Of course, there's no point in improving the good guy if you don't beef up the bad guys. We can't say for sure if the enemy AI has improved - every sequel's developer makes that claim, every time - but the enemy is deadlier equipped. Terrorists receive many of the same tools as you do this round, including night vision goggles and ballistic riot shields. Coolest are the enemies with laser aim on their guns; nothing fires up your pulse like seeing a dozen red lines slicing and criss-crossing through the haze in search of your presence.
What else? Bullets can penetrate thin walls, as in GRAW 2. Soldiers can run, as in Call of Duty 4. Difficulty levels now include "casual," so those afraid of one-hit-one-kill shooters may be tempted to give this sequel a tentative try.
Despite the substantive list of changes, however, we do have reservations about Vegas 2. We worry about the settings, for one thing. Experiencing Sin City during the daylight is certainly different, but not necessarily in a good way. Las Vegas at night is sexy and surreal and spectacular; Las Vegas in the harsh reality of sunlight is just kinda dull and dirty. As we fought our way through the first Vegas mission, we couldn't help gazing at the skyline - full of unpowered neon signs - and wonder how it would look in the dark. Coupled with uninspired locations like alleys, sweatshops, libraries and monorail stations, this time change could seriously affect Vegas 2's cool factor.
Finally, we're not sure if all the stuff discussed in the paragraphs above will be enough. During our limited play session, this sequel still felt an awful lot like the first game. With only a bit more than a year between releases, that's understandable, but those seeking true evolution and surprises may be disappointed on March 18.
Then again, GRAW 2 was equally rushed and that sequel ended up being one of the most polished and enjoyable games of 2007. Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is from the same publisher and same Tom Clancy license, so we remain optimistic. And excited.
(Read our multiplayer impressions and see three different match videoshere.)
Feb 26, 2008