Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas

Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating.

Recommended age: Although this game's violence is less brutal than others in its genre, nor as gratuitously bloody, it's packed with strong language (mainly the f-word), and the hostage situations do deserve a higher rating in regards to their pure intensity--younger teens should look into getting the similar and much milder GRAW instead. So, I recommend this game for ages 17+.

Pros & Cons:
Pertaining to My short list.

This game might not have the best character models or the highest-res texture--they are a bit outdated--but the smooth shadows, clean water effects, detailed particle/explosion effects, steady framerate, brief load times, and it's overall photo-realistic style (opposed to an exaggerated or stylized one) makes up for it; Vegas looks just like Vegas, with grand and stunning views of the city, and well-detailed interiors--it's a stunning game in its own right.

The controls--for all their complexity--are very intuitive, tight and (other than the small lack of a sprint button) feel just right; you'll be dodging from cover to cover, switching weapons, aiming down your site, and commanding your two-man team to take down Tangos in no time. Like previous Rainbow Six games, this is not a run and gunner (you'll get killed very quickly if you try); instead, it focuses on the strategic side, and (most importantly) makes you rely on your two-man team...

You'll navigate the environment slowly and methodically, using your night and thermal-vision for spotting enemies in darker areas; your optical camera for scoping out enemy positions from underneath doors; and your (very helpful) team in conjunction with the excellent cover system (which then switches to a great third-person view) and the customizable weapons (switch scopes, etc.) to flank and defeat them. And because of the equally clever enemy AI (they, too, will try to flank you as they use cover, avoid fire and dodge grenades), it makes for some truly thrilling and empowering gameplay.

On the negative side, the game's narrative is its weakest point, and almost non-existent from a cinematic standpoint; the dialog and the majority of enemy and side-character voice acting isn't very well done and honestly a bit contrived (partly because of excessive profanity, which is not only lazy on the writers' part, but adds nothing to--in fact, detracts from--the overall story); and even though it ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, it's not a particularly interesting one--but fortunately, in this instance, the lack of storyline doesn't take away from the very satisfying gameplay.

Your team may be crucial to successful gameplay, and in most instances perform very well, but they'll still sometimes get in the way; this issue particularly occurs when you tell one teammate to hack a computer while you and the remaining member protect him from waves of the incoming enemies. The problem is, when you send the first man to hack the computer, the other follows, and by the time the enemy arrives, you haven't had enough time to send the unoccupied man to correct cover, resulting in his quick death and (since you don't have his support) your probable death shortly after--they should have given you control over each man.

Which brings me to my next point: this game is very, very difficult, even on the easiest setting (it's definitely not for newbies); you can only take about one burst from enemy weapons, meaning if you make one wrong move (even with well done and much needed regenerative health system), you're dead, and because of the very far and few between checkpoints, this can lead to, most often, quite needless frustration--there should have been a few more checkpoints just for convenience sake.

But overall, this is an excellent first-person shooter, with some truly classic gameplay and plenty of replay value; even after beating the 8-10 hour single-player, there's a full level/checkpoint select, two difficulties (just try playing it in Realistic), a fantastic online multiplayer, and a full co-op campaign mode (splitscreen and online)--if you're a fan of this genre or you've been following this series from the beginning, then you won't be disappointed with this game.

Blood: The blood effects spurt in moderate amounts when you or an enemy is shot. Blood does linger; splatters onto walls, floors and bodies; and there is some static blood smeared on floors and walls throughout. Bodies do linger, and you see many dead, bloodied civilian and terrorist bodies scattered throughout the game. There is no option to turn blood off.

Intense violence: When Logan Keller and his counter terrorist swat team chase Irena Morales and her band of international terrorists to Mexico, she ends up capturing his men and leaving him for dead. Logan tries to save them, but fails, and after escaping, he's called to Las Vegas to head up a newly formed counter terrorist unit, Team Rainbow, in order to stop Irena and her terrorists from taking over the city and--for some reason--its casinos. They soon find out there's something deeper to her plot, and if she's not stopped in time, there's more at stake than just Sin City...

The base gameplay consists of using your intel and digital map to infiltrate buildings from the roof and work your way down (or visa-versa) while taking advantage of the many entrances (rappel down sunroofs, the sides of buildings, take the stairs, etc.), and commanding your two-man team to go, wait, regroup, and switch between Infiltrate mode (return fire only) or the direct Assault mode (shoot on site), in order to dispatch of the terrorists and save hostages; and once in place, you'll have your team take position outside an occupied entrance; use your camera to look under doors and mark priority targets; and after entering, you'll take cover, clear what remains of the enemy--free any present hostages--and move to the next area.

Irena's fully armored (sometimes night-vision equipped) international terrorists are your sole enemy, and you'll be combating them with a variety of handguns, machine guns, submachine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, a swat shield, grenades (flashbang, frag and incendiary), breach charges (which are used to destroy doors) and C4 (set and then detonate from afar). The combat system is hectic and heart-pumpingly intense, with you and your team tearing through dozens of enemies with your varied arsenal; blowing them up with frag grenades, exploding barrels and cars (causing them and nearby debris to fly); setting breach charges to destroy doors and those standing behind them; and throwing flashbang grenades to stun and then shoot when they're disabled.

When shot, enemies will grunt, scream and whimper in pain, quickly slumping to the floor in contorted positions after they die, and because of the realistic representation of the very quick firefights--you and the enemy can only take a few hits before killed, one burst and that's it; the overwhelming odds, three against dozens; the semi-destructable environments (glass shatters; wood breaks away; the casinos' slot machines spark, fall apart and eject chips; bullets imbed themselves in walls, etc.); and the game's chaotic atmosphere (environments are overturned and ruined, filled with dirt, rubble, newly crashed cars, etc.)--the overall combat has a high stakes, life or death feel.

Because of the vast and open environments, encounters with the enemy give a wide sense of insecurity; they'll set ambushes and come in waves (often as one of your teammates is busy hacking a computer or disarming a bomb), trying to get at you from every angle while zipping down from glass ceilings shooting as they go, firing from mounted machine guns and flinging exploding frag, skin searing incendiary and blinding flashbang grenades, as they flank you from every available position. And since you can only take a couple hits, you can't stay out in the open for long; if you do, the screen will begin to blur/red-den while you fade, and your downed team will soon start to call for your help, forcing you to make it through the crossfire and revive them before they die.

Hostage situations are very heavy in nature, with your three-man team being their only hope of survival; the terrorist verbally abuse (they ask those held gunpoint if they want it in the back of the head, or between the eyes so they can see it coming, etc.) and cuss them out as hostages scream for help, beg for their lives and sob uncontrollably. And since you have a limited time to act before they're killed, not only will you have to rush into rooms with little preparation and great haste, but also use the correct methods (flashbang grenades to stun instead of deadly explosives, for instance) to kill the terrorist without harming the hostages, in order to save them from execution on live tv.

The cutscenes contain many large explosions, while panicked civilians dodge gunfire in the streets; there's a few deaths throughout; and a couple scenes show things along the lines of Irena shooting a man in the leg, and beginning to execute people from a live video feed. Concerning younger teens, although this game's tone of violence isn't as brutal as others in its genre, nor as gratuitously bloody, it's packed with language (mainly the f-word), and the hostage situations do deserve a higher rating in regards to their pure intensity--younger age groups should look into getting the very similar and much milder GRAW instead--this game is simply more suited to older teens and adults.

Strong language: There are over four dozen uses of the f-word, over two dozen uses of sh*t, under a dozen uses of hell, b*tch, a**, Christ and Jesus, three or under uses of d*mn, God d*mn, SoB, a**hole and bastard, one use of p*ss and God, and in a few instances, your British teammate uses the--mildy rude--English slang terms bloody and bugger. Other than the main script, after being healed, your men will sometimes say "Christ that hurt!" and enemies will spout the words sh*t, b*tch, SoB, a**, a**hole, and the f-word profusely (d*mn, Jesus and Christ used less frequently) while they fight you, and during their overheard conversations. There is no option to turn language off.

Suggestive themes: There are billboards and tattered magazines (with callgirl ads) scattered about showing busty women in scant tops and bikinis, revealing moderate cleavage; in a couple areas the terrorists holding women at gunpoint will call them b*tches, ask them if they want it, and how they're going to f**k them (in this context, shoot them in the head); and in one area, while a terrorist is sexually taunting the girl he's holding at gunpoint, another tells him to "Stop thinking with your d*ck!"

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