It was with cautious excitement that we approached Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Las Vegas, the latest in the massive console-spanning franchise. Would it be the next Splinter Cell Double Agent, or would Rainbow Six's potential pot of gold prove to be a crock of... rubbish gameplay?
The game starts excitingly, opening in the style of a news channel newsflash (complete with hot female newscaster), breaking the story that terrorists have seized The Dante Casino, taken hostages, and threatening to detonate a bomb if their demands aren't met. It's all very impressive for a 2D mobile game.
Enter Rainbow Six, via a chopper (it's the only way to travel when in you're in this sort of business, y'know).
Your first objective is to secure the rooftop, by disposing of a few guarding terrorists (presumably the less popular ones, what with being lumbered with rooftop duty). You must then infiltrate the premises by – wait for it – abseiling down the side of the building, whilst in turn avoiding the searchlights. The game then slips effortlessly into a sniper's viewpoint, as you assume control of your watching sniper expert to take out the hostage takers one by one.
And all this happens in the first minute or so of playing!
It's a heroic start to the game that has you grinning from ear-to-ear with its variety and boldness. Yet as you go further into Rainbow Six Las Vegas, you begin to realise that, like an inexperienced Vegas showgirl, it may have revealed its tricks a little too prematurely. But more of that later.
When you're not abseiling or sniping, Rainbow Six Las Vegas offers a top-down view of events as you control members of the Rainbow Six counter-terrorist squad doing what they do best (and it isn't counting terrorists).
You manoeuvre the crack team in real time by moving the cursor around the screen and pressing on the desired location, using either the phone's directional joystick or the keypad. It's a smooth and trouble-free system.
Rather than allowing you to take direct control over individual members of the team – so that one can push on while another holds in a covering position, say – here you can only control the group as a complete team. Which is a bit of a shame for gamers wanting a little more of the Rainbow Six ethos to have made it onto mobile, but perhaps inevitable given the current realities of the platform.
Naturally, you'll encounter enemies as you proceed through the rooms, hallways and lobby areas of the casino. Some are hiding behind pictures hanging on the wall (and later on even in manholes). To dispatch them, you can often just unload a few well-placed shots of your machine gun by placing the target over them.
Sometimes, however, you'll need to creep up to your opponents and use your knife to kill them. In fact, there are sections where the hostage will get shot immediately by the patrolling terrorists if you're detected, so your only option is to get handy with your blade and slit the bad guys' throats (Charming! – Ed).
On the same note, before you open doors to enter rooms, you can choose to activate your snake scanner device to see what lies behind the door and plan your method of attack before you enter. If you have any handy, you can lob a grenade (or a 'flashbang') into the room to really kick some terrorist bottom.
Working out the best way to enter rooms, which often have more than one doorway, forms the basis of the gameplay through the early corridor levels of the casino. The frequency of gradually enemies increases, and the introduction of bigger helicopter gun-wielding Schwarzenegger types also serves to up the difficulty curve – quickly, but fairly.
The sniper sections pop up again once or twice more as you progress, and then, having rescued all the hostages and defused their bomb, you eventually make your way onto the streets of Las Vegas as the terrorists retreat for a final showdown.
Here, the emphasis changes as your team is more exposed by the open spaces of the streets and there's less sneaking around required. It's more gun-ho and fast-paced, yet far more difficult.
Presentation-wise there are some eye-catching graphical touches within the game, and the music is used sparingly to create tension.
Rainbow Six Las Vegas plays well, the only drawback, as alluded to earlier, being that it shows all the cards in its hand at the very start. The game struggles to continue this momentum via the main top-down element.
This shouldn't detract you from the big prize, however. This is a well-polished game that does justice to the Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six name. It's certainly worth a go.