Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas [PSP] PSP

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas [PSP] PSP
Genres are wonderful things. For experienced players, they quickly set up the framework for a game’s story and play, and commonalities for players to quickly learn controls and jump into the heart of the action. They also define the typical techniques for creating excitement and storytelling. Unfortunately, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas (at least the PSP version) ties itself so tightly to the first-person shooter genre that it leaves itself little room for distinction.

The game begins at a ranch that could be called "terror cell, anywheresville,” although if the luminous dust bowl cinematics at the beginning are to be trusted, we’re in Vegas. Except for a few slot machines, the nearly indestructible environments of the bulk of the levels could be the dungeons of doom.

It’s 2010 and an American, a Brit and a Canadian (who doesn’t shoot, of course) find themselves chasing some random foreigner who’s concocting biological weapons and has kidnapped some of your Rainbow team-mates (is it just me or does that sound strange for a FPS?). Your job is to bounce back and fourth between the infantry gringo and the "cheerio” sniper to kill as many men wearing ski masks in the middle of the desert heat as possible.

A few flaws exist in the game’s operation outside of the story. One being that the game designers have used the x, o, square and triangle buttons in place of a second analogue joystick. The one joystick set-up is an obvious shortcoming of the PSP system but by assigning aiming functions to those buttons, the game designers have chosen an awkward and imprecise control set-up.

Not content to penalise players with control issues, the most difficult rescue stages of the game can only be saved about ten kills ahead of the arduous areas. So, expect to be repeating the same set of easy tasks over and over to get into a position to save your partner and once you’re there, don’t expect a meter of how much life he has left.

The only variance in the genre formula is a tool that would get a Southern senator salivating for war. A snake camera allows the user to peer under doors and "tag” enemies on the other side. Once the camera is put away, tagged enemies are seen on the other side of the door as icons that grow and shrink as they move.

Rounding out this game is a multiplayer feature where you can pick an environment and join up to four other players online in a "get killed... wait... come back to life” game of "how many frags can you get before the time expires?” This feature, like the game, plays out as middle of the road. (Ubisoft)