E3 06: Rainbow Six looks smokin'

In the fifth game in this strategic first-person shooter, the old commander of Team Rainbow (our man Ding) has received a promotion, leaving you to lead the squad as Logan Keller. We got an early peek at this neon-laced cousin to Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, and, believe us, it wasn't enough.

Taking many of its cues from GRAW, Rainbow Six Vegas is not limited to the first-person view any longer. Now when Logan takes cover, the view will shift to an over-the-shoulder perspective to enable you to get a better lay of the land. This maintains the genuine Special Forces standard operating procedure of OPA (observe, plan and assault), and other tools, like a snake-cam to scope out what lies beyond closed doors, will assist in this as well.

Your teammates follow your lead in almost every situation, so when you affix a sound-suppressor (better known as a silencer), the rest of Team Rainbow will "go quiet" as well. At any point, you can alter the rules of engagement and allow the team to use more blatant measures for executing terrorists like blasting a door with explosives rather than simply kicking it open. The whole concept centers around super-fast and super-efficient, meaning that your objective is to clear rooms in as few milliseconds as possible as a hostages life may hinge on your expediency.

In a Vegas that's been overrun with terrorists, Team Rainbow has no time to fuss with menus, so every choice you make and every briefing conveyed will occur in real-time. You give your squad orders in a way similar to Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, except that your options have been greatly expanded. There are a number of instances where you'll need to get down from high places, so fast-rope descents and rappelling (which you can invert and hang upside-down to better observe the situation you're about to enter) are frequently required.

A huge amount of motion-captured animation has been employed on your teammates, and everything they do carries a weight to it that boosts the realism exponentially - their steps are deliberate and their weight shifts accordingly with every one they take. You can use the snake-cam to tag "tangos" so that the team will focus on them while you attend to more pressing matters (and by "pressing matters," we're usually talking about a terrorist pressing a gun to a hostage's temple).

Essentially, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas appears to be an improved and expanded Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter in a setting that is fresh and detailed. The Vegas location offers incredible opportunities for both amazing lighting effects and mass destruction (although the game is not allowed to destroy actual buildings that exist in real life, they've made some of their own just to detonate entire skyscrapers). Expect to light up Vegas (even more than it already is, if that's even possible) this fall.