Tom Clancy’s original video game franchise gets the new-gen shine after a seven-year break. Rainbow Six: Siege sees the international black ops division getting involved in some, unfortunately, all-too familiar anti-terrorism operations.
But, instead of a topical single-player campaign to whet our appetite for the game’s finely-honed multiplayer experience, Rainbow Six: Siege opts to throw the player straight into the latter.
Shipping Rainbow Six: Siege without a proper single-player component would have been unheard of a decade ago. And it really should not be acceptable now. The Rainbow Six franchise started out as a narrative endeavour by the series originator, Tom Clancy, to omit it in this latest game is very questionable.
Rainbow Six: Siege deserves, in my opinion, the same criticisms that have been levelled at Star Wars Battlefront and, sort-of, at the recent Battlefield games. Whilst traditionally Battlefront and Battlefield didn’t have a single-player game, justifying its absence in Battlefront, and somewhat defending its perceived lack-lustre experience in Battlefield, up until now Rainbow Six games have previously been primarily single-player affairs with a multiplayer element.
For me the single-player campaign, even in a game that I’m going to play many more hours in multiplayer than I am in the six-hour single-player game, provides the multiplayer mode with some context. The multiplayer Levels should (in my eyes, anyway), be seen as an extension of the single-player narrative. Without some sort of grounding, the game becomes nothing but a murder simulator whereby two teams attack each other for no reason except to win the game.
Putting Rainbow Six into perspective, we have two groups, the Rainbows – a crack team made up of international special ops members from the British SAS to the CIA, vs. an unnamed group of terrorists. Both used the same methods and have the same goals depending on whether they are attacking or defending.
Considering the deceased author and series creator, Tom Clancy’s well-published right-wing views, you can bet your arse that the fictional Rainbows would, right about now, be going up against jihadist terrorists. Of course, in the same way that Call of Duty is ducking out of portraying politically-incorrect real-life conflicts by going all sci-fi, Ubisoft have chosen to leave out any plausible narrative explaining the actions of their commando team, probably to avoid offense.
So that leaves us with Rainbow Six: Siege, a game where two teams of indeterminate morality seek to dispatch the other, usually with some poor sod tied up in the middle of it all. I really wish that Ubisoft had been brave enough to craft an intelligent accompanying narrative and be damned if it offended the gun-toting right or the apologetics of the left.
But, I’ll leave that dilemma with you as you play the game.
Whilst the game is 100% intended to be played multiplayer, it ships with a variety of different situations designed to get players up to speed on the gameplay. In these situations, the player is a solo anti-terrorist operative facing off against a full squad of opponents. It’s a great intro to the game dynamics, allowing players to use or break down barricades, locate targets and mark enemies. The gameplay is a little one-sided, though (in the enemies’ favour), and doesn’t include any of the team-play elements that are the hallmark of the Rainbow Six series.
The game does include the series’ Terrorist Hunt mode, which can be played as a lone wolf or co-op multiplayer. This mode sees Raindow Six operatives taking out a number of terrorist across the game’s selection of maps.
The game ships with eleven maps which can be played day or night. There is also a number of different scenarios that can be played across the included maps, ranging from a hostage rescue to defusing a bomb. Add this to playing both attacking and defending sides of each scenario and you’ll find that the game offers a surprising amount of variety. Also, the maps are very detailed (which you’d expect considering they only needed to design eleven of them), allowing for a nigh on infinite number of different tactical assaults.
Visually, Rainbow Six: Siege looks very nice, but not as good as I’d have expected for a game launched at the end of 2015. As detailed as they are, the graphics seem very flat, like the lighting is off or something. Still, considering the amount of detail on the screen, the framerate holds up well, suggesting a likely quality/performance trade-off.
The big deal with this particular outing is the destructible environments. Timber floors and ceiling can be shot through creating line-of-sight and targeting opportunities. Timber wall and shutters can be totally destroyed. Curiously, the terrorists have removed what were probably solid doors and replaced them with shutters that require three knocks to shatter.
Rainbow Six: Siege can be a beautiful thing when played as intended, as a close-nit highly strategic team close-quarters combat simulator. Unfortunately, unless you have a group of friends readily available to play with you at all times, your actual experience is going to be slightly chaotic. It only takes one lone wolf to upset the team balance that Ubisoft have clearly spent considerable time honing.
Players can choose to play as a generic recruit or one of the unlockable operatives. A good selection of team members can be the difference between success or failure. You need to earn credits in-game in order to unlock new characters, each with special abilities and loadouts. This mean that until you have a healthy selection of characters available, you are likely to find someone else has taken your favourite, leaving you to be the vanilla recruit.
This is another game that is going to be hitting the pockets of fans with premium content in the form of new characters, equipment and maps. Of course, you don’t need to pay the extra, but you will be missing out if you don’t. Like Call of Duty, Battlefield and, more recently, Star Wars: Battlefront, Rainbow Six: Siege is going to need a sizable investment to experience all the available content.
Whilst there’s no doubt that Rainbow Six: Siege is a very polished game offering up some of the best team-based co-operative multiplayer gameplay that you are going find this side of Counterstrike, the lack of single-player is unforgivable. No matter how much fun I had in multiplayer, I still felt like I’d only been given half the game.