By the time you read this, the demo for Rainbow Six: Vegas should have made it’s way from being an Official Xbox Magazine exclusive to being available to any Xbox 360 owner via Xbox Live Marketplace.
Let’s get the most important thing out of the way first: Go download the demo now!
Without a doubt, the demo shows gamers what is the best Rainbow Six experience to date since the series hit the console scene. Graphically standing head and shoulders over Ubisoft’s own Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter with a cover system that laughs at Gears of Wars’ clunky offerings, this is the game to watch this fall season.
Yet, the demo doesn’t show off that old “room-to-room breach and clear” gameplay that Rainbow Six diehards live and breath until the very end. If you only play though the first five minutes, you’re going to walk away thinking they’ve made another R6: Lockdown, which isn’t even close to reality.
The addition of a Call of Duty 2-style health system keeps the action moving along, but never lets you run-and-gun, rather it allows you to keep playing if just grazed by a terrorist’s bullet. This is a big change up, but in practice I imagine it will keep you in the game rather than have you searching for that reload/save menu after every encounter.
The Clancy standard three-tiered health system isn’t the only casualty as RSV moves into the next-gen. You’ll only command two squad members while romping around Vegas. Though, it must be said that in this case two are far better than three. The best AI yet seen in the R6 series and easy to issue commands make flanking bad guys and clearing rooms delightfully fun.
Part of this is due to how you can now use the back button to tag which terrorists your team mates take out first when entering an area. Combine this with the new snake-cam (press A while looking down in front of a door) and suddenly it’s the terrorists who are at the disadvantage when you enter a room commando style.
Yes, the framerate and a few glitches (like the loud buzzing sound when using the night vision goggles) are distracting, but all are said to have been cleaned up in the final game. What isn’t glitchy is the excellent cover system that’s activated by holding down the left-trigger. With just a tap, you’ll fluidly move from first-person to third-person hunched up against the nearest piece of cover.
Push the stick to peek out and fire, or mash the right trigger to fire blindly around the corner. Getting out of cover is as easy as letting go of the left-trigger. Anyone who’s played Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter will tell you just how much better this system feels. The first part of the demo is the best time to get a feel for the system. Try going forward and taking cover behind the short wall that overlooks the first area for some fun sniping action.
Not present in the demo is any form of multiplayer or co-op. However, both of these are on deck for the final game. Each mode allows your to customize your appearance to the max with different types of armor, clothing, weapons, and even the Xbox Live Vision Camera -- map your face into the game!
Suddenly, November is looking very good for Xbox 360 owners not on the Gears of War hype train. With what looks to be another excellent single-player romp and the promise of the most customizable multiplayer experience this side of Halo 3, maybe you should put Rainbow Six: Vegas on your post-Turkey Day shopping list?