Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege Review
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege Box Art
System: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Dev: Ubisoft Montreal
Pub: Ubisoft
Release: December 1, 2015
Players: Single-player, multiplayer
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080i Blood, Drug Reference, Strong Language, Violence
Work together and siege the day, or fight alone and rage-quit.
by Matthew Hayes

I should probably get something out of the way as quickly as possible: Rainbow Six Siege is an unapologetically hardcore tactical shooter. You need to understand that going in, or you’re not going to enjoy this game. This is not a first-person shooter for people who get their kicks by doing quick, 360-degree no-scopes for the final kill in a Call of Duty match. This is not the multiplayer experience for those who love to charge into an arena with a band of Spartans, guns blazing, jumping from high ledges to ground pound groups of unsuspecting foes. Siege is a game that gives you one precious life to complete an objective, and it demands that you do so methodically and cooperatively.

So far the majority of complaints from those who are still deciding whether or not to purchase this game concern the lack of a single-player campaign. It’s true that Siege is pretty much an exclusively multiplayer, online experience. There are ten “situations,” however, which you can play through offline, and these are specifically designed to be played solo. These situations are designed to introduce players to a handful of operators, and to all of the mechanics that make the multiplayer experience so compelling and complex. Everyone starting out should take the time to work through these - I really can’t stress this enough.

Siege doesn’t try to be all things for all people, though, and when you complete your tenth solo situation an eleventh mission is unlocked that places you in a squad with four other people. It’s as though Ubisoft Montreal designed this just to push the solo players online and into a group, forcing them to communicate and work together. And work together you must if you want to have any hope of completing that last situation. I spent the majority of my night failing, going from squad to squad, until I was finally plugged into a team with mics. Without spoiling anything (it’s incredibly jarring and intimidating the first time you experience it), I’ll just say that the final situation is one wherein it’s almost impossible to know what’s happening around you without constant communication. That people are not yet plugging in their microphones and playing cooperatively is apparent, as at the time of writing this review only 0.8% of PSN players have unlocked the trophy for that mission.

This has been one of my major frustrations so far. If you’re not part of an actively communicating team, you’re not likely to succeed in either of the game’s online modes. Multiplayer (PvP) is an intense, multi-round volley of attack and defense. If you’re on the defending team there’s some kind of objective (a hostage or a bomb) in a room that you’re set with protecting. You’ll do this by quickly analyzing your surroundings and fortifying defenses with traps, barricades, sensors, and surveillance. While building your fortress you’ll be on the lookout for little robotic spy-cams, controlled and used by the enemy in an attempt to see where you are and what you’re doing.

This preparation phase, for both sides, is crucial. All it takes is one Leeroy Jenkins to screw the whole team over, and this can make playing online an infuriating experience. Did I mention that you’ll be spending most of your time on a team? Right, so know this: friendly fire is always active, and you only have one life. Nothing is more deadly or more frustrating than an inexperienced teammate wielding a shotgun, especially defending in tight corners, or stacking behind a shield bearer in an attack. Nothing gives you away faster when preparing to breach a room than that one guy without a mic who sprints through all of the barbed wire outside the door, making a bunch of noise. Sometimes you have a great line of sight through a doorway and right when you decide to start firing a teammate will charge in and catch all of those bullets for you in their back.

Terrorist Hunt (PvE) is a similar operation, only you and four teammates (you can attempt to lone-wolf it if you prefer) are engaging some highly capable enemy AI in a randomly generated scenario. The map, the time of day, and the objective are chosen for you at the beginning of each match, which is something I hope Ubisoft will change in a future patch. It’d be nice to be able to pick specific objectives on certain maps so you and your friends could practice more efficiently. As it is, Terrorist Hunt is still an intense, demanding mode that requires a lucid command of your operator’s equipment and teamwork. Accidental team kills occur just as regularly in PvE as they do in PvP.

I can't stress enough how important communication and teamwork are to success. You have to know who is taking point; you have to know when your teammate it detonating a breach charge; you have to know when to punch a hole in the wall and throw in a smoke grenade so your buddy upstairs can rappel out of a window and bust into the room to draw fire. Without communication multiplayer becomes a drag, and it only takes one rookie or one jerk to ruin the experience for everyone. This makes the game hard to recommend across the board. On the other hand, even the simplest plans, when well-communicated and properly executed, can change the tide of a match in a hugely satisfying way. You’ll stare at the names of squad mates with whom you’ve spent the past hour conquering and think, “Yeah, we could pull this off in real life.”

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