Penn & Teller
Fast action, urgently paced story, and well-designed levels.
Siegfried & Roy
Lack of tactical depth and a quick-save option spoil the fun.
Let’s skip the bad Vegas puns and get down to the sober truth: Rainbow Six Vegas 2 looks and plays like a rehash of last year’s original. Put both action shooters side by side and you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish between them. This doesn’t mean Vegas 2 is terrible—the first game was a righteous shoot-’em-up that melded quick pacing with exciting firefights. The follow-up fleshes out the story and completes the plot lines left unfinished in the last go-round, but it falters from the same tiresome action sequences that are more frustrating than challenging.
As the new protagonist, Bishop, leader of Bravo Team, you embark on a drawn-out terrorist hunt that happens concurrently with the events of the first game. The twist-heavy plot sends you on seven missions, from seizing a biological weapon planted at a monorail station to rescuing hostages trapped in a towering casino. The diverse locales—most are actually off the Vegas Strip—are cleverly designed to accommodate the linear missions, and each includes a mix of large rooms and narrow hallways to allow for both open and close-quarters combat. We also have to give props to the developers for setting a level in the Las Vegas Convention Center, which houses the annual CES technology conference.
Less stellar, though, are the actual firefights, which are essentially glorified shooting galleries. Cowering behind cover keeps you impervious to all harm (even though penetrable surfaces are supposedly a new feature), but exposing your head for more than a few seconds will transform your cabeza into a bullet magnet. It’s also much too easy to send your overly competent teammates storming through maps on a killing spree while you sit back and miss out on all the action. The unbalanced combat is made worse by the inconsistent checkpoint save system, which forced us to rage-quit out of the game on far too many occasions.
Fortunately, multiplayer co-op and deathmatch games are genuinely intense and actually require skill and tactical planning. We felt tremendously satisfied and rewarded after perfectly executing a nail-biting online operation—it’s too bad this feeling never arises in the solo campaign