It’s been seven long years since the last Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six entry graced home consoles with 2008’s well-received Rainbow Six Vegas 2. An entirely new generation of consoles has entered the scene in the meantime. But Ubisoft believes they have revitalized the series with its latest entry, Rainbow Six Siege.
We might as well get this out of the way now – Siege sports no single-player campaign. This is a first for the Rainbow Six series. What lies in place of the traditional campaign is a collection of “Scenarios.” Each of these ten missions tasks you with completing a certain objective that’s similar to what you will face in multiplayer sessions. These Scenarios are tough, even on normal difficulty. Now, sure, there’s no story to be had, but these Scenarios serve as tense training missions to get you ready for the full game. They’re rewarding to finish, the difficulty being what it is. Levels are also intricately detailed, with numerous paths to take and many areas to explore, especially via RC camera.
All of those different areas also feature strategically destructible environments. The amount of destructibility is nothing like Battlefield: Bad Company 2, but then again I don’t think anything will match that game’s level of destruction for a while, just due to the utility of such a mechanic. Strategic destructibility means that the environment is destructible only in certain spots, and will be tougher to destroy if the enemy has reinforced an area. Graphics in Rainbow Six Siege are adequate, if a little blurry up close.
Audio, however, is where Siege really shines. You don’t really stop to think about it, but knowing where your enemy is, is half the battle, and hearing where they are coming from can mean the difference between gaining a kill or being taken out. Playing on a 7.1 surround sound system, it appears that a lot of work has gone into the audio system of the AnvilNext game engine. Granted, not everyone will be playing on a surround sound system, but I can safely say that those who do will be at a significant advantage over those who play on headphones or straight out of a television’s speakers. If you’re fired upon, you can hear instantly where the bullets are coming from. Assuming the enemy misses you, you can hear the round whiz past your head and land in an obstacle behind you. To top it off, enemies and friendlies alike shuffle their feet, talk, shout, groan and grunt all around you. It all adds to create a realistic sense of space, and adds to the tension of any firefight.
Sadly, there are only a handful of firefights to choose from in Siege. Two main modes exist for multiplayer options. There’s the competitive Multiplayer modes, and the co-operative Terrorist Hunt modes. Each of the main modes earn you XP and renown (in-game currency), but they do not allow you to pick the game type. You can set preferences in the options menu as to which modes you want to see the most, but you have no direct influence over what you’ll see. Sure, after reaching level 20 you can create custom games, but you do not earn anything for your time as they are then not official rounds.
No matter which mode you pick, the maximum number of players in a match is limited to 10 in a 5v5 lineup. You only get one life, so you need to make it count. Explosions and headshots will take you down instantly, but if you are incapacitated due to suffering heavy, repeated damage, then you do have a brief minute or so in which a teammate can revive you to half of your health. Of course, that teammate leaves themselves exposed during the revival animation. As with most things in Rainbow Six Siege, you have to weigh the benefits against the hazards.
Throughout the course of your time with Rainbow Six Siege, you’ll earn XP and renown as mentioned before. You use that renown to unlock new operators from various real-world Counter-Terrorism Units, or CTUs. Each operator comes with a few choices of weapons, but also a unique gadget, such as a shield, deployable defenses, a scoped weapon, or something else meant to give you an edge over your enemies somehow. Unlocking one operator plays an intro video for that character, some more elaborate than others. All cinematics are of high graphical quality, and some are even voiced. Those voiced mini-cinematics give a hint at what could have been a top-notch campaign, but then again a good story is harder to write than most people give it credit for.
One thing that remained consistent throughout the game, through no real action on the developer’s part, is that players actually worked as a team. I think this boils down to the fact that only a particular type of gamer buys Rainbow Six games. Just mentioning Rainbow Six to hardcore Call of Duty “bros” will likely cause them to roll their eyes, because it just isn’t their thing. Although my hours with the game don’t number in the hundreds yet, I didn’t encounter gaming trolls. Most players didn’t have headsets, though, which probably helped to mitigate that. Yet, those that did used it sparingly, mostly for tactics. There was the very occasional tea-bagging, but that was definitely a rare occurrence. It seems that Rainbow Six gamers are a more mature bunch, and for that I applaud you all.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege serves as a breath of fresh air against an overwhelming fog of twitch shooters. The drop of a traditional campaign is not reflected in the price, and yet the new Scenarios are just as tough as any campaign in previous entries, and easily as rewarding. Focusing on specialized operators feels right at home in a Rainbow Six game. Combat is solid, and rewards team play over lone wolf tactics. Rainbow Six is back, and ready to challenge today’s gamers.
Review code for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.