Imagine yourself sliding down the side of a building, neon lights guiding you down until you and your team find yourselves above a window. Peering inside you see a man running in terror down a hallway as two men in ski masks gun him down with assault rifles. Angry, you tell one of your team mates that he is to kill the terrorist on the right, and your other buddy to kill the one on the left. You give the order to breach in, pushing about 10 feet off the side of the building, and crashing your way through the window and shooting both men on your way in. Your people yell "CLEAR!" before the glass even settles.
That scenerio is what makes Rainbow Six Vegas so great. This is the type of game that combines Hollywood thrills with tatical action and does it well. You definitely have to look before you leap, but when a fight breaks out, you have to think on your feet and act decisively. To help you out two team mates tag along to order around and are pretty good at watching your back, make good use of cover and are pretty good shots. Orders mostly revolve around doors, but range from "move here" to "use rope" and is initiated with a simple press of the "A" button. Once your team is in position, a menu pops up in the lower left half of the screen and is mapped to the D-pad. Orders are context sensitive, and it's pretty easy to figure out.
There is no running and gunning in this game, but fortunately you're given a large set of tools to help you survive, from a very simple to use cover system (just find something to hide behind and pull the left trigger) to thermal vision, flashbangs, frags, C4, breaching charges, ect ect, You'll quickly learn what gadgets are used for what, but ultimately it all depends on your style. Another thing that will help you is the recharging health system. Take a hit, your screen will blur and get darker, telling you that your being hurt. Take it easy for a second and you'll recover, but don't think that this is Halo. It only takes one or two bullets to hit you in the right spot and your dead, and the screen blur and darkening makes it very hard to retaliate. If your out in the open and someone is shooting at you, there's a good chance you'll be looking at the floor in no time.
One of the really cool things about this game is the customization. Ubisoft does a great job of making your equipment "yours". All of your rather large arsenal of weapons, ranging from shotguns, pistols, LMGs, assault rifles, subs and snipers and even a bulletproof shield are customizable to fit whatever suites you. The only thing missing is a grenade launcher, but in this game's tight spaces, you would kill yourself with it anyway. Each weapon category has 4-8 weapons in it, so there is plenty there to choose from. Another customizable feature in multiplayer is your armor, choosing from light medium and heavy armor pieces. I say pieces because you can mix and match as you please to fit your style. Be careful though, the heavier the armor, the slower you'll move.
Speaking of multiplayer, Rainbow Six Vegas is one of the best experiences I've had in years. It does have a steep learning curve, but if you have any knowledge of FPS tactics, you'll pick up on it easily enough. The fact that you could die in a split second really contributes to a sense of danger and you'll learn to check and area before moving in. The maps are varied and very well balanced. Every rooftop, every hallway and every room have multiple entry points so there is really no place that you can barricade yourself in and force the other players into a bottle-neck. In fact, barricading yourself anywhere would be a bad idea anyway as you would be frag-bait.
All in all Ubisoft has created an experience that you won't soon forget. Intense firefights, customized gear and equipment can turn the tide. It can be frustrating if you've never played a tactical FPS, but if you stick with it you'll soon be feeling like a total badass crashing through windows dropping terrorists before they knew what hit them.