Rainbow Six on consoles had been around for a few years when Vegas launched in 2006. Rainbow Six 3 on the original Xbox made a 2 year old PC release controller compatible and added online multiplayer. It found an audience in late 2003 and it was my first taste of Xbox Live’s competitive multiplayer. But, despite excellent reviews, the series never really grabbed me until Vegas.
Halo et al. had taught console gamers that if you strafed and moved quickly enough you’d come out on top against any foe. Rainbow Six reminded players that there was another way. Slow, methodical movements were rewarded (by not dying!) Left trigger to pin to cover was almost a brand new idea at the time and it certainly hadn’t been done as well as this yet. A first person shooter by design, the cover system gave you a much needed view of your surroundings in third person allowing you to use your reticule to pick a target from safety, pop out, stick a quick silenced double-tap in your unlucky adversary’s head and then slink back to your hole cool and ghost-like.
The scene for the single player story was set in Mexico. Your team uncover a terrorist plot to target America’s capitalist heart: Las Vegas. It wasn’t completely original as an idea but it was very well put together and the action was intense dragging you from a realistically modelled Bellagio Casino on the strip, out to a showdown at the Hoover Dam. Weapons hit hard on both sides and if you were ever caught in the open it was almost certainly curtains.
The frantic, visceral action relayed wonderfully to multiplayer. Four players could team up to complete the single player campaign and the usual plethora of modes made up a more than solid PVP package. But Terrorist Hunt stole the show for me. You versus 50 enemy combatants in any number of locations and levels from the game proper. One life only or back to the beginning. Enemies were procedurally placed so it wasn’t just a case of learn and repeat until you got it right. It was a mode fraught with tension. Add all of these things together than Rainbow Six: Vegas remains one of the finest experiences to grace the Xbox 360; not even beaten by it’s sequel in the years that followed.
Go on, tell me I’m wrong! In the comments that is.