If you haven’t played Rainbow Six: Vegas yet, you need to. If you don’t have an XBox 360 or Playstation 3 yet, you need to buy one just for this game. While most of the hype has been focused on Gears of War, Rainbow Six: Vegas simply blows away any other game on any platform.
There are plenty of reasons why Rainbow Six: Vegas is a great game. Unbelievable graphics — by far the best of any first person shooter. A multitude of online game modes, including several co-op modes as well as the standard deathmatch-type games. An involving and well-structured single player campaign. An arsenal of realistic guns and weapons to choose from, including everything from the Desert Eagle, to the trusty MP5, to tear gas. You can use night vision goggles and riot shields.
All of these add to the feeling that you are playing as a member of an elite government counter-terrorist unit. All of the items in the game feel authentic (at least, as far as I can tell not being in a counter-terrorist unit myself), and are still a blast to play with, especially in the online game modes. And yet, there are all sort of things you would expect as the latest “next generation” game. So while they are wonderful, that is not what will cause you to look at all other first person shooters with disdain.
It’s this: Rainbow Six introduces a completely intuitive and fluid cover system. You can hide behind corners, tables, under window sills, and behind doors. You can lean around (or over) obstacles to fire off a few shots, and get back behind cover before your enemies can get a bead on your position. You won’t notice that you’re doing this throughout the game — it becomes complete second nature after playing for even a few minutes.
But just wait until you play another FPS game. I was eagerly anticipating Call of Duty 3. An otherwise also-wonderful “next-gen” game for the 360. It has a lot of the same elements — great graphics, cool scripted sequences, good AI characters. Yet, my player character refused to take cover behind rocks and buildings. I couldn’t stack up my fellow soldiers near a door when trying to infiltrate an enemy-occupied building, and coordinate a simultaneous raid on the interior.
In short, Rainbow Six has set the bar for new minimum features for any new first person shooters. Taking cover has become as basic a need as jumping in Super Mario Bros. Any game from now on will be sub-par if it doesn’t allow it, and it will leave a sour, cheap taste in your mouth when you play older games from before Rainbow Six: Vegas came out.
So, if you even remotely like first person shooters, go out and play this game as soon (and often) as you can. And also be prepared that you won’t be able to play anything else for a while.