Rainbow Six Vegas: Best Action Game Ever?

In one frenetic week, I’ve completed the single player story mode of Rainbow Six Vegas on my Xbox 360.  It’s been an absolute blast (literally and figuratively), and it’s been a while since I’ve been this “into” a game.

First, I love the pacing of it.  RSV demands a deliberate strategy, movement, and setup followed by furious action.  There’s little more satisfying in action video games than planning a door breach, setting your targets, giving the order, and clearing the room before the enemy has a chance to take a single shot.  Or planning where your team sets up, where you set up, flanking the enemy, and going weapons free.  Or lining up and taking the perfect shot while the enemy is distracted by your team’s suppressing fire…

RSV is a game that supports different playing styles and tactics as well.  I’m a sniper at heart in video games; I enjoy dispatching opponents so they don’t know what hit them or where it came from.  Others like massive application of force, close-in combat, or using movement to lure enemys into ambushes.  RSV will satisfy all types of players–in fact, a flexible strategy is the best way to find success in the game.

The presentation is stunning.  Car doors come off.  Bullet holes appear on walls.  Slot machines spew coins when shot.  Tempered glass and plate glass break like their real-life counterparts.  Casino noises are dead-on.  The story is solid.  The missions flow well.

Here are some tactical tips that helped me through the game:

  • Always go high.  Covering an enemy from above gives you every advantage possible.  There are several points in the game (dam control room, Fremont Street, Vertigo Spire casino floor) that are difficult to accomplish by coming in on the main level but really not that difficult if you “soften” your entry with some sniper rifle work from above.
  • Use your team to command the enemy’s attention while you flank and dispatch them (or vice-versa).  I like the situation where I’m perpendicular to the line of fire between my team and the enemy–I can see both the other Rainbows and the terrorist, and it’s very effective.  Conventional military doctrine is to never split your force in the face of stronger opposition.  Throw this out the window; the Rainbows are as far from conventional as you can get.
  • Combine the first couple of tips for devastating effect.  I’m thinking especially of the trainyard stage and the one where you have to hack and blow up the terrorist’s van–you can stay high (and pretty covered) while directing your team’s movements below.
  • Use the “peek” ability from behind cover to line up your shot, then duck out from cover and pull the trigger.
  • Use the “tag” ability judiciously, not necessarily as a target designator for your team but to keep an enemy identified and (perhaps more importantly) to let you know when they’ve shuffled off this mortal coil.
  • Advance, then retreat, repeat.  This has two advantages: it draws enemies out of cover and it allows you to return to a position that’s known.  Sometimes you’ll hit a “spawn point” that causes enemies to be generated, so you can trigger that and then retreat to a spot where obviously the cover was good enough for you to survive previously.  Several of the more difficult door breaches can be accomplished this way.  Send the command to open the door, then order your team back behind the door.
  • If a Rainbow (or both!) is hit and downed, you have more time than you think to heal them.  Continue to calmly perforate the enemies from cover until you can safely heal–as my Boy Scout lifesaving training said, first rule of victim rescue is don’t make yourself a victim too!  You don’t need to stress about healing a teammate until they turn red, and some of my favorite moments were when both teammates were down under withering fire and I managed to kill all the enemies and heal them.
  • Door breach protocol should be as follows, in this priority order:
    • Hostages: Flash and Clear only, after designating targets.
    • Opponents next to or in front of the door: Breach and Clear
    • Opponents with backs turned to door: Frag and Clear
    • All other situations: Open and Clear.  Realistically, frag and clear takes too long for enemies paying attention to the door and breach and clear is only effective when people are right next to it.  You could probably switch to Infiltrate, Flash and Clear, and then back to Assault, but most breaches are easier with giving the team a wide latitude to dispose of terrorists.
  • Leave some lovely C4 presents behind for terrorists when they come at you in waves over turf you’ve already covered (especially at the computer hack after the dam control room or in Dante’s Theater where you can tuck some behind the benches in the back of the theater and detonate when the fast-rope enemies come).
  • It’s a fine line between using your team as an asset and relying on them too much (and missing out on the fun of the game).  Use them to your advantage, but don’t make them do all the work…
  • If you die more than a few times, your strategy is wrong.  Check the tactical map for alternate routes, better cover, or a side door that helps you out.

Hope the tips help!  All in all, it’s one of the most satisfying action games that I’ve played.  It’s not run-and-gun like Halo or Call of Duty.  Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter stresses long-range combat more–RSV is more up-close and personal.  And RSV has more action than Splinter Cell.

Here’s one of the best parts: I can use the Xbox Live Vision Camera and put my own ugly mug as my multiplayer avatar!

The best part is, the ending leaves the game wide open for the next one.  I can’t wait!

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