TOM CLANCY’S RAINBOW SIX VEGAS 2
(Ubisoft; Xbox 360 and PS 3; Mature)
Everyone hates the words ”To Be Continued…” And it was especially vexing to see them at the end of 2006’s Rainbow Six Vegas because: (1) it was such an outstanding game up right until the cliffhanger cop-out ending; and (2) gamers knew it would take months (if not, years) to get closure, given ever-increasing videogame-development cycles. So here we are back in Vegas, some 16 months after Gabriel — a one-time member of your elite anti-terrorist squad — was exposed as a bad guy (and made his escape). As you would expect from such a quick turnaround, Vegas 2 doesn’t look or feel that much different than its predecessor. In story mode, it’s still you and two fellow soldiers against swarms of mercenaries. The game does manage to work in a few tweaks. This time around, you can use your console’s webcam to paste an image of your mug onto the main character, which adds some incentive to getting through your missions in one piece.
Also improved are the environments, which are more diverse than the first Vegas. Beyond the requisite casino — we’ll never get tired of gunfire atop the metallic din of the slot machines — you’ll also do battle in such unlikely settings as a convention center, a glitzy theater, and a library (where things, understandably, get a bit noisier than usual). We had some issues with the way the computer-controlled terrorists behave. At one moment, they showed uncanny, almost superhuman awareness of where you are, while at other times they were virtually catatonic and allowed us to walk right up and double-tap them in the noggin. And yes, Vegas 2‘s graphics engine is beginning to show its age, especially when compared to the current king of combat first-person shooters, Call of Duty 4. Despite these flaws, the game is still aces in the thrills department: those who make it to the end will finally get their showdown with Gabriel — and a far more definitive ending to their Vegas getaway. B+ — Gary Eng Walk
HOT SHOTS GOLF: OUT OF BOUNDS
(Sony; PlayStation 3; Everyone)
If you like your golf stuffy and realistic, you should probably stop reading this review and continue playing Tiger Woods PGA Tour. If fun and fancy-free is the way you roll on (the greens), then you’ll want to book your next tee time with the latest installent of Sony’s popular franchise, which finally arrives on the PS3. Its cast of doe-eyed golfers is adorable as ever, but the competition can be downright cutthroat, especially when you play against up to 50 players online and log your best rounds on the worldwide leader boards. There’s a new swing option: instead of fixating on a meter bar positioned below your golfer, you must now focus on the club to judge when to stop the backswing and hit ball. We prefer the traditional method, but no matter which one you choose, the series’ signature way of letting you know you’ve hit the ball perfectly — a musical note voice balloon appears; as does an occasional frog icon (so cute!) — remains intact and, thus, all is right in the universe. B+ — GEW