Rainbow Six: Siege
Two teams square off to blast through terrain in one of the best cerebral online shooters of 2015.
December 1, 2015
Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: First Person Shooter
Though he passed only two years ago, Tom Clancy has left a legacy throughout our culture—books, movies, and video games. In the video game world, his name has become synonymous with tactical warfare and espionage. When I first heard tale of a new entry to his beloved Rainbow Six franchise, I knew I had to check it out.
After seeing an exciting series of trailers showcasing their advanced material engine and breaching mechanics, my hype only grew. Beta access left me with a shaky sense of doubt, though. Would this become another Evolve, doomed to die out only weeks after its launch? Now that I’ve spent a couple dozen hours with the game, I feel like I can definitively say Rainbow Six has once again earned its place in the modern shooter space.
Not surprisingly, Siege is devoid of any allusions to the spiritual or supernatural.
The violence in Siege is its primary detractor to younger audiences. As with most Tom Clancy titles, the world is kept as lifelike as possible and, in this case, that also means deaths can be pretty gruesome. Blood spatters from gunshot wounds can spread across entire walls. When characters die, their lifeless bodies ragdoll realistically. If an explosion takes someone out, they’re thrown across the room in a crumpled heap.
To its credit, there is no viscera in the game. Bodies aren’t maimed or mutilated and, apart from the blood spatters, there isn’t really any guts or gore to be concerned with. If you’ve played a Call of Duty game, you’ll more than likely feel perfectly comfortable with the level of violence in this game.
Given its penchant for real-life scenarios, Rainbow Six typically avoids any reason for crude humor to ever enter the mix. That same focus lends itself heavily to intense language, though. Characters, clearly under the duress of intense combat situations, often use profanity in their call outs. This includes everything up to the f*** word, so keep that in mind when considering this game for others.
One level in the game is a biker bar with a strip club. There are no NPCs but the walls have suggestive posters (that aren’t revealing). Still, it is a bar so don’t be surprised to see a few beer bottles lying around. Some of the levels also feature bags of cocaine and the like on tables (though you’d really have to take a moment away from the action of the game to notice it).
The Rainbow Six games have always portrayed a sense of righteousness to me. Team Rainbow is made up of an elite team of operatives from all around the world and their missions are carried out to eliminate the world’s most heinous evils. Before SEAL Team 6 carried out their famous mission, those same righteous qualities were portrayed to me in team Rainbow Six.
Siege has three different gameplay modes: Situations, Terrorist Hunt, and the most substantial, Multiplayer. Given its primary focus as the game’s go-to mode, I’ll discuss it first.
Multiplayer is set up as a 5-on-5 attack-and-defend game mode. Teams take turns alternating between attack and defense each round, and the first team to win 3 rounds takes the match. At the beginning of a round, defenders are placed in a random room on the stage with an objective to protect. They’re given 30 seconds to erect barricades, reinforce walls, and install traps. As they prepare, the attacking team is given drones to scout the level, mark enemy locations, a find their objective.
After that initial phase, weapons are hot and it becomes a tactical game of cat and mouse. Attackers can scale the sides of buildings, blowing holes in doors, windows, walls, and more. Few hiding spots are truly safe in the world of Siege, and that’s a big part of what makes the game so magical. There are genuinely very few things in modern multiplayer games as satisfying as breaching a wall in concert with two teammates, storming a room and claiming victory (or watching it slip from your grasp) in a coordinated effort.
The wide variety of playable characters adds a delicious twist to an already delectable offering. They have to be unlocked, but you can do so in any order you choose. There are five countries that offer two offensive and two defensive operatives each, bringing the total up to 20 playable characters (with another 8 set to come out as DLC). They all have unique abilities and no duplicates can exist, so everyone is contributing something to the team. Whether it’s Blitz with his strobe shield that blinds enemies, Ash and her long-distance breaching charges, or Kapkan with his laser tripwires, every member of Team Rainbow brings something fun to the table. Folks who have a favorite can even invest some of their career earnings to buy firearm upgrades and skins.
Ah, the currency system. Therein lies my primary complaint with Siege. If you’re playing multiplayer with any consistency, you’ll be able to unlock new operatives at a fairly regular clip. Siege features real-money transactions, however, that will let you buy experience/currency boosters and more. They offer several boosters that last from 1 to 30 days of real time. Take note of that: if you buy into these boosters, you’ll literally be losing money if you’re not playing the game for any period. Buy a 1 day booster and sleep for 8 hours? 1/3 of your value is gone. At first, it felt more egregious to me than it really is, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
While we’re discussing issues I have with the game, let’s talk about the lack of a campaign and, in its stead, the Situations game mode. I appreciate what Ubisoft was trying to do with Situations. They offer a variety of, well, “situations” where you’ll have to perform a certain task to pass. Some of these put you in the shoes of various operatives you’ll play in multiplayer, but several just have you as a normal operative. At the very least, it would’ve been cool to see a situation for each operative so players could get a single-player feel for each character before dropping their earned cash for them in-game. On top of that, why did they fail to create a campaign!? Tom Clancy is easily one of the greatest writers of his day. I believe he would be ashamed to see that they couldn’t create a cohesive narrative to take Team Rainbow through, and that feels like a real shame since I like these Rainbow operatives more than any in past games.
Straight out of the gate, players (on consoles, anyway) will notice that the visual fidelity has taken a pretty hard hit. This definitely doesn’t look like your classic 1080p HD next-gen game when you’re standing still. It’s surprising to me, then, that once the action kicks off and you see everything in motion, that lack of fidelity seems to fade away. As wood splinters and glass shards rain by from an explosive entrance, everything else takes a back seat. It’s clear to see where the visual firepower is being directed—it just would have been nice to see it in both places. (PC fans will be happy to hear they’ve just released a high-resolution texture pack for free as well). Beyond the barebones game essentials, character models look great. Each of them ooze a sense of coolness. These guys and gals are the Mavericks in their worlds and they know it.
I’m torn on the game’s audio design. The soundtrack has no highpoints to set it apart. Not one track stood out. Gameplay sounds however, are surreal. Siege‘s atmospheric audio is fantastic. It’s downright haunting to hear explosives and footsteps around you as you defend a location. You just know they’re coming for you. The in-game callouts feel spot on too. My one complaint there is the use of profanity some of the characters exhibit.
Rainbow Six Siege isn’t the greatest looking game on the market and Ubisoft has made a few missteps in its design, but the more time I spend blowing up walls and dropping tangos, the more addicted I became. It’s been years since a game came out I didn’t mind teaming up with random players for and everyone’s willing to work together and discuss strategy.
It may lack the scale of Battlefront and fail to capture the ADHD-prone Call of Duty fanbase, but Siege will handily satisfy gamers wanting a more cerebral multiplayer shooter experience. Its launch price may feel a little steep to some and the lack of a narrative campaign hurts, but I encourage tactical shooter fans everywhere to give it a good, hard look. Siege is a fun, dynamic multiplayer experience worthy of some attention.
+ Variety of playable characters
+ Physics engine makes for some astounding moments
+ Gameplay encourages coordination
- No campaign
- Graphics have taken a hard hit
- Real money transactions and experience boosters