It’s been a hell of a long time since the last instalment of the Rainbow Six series, seven years in fact. As a gamer, I’ve had some of my finest hours on previous games like Vegas and Vegas 2; hence I became rather excited at the chance to recreate the magic with what’s usually a proper tactical first person shooter. Gaming has moved on since the glory days, so can Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege stand out amongst a legion of shoot-em-up games currently on the market? Could the more tactical element be the key to success?
Why, of course it can and it is but not without a couple of unfortunate hiccups along the way.
The international counter-terrorism unit, Rainbow, has been reactivated by a woman known only as “Six” (voiced by Angela Bassett – American Horror Story), in order to deter the latest organisation threatening the world – the White Masks. CTUs from around the globe will re-assemble one of the finest task forces ever seen and you’ll take on the role of a recruit, for a short while at least.
That’s the be all and end all for anything story-wise from Rainbow Six Siege; as you can tell there’s not an awful lot to it. There doesn’t need to be though when it’s lacking a standard campaign mode, as instead it offers a selection of ‘Situations’ to have a go at in a sort of long, drawn out tutorial section. These range from extracting hostages to disarming bombs in areas which are heavily fortified to keep people like myself out. Fortunately, this is where some of the new features of R6 Siege are incredibly helpful for succeeding.
Destructible environments are great for creating new viewpoints or passageways, whether that’s by using bullets or explosives. Breaching walls, doors and floors will become second nature by placing your limited supply of charges to any place that you want to get through in a hurry. This isn’t Call of Duty though, there’s no slow-motion moment to aid your approach after the blast; you have to be fast and furious to take down enemies that could be standing by.
Although the eleven ‘Situations’ included are a decent way to get to grips with the game and do offer replayability due to the three stars that can be earned on each one, they are bloody difficult to complete on your own. So, after a few missions I decided it was time to find a couple of teammates by venturing into the online multiplayer modes – “Multiplayer” and “Terrorist Hunt”.
“Multiplayer” gives the option of a Casual or Ranked playlist, with each consisting of 5 versus 5 team based matches where one team attacks and the other defends, switching after each round. The only real difference between the two playlists being that Ranked is geared more towards the hardcore players and requires you to be of a high clearance level to participate. The playlists will randomly take you through the three sub-game modes involving hostages, bombs and securing specific areas. It doesn’t sound like there are many options to keep proceedings exciting, however when the other variables such as the ten maps included and having fresh opponents or team mates are taken into account, a constantly evolving strategic situation is present throughout, thus ensuring that boredom never rears its ugly head.
At the start of matches, whoever is attacking will assess the location and situation using remote control cars, whilst the defenders prepare to fortify their position with barricades and a limited amount of wall or floor reinforcements. Choosing the best approach to succeed is a task within itself and often the tables can turn with a clever off-the-cuff moment. Everyone has just the one life across all the game modes and so, there’s no chance of a do-over if you rush in like a headless chicken. The whole thing is just a tactical masterclass if I’m being honest, where working as a team and outthinking the human opposition is incredibly satisfying.
There’s also an option to create your own custom playlist with customisable settings but considering the fact that it doesn’t allow you to earn XP or the game’s currency, Renown, I don’t see much point in this unless you’ve got a large group of friends to cater for online and you’re the host.
For times when outsmarting actual people just becomes too tasking on the brain, the A.I. will happily be the next set of targets in ‘Terrorist Hunt’. Depending on how brave you’re feeling you can take on bots, with three different difficulty settings, on your own or with up to four teammates. This mode may get you to clear out a set number of terrorists from an area, disarm a bomb or possibly extract a hostage from a volatile environment. The A.I. are crafty though as there will be traps aplenty and some rather sneaky movements to catch you off guard, reacting to your every move.
Well designed maps can be an important factor for any game to prolong enjoyment and fortunately for Siege, all those incorporated here have their own identity, each exerting its own greatness. The map layouts provide multiple entry points, floors and a whole host of rooms ready to be destroyed. Prepare to infiltrate a Presidential plane, a Chalet in a remote location, the CTU training grounds in Hereford and my personal favourite, a top quality café in Moscow that’s gotten a Christmassy makeover. I’m still finding new ways to breach the enemy strongholds and when defending, there are a vast amount of vantage points to discover.
Getting into a multiplayer session of any kind is a swift process; the longest I’ve had to wait was about a minute. It’s all sounding too good to be true isn’t it? Sadly, the problems come with regards to staying in the matches due to the ridiculously erratic servers. Far too often it has disconnected and then connected me from the servers upon the launch of the main menu, an annoyance which carries over into the online gameplay. If Siege actually lets you stay in a match, then there’s a good chance that some of your teammates will disappear; leaving you having to take on the assault or defensive task all by yourself, like an early 90s action film star who goes it alone…but the difference being in this one the bullets will hit you and you will die, quickly. It’s really disappointing that such issues are present, even after a patch and this really puts a dampener on the whole thing.
I mentioned ‘Renown’ earlier which is earned via taking part, and doing well, in matches or Situations, to then be used on unlocking Operators from some of the world’s finest CTUs. Whether you want to unlock SAS operative, Sledge, who brings a massive sledgehammer to knock down barricades and walls or the more defensive minded Spetznaz operative, Kapkan, equipped with booby traps for floors and windows, the choice is yours once you have enough currency.
There’s a large selection of Operators to unlock, twenty in fact, and each have their own cinematic cutscene upon purchasing which gives a bit of character to these unknowns. Some of the equipment/gadgets are brilliant and only come with specific operatives; these are things like exo-thermic breach charges, surveillances cameras and a cluster charge which sends frag grenades burrowing through walls and floors to explode on the other side.
Only one person in a team can be a certain Operator, which is a shame because those with limited choice early on will have to use a generic recruit. These can be pretty decent though if you choose a loadout to suit your style. Equipment is a little less exciting in the form of barbed wire or regular breach charges but with a solid team around you it’ll be just as much fun.
This isn’t Call of Duty, nor is it Battlefield, and that’s the biggest compliment I can give Rainbow Six Siege because it sticks out of the shooter pack with its own identity. There will be great moments of tactical brilliance, game changing manoeuvres and every single match will feel fresh and exciting. With a load of destruction, awesome weapons, crazy but realistic gadgets and a true focus of teamwork, it’s a really marvellous experience. If it wasn’t for the servers, the gamers without mics and the lone soldiers who exploit the presence of friendly fire, then Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege could’ve been my Game of the Year.
Considering Rainbow Six Siege looks as though it’s lacking in content, you’ll not notice it when every match is different for a number of reasons. To keep it entertaining, Siege should be an instant purchase for fans of teamwork, however if you are less sociable and prefer to go it alone, please stay on any other shooting game.