After two visits to Vegas under siege, it seemed as if Rainbow Six would focus on homegrown Patriots next. However, that apparently wasn’t in the cards, as Rainbow Six: Patriots faded into nothingness after being cancelled in favour of Rainbow Six: Siege, which has just breached its way onto store shelves.
Instead of offering a core single player campaign in addition to a multiplayer suite, Rainbow Six: Siege is almost all about multiplayer. Well, that and teamwork, because it is, after all, a tactical shooter. That doesn’t mean that those who love to go about things alone (like myself) were left out of the equation, though, because there are ten different situations that you get to play through solo. Sure, they’re there to get you ready for the multiplayer, but they’re more robust than what you normally get with an online-focused game, with Titanfall‘s ‘missions’ being an example of a less interesting approach.
Although they generally only last several minutes, some of the tougher situations may have you trying different tactics in order to beat the AI. I spent a few hours or more with them, and then ventured into the eleventh one; that being an unlockable operation that is restricted to cooperative play with other people. It’s the most story-oriented facet of the entire experience, too, as it pits the operatives against an unknown sect of terrorists who’ve taken to unleashing a strange biological weapon on one of America’s most historical college campuses.
You may feel differently, but I treated the eleven situations as a campaign of sorts. That’s because the missions didn’t feel like tutorials, and were more fleshed out and polished than what anyone will really expect. Each one is different, too, placing you into a new location and offering a varied challenge, be it rescuing a hostage, protecting one or taking out a set number of baddies. Bombs are the focus in the latter situation, and defusing them is a tense and challenging proposition.
Another reason why the situations exist is to show how different operators — from different agencies like the FBI and Spetsnaz — offer different play styles. Rainbow Six: Siege is, at its core, separated into attack and defend scenarios, and you can purchase unique operators for each situation. They all have special names and badass intro videos, but the main draws are their unique stats, weapons and abilities. One may have the highest possible armor rating but the lowest speed rating, and carry a hulking shield. Conversely, another will be faster but weaker and have another special item. Examples include grenades that can take out rows of planted explosives, a deployable shield and turret, a heartbeat sensor and cluster charges that can be placed on walls.
That said, many will find that the most important items and abilities are those that can be used to breach fortified walls. As each game is separated into a few different rounds, with one team attacking and the other defending during each, you’re almost always trying to get in somewhere or keep enemies out of somewhere. The defenders get the task of fortifying their position with wooden barricades, which can be smashed via a few melee attacks, shot to shit or blown into smithereens, and can also use a limited supply of metallic walls. Those are much more difficult to get through, because they require a special tool that cuts through them, and that happens to be one of the operatives’ specialties.
Then again, as everyone who’s been following this game has seen, Rainbow Six: Siege doesn’t limit its players to just one approach. Wood, drywalled and stuccoed walls can be shot through, and holes can be made using explosives or even your hands. The general idea is that the attackers can come from anywhere, and it’s tough to protect all of your weaknesses.
Players also have other tools at their disposal, including the expected arsenal of flashbangs and explosive hand grenades, in addition to tiny, wheeled drones that carry cameras. They look like two-pound weights, and are used to locate where the match’s target — be it a bomb, a chemical weapon or a hostage — happens to be. Obviously, they’re not always in the same place each time you visit a map.
Cameras have other abilities, and can tag enemies’ locations, but it’s tough to do. People know to look for them, and even the AI will notice the things and take them out pretty quickly. Siege may not have the greatest artificial intelligence in the world, but it’s certainly above average most of the time, and enemies will flank you intelligently if you’re not careful. I mostly played on normal, but then switched and noticed how much more difficult things were on realistic.
Matches regularly boil down to strategic cat and mouse, or bullet-filled games of chess, which isn’t a bad thing but may turn off fans of faster-paced shooters. Both teams are only made up of several players, too, so it’s not as if there’s an opportunity for running and gunning in multiplayer. Go a bit crazy in the situations if you’d like, but it likely won’t get you very far.
Obviously, those who work together in a team that they trust, and communicate well, will have the upper hand here. Rainbow Six: Siege is as methodical as ever, and people will get great at it if they make a point to play with friends regularly.
Approximately ten different maps are included within the base game, although more are planned as free DLC over the next year or more, as Ubisoft has promised that Siege will be a platform with paywall-free DLC comprised of new modes, maps and operators. So far, the list of environments features an upscale house, a Christmas-themed consulate, a destitute presidential plane and a snow-covered ski chalet, to name a few. For the most part, they’re all rather solid, with lots of different ways to get in and out, including doors, windows and basements. Keep in mind that rappelling is always an option as well, so rooftop invasions should be considered.
Now that I’ve talked about the multiplayer and (mostly) single player situations, it’s important to note that the fan favourite Terrorist Hunt mode is also included as one of Rainbow Six: Siege‘s three options. Playable in a team of several operatives or by one’s lonesome, these randomized ops task you with either attacking and taking out upwards of 30 enemies, or defending against waves of the assholes. It’s pretty good overall, and mixes the other modes’ mechanics relatively well.
Although Siege is intricately crafted, it’s not perfect or superb. The gameplay is quite polished and realistic, but it gets repetitive despite allowing for different approaches. As others have said in their reviews, you see what the game has to offer pretty quickly and will either like it or be bored by it.
Things aren’t all roses in performance land, though, as Ubisoft’s latest AAA title suffers from some unfortunate technical problems. I reviewed this game on Xbox One, and had server issues right from the get-go, when I started playing it close to release. The first time I booted it up, I was met with a server error, but was able to log on immediately afterwards. Those appeared a few times, though, and I got kicked twice this very morning. I was merely playing Terrorist Hunt by myself the first time it happened, and had to go back to the main menu as a result of the server’s connection loss. Thankfully, I’d just started.
Screen tearing is also a problem, although I can’t say that I saw it much. It also didn’t last for long, which is a good thing, as outside of that Rainbow Six: Siege is a pretty crisp-looking game. It’s not going to win awards for having the most stunning, shiny or unbelievably great graphics of 2015, but it looks polished and has a clean visual style. It’s realistic-looking, has some impressive explosions, complete with debris from walls and ceilings, and reminds me of an enhanced version of Rainbow Six: Vegas.
The audio is top notch, too, and there’s some solid voice acting in the cutscenes that accompany the situations. Explosions, gunfire and destruction rain throughout the maps and it’s easy to identify which location it’s all coming from. It’s all very raucous and realistic-sounding, too.
At the end of the day, Rainbow Six: Siege is a relatively polished, intelligently-made and meritable team shooter. It’s still a bit rough around the edges, though, and isn’t a stranger to repetition, both of which hold it back from being great. It also feels a bit light in the loafers right now, but thankfully, there’s lots of free DLC coming as per Ubisoft’s plan.
This review is based on the physical Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.
Rainbow Six: Siege is an intelligent and quality shooter that allows for varied approaches. It is, however, unfortunately held back by repetition, server issues and a noticeable lack of variety. Fans of the genre should definitely look into it, and be mindful of the fact that lots of free DLC is planned, but not everyone will fall in love with its design.