the original. If you've got a friend, you're in luck: Each and every map in Vegas 2 has been designed with co-operative play in mind.

Speaking of multiplayer, the popular customize-your-avatar system returns, giving you the opportunity to once again tinker endlessly with your military-issue clothing and gear. Ubisoft also hinted at two new team-based adversarial modes, but despite my attempts to bribe them with proscuitto sandwiches and deep-tissue massages, they remained tight-lipped on the details.

Graphics, I was told, were "improved." Maybe my monocle needs a spit-shine, but if they have been, I certainly couldn't see it. Make no mistake, they still look terrific, but I would not use the word "improved" to describe Vegas 2's visuals compared to the original Vegas.

The release of the game will coincide with the -- believe it or not -- 10th anniversary of the Rainbow Six franchise. I'll go ahead and say what you're thinking: What the hell have I been doing with my life? Anyway, keep your eyes on Crispy for our upcoming full review, to see whether or not this tango gets neutralized.

This preview was based on a publisher-driven demo of the game. The game?s release is scheduled for March 2008.