By Neil Schneider
A few months ago, we reviewed Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Vegas in stereoscopic 3D, and it’s sequel time! Rainbow Six Vegas 2 promises smarter enemies, larger Vegas sites, new features, and more. Does it add up to the promises? Let’s find out!
Before I go into the story of R6 Vegas 2, let me point out some cool features added to the game. There is game immersion, and then there is immersing yourself IN the game. Unlike the first Rainbow Six Vegas, your character is 100% based on your input. To do this, you have two options. Like other games, you can pick and choose a wide selection of faces and facial features to get the likeness you want. OR, with the help of a webcam, R6 Vegas 2 captures images of your head, calculates the contortions of your face with some minor input from the gamer, and with striking realism – you’re in the game!
A second feature is a rank and scoring system. The original Rainbow Six Vegas let you pick and choose appropriate guns based on availability on the battlefield. In R6 Vegas 2, your weapons choice only gets better when you get better. If you played the original R6 Vegas, you will have a new appreciation for being able to pick up weapons from fallen enemies at a whim because in R6 Vegas 2, there are limits to what you are able to use depending on your accomplished skill level.
In addition to weapons, you also have a wide selection of armor to choose from. Helmets, uniforms, vests and arm pads – even a choice of goggles! The relationship tends to be a trade-off of more protection in exchange for less speed and maneuverability.
As was the case with the original game, you are a squad leader sent to take out terrorists, save civilians, and disarm bombs. You also have special tools to get the job done, like a snake camera that can scope a room from under the door, infrared and night vision goggles that let you see in dim lighting conditions or if the room is filled with smoke, and a capable team that blasts through from the other side so you have two points of attack.
I still like the coolness factor of being able to hug walls and hide behind pillars and wall corners like the original Rainbow Six Vegas. This lets you shoot blindly from behind hiding places, and gives you a more realistic shoot and duck model that is lacking in most other first person shooters. Something new in R6 Vegas 2 is the ability to shoot through materials. If an enemy is hiding behind wooden boards or thin materials, you can still take them out by penetrating their defenses.
The AI is much better in R6 Vegas 2 and the enemies have much sharper aim than you will remember from the first game. You are going to find nail biting levels where you have to find creative ways to flush out snipers, or find that crazed terrorist with the shotgun that keeps taking you out, and worst of all – the enemies that throw the grenades at YOU for a change.
Count yourself very lucky that most of the game is played with the help of a squad team because you really need them. Late in the game, there is a sequence where you need to go solo or “lone wolf”, and without your back-up support scouting ahead, you really appreciate how much harder the game is without your team.
What made the original Rainbow Six Vegas special were the environments. By exploring Las Vegas at night, it really showcased the design work and recreation of what Vegas is like and made the game memorable. Where Rainbow Six Vegas 2 succeeded in game engine and feature improvements, I have to say there was some disappointment in their choice of environments.
First, much of the game takes place during the day. I think they did this because it is a complete contrast from the original title that was played mostly at night. However, most of the environments weren’t casinos or locations unique to Las Vegas. Instead, you are fighting terrorists in warehouses, suburbia, junk yards, and air bases. I mean, where’s the authenticity of fighting through a recreation center gymnasium?!?
However, much credit goes to capturing the visual experience of exploring the Las Vegas Convention Center. If you have ever been to the Consumer Electronics Show, this sequence will be a treat. The same goes for the monorail station that soon follows. I don’t think R6 Vegas 2 captures every room, but they got the feel right. It was funny to hear unsuspecting terrorists debate the need for violence in video games from around an exhibition hall corner.
In order to progress from one part of the game to the next, you need to physically reach certain map points, and the distance from point to point isn’t always the same. You can’t save your games otherwise, and this created a lot of frustration for me because you can spend twenty minutes carefully clearing a room of terrorists, and get killed just before you reach your marker. For me, it added a lot of stress to the game that shouldn’t have been there.
I have to say that the story was difficult to follow. I still don’t know who the main characters are and how they relate to each other and what these terrorists were hoping to accomplish or why – and I finished the game! I was expecting a direct sequel from the original given how the first game ended, but the link between the two seems weak, and I’m going to have to look it up on Wikipedia to figure out what’s going on.
The good news is while the original multiplayer functionality was unmemorable at best, Rainbow Six Vegas 2 did a much better job this time. You can play cooperatively in single player maps, play alongside or against fellow gamers in a wide selection of multiplayer maps, and earn additional rank and experience with online game play to unlock additional weapons and options. I would go so far as to say that the single player campaign is a glorified teaser for what the new multiplayer functionality has to offer.
The nature of R6 Vegas 2’s tactical assault formula makes for a very tense multiplayer game. It’s not like Fear Combat or the Battlefield series where you run around with guns blazing. You need to think things through and carefully crouch from room to room, hiding, attacking from the shadows, and hiding again. The snake camera is important and you will need to use your night and heat vision goggles depending on the map. It’s very slow and tense because you always feel vulnerable. With the added benefit of experience points, the stakes are high too.
From a stereoscopic 3D point of view, not much has changed since the original game. Rainbow Six Vegas 2 will not run on the NVIDIA stereoscopic 3D driver system. I don’t think this is Ubisoft’s fault, and I am hopeful a future NVIDIA driver release will rectify this issue.
The game does work on the iZ3D 1.08 beta drivers and 1.07 release driver. You will need to turn the “Mouse Lock” feature off because it interferes with mouse scrolling and aiming in the game. I also found that when the anti-aliasing is set too high in R6 Vegas 2, the game will slow to a slideshow crawl. I think this has to do with GPU memory limitations, and nothing more.
As with the original game, all the scenes are rendered very well with few if any visual anomalies. R6 Vegas 2 has a lot to show, and stereoscopic 3D complements this game a great deal by adding tension and immersion that would otherwise be easily missed. Unfortunately, like the original title, all the guns and scopes are rendered incorrectly for stereoscopic 3D game play.
I enjoy a good depth and pop-out experience, and in order to achieve this, while the rest of the scene will look proportionate, the guns and scopes will be separated too far apart. The guns are so far apart, your eyes should be able to ignore the 2nd gun image, or the gun may slide right off the screen altogether. The iZ3D driver developers have analyzed the game, and determined that while the guns are rendered at the correct depth, they are at the wrong scale.
I have informed Ubisoft about this error, and their communications team have forwarded the findings to the game’s producer. They are also aware that if or when a fix is in place, we will amend this review to reflect the update. While I can’t speak for this game in particular, I have high hopes for Ubisoft. They are currently teamed up with James Cameron to release a stereoscopic 3D game called Avatar, and I’m hopeful the lessons learned with this title will rub off on the other development teams.
While easy to miss, the shadows don’t always render consistently in both eyes, and I’m hopeful the iZ3D team will be able to correct this in a future driver release.
Anomalies aside, the game performance in stereoscopic 3D is very playable. My current system is an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ (Socket 939) with 4GB of RAM, XP Home SP3, and an NVIDIA 8800 GTS 512. I expect very playable performance out of an NVIDIA 7900GTX GPU or better as well.
In summary, I would say that Rainbow Six Vegas 2 was a clear improvement in game features and functionality, and had this been combined with the visuals and story of the previous title, it could have fared even higher. From a stereoscopic 3D point of view, R6 Vegas 2 is frustratingly close to perfection, and if the guns were rendered with the correct scaling, Rainbow Six Vegas 2 would get a better grade than we can give it. In fact, it will get a better review if this anomaly can be fixed because it deserves it – the same holds true for the original Rainbow Six Vegas.
In our gallery review section, you will find additional stereoscopic 3D image samples and an anaglyph (red/blue glasses required) stereoscopic 3D movie that you can download to get a sense of the 3D effect in Rainbow Six Vegas 2. Please remember that anaglyph is not reflective of modern full color solutions, and is for sample purposes only.
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How Memorable Is This Game
Stereoscopic Effectiveness iZ3D
Stereoscopic Effectiveness NVIDIA
Overall rating: iZ3D
Overall rating: NVIDIA