Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege Review

By Blair Nokes on January 31, 2016

There was a time when Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six series was a dominant first person shooter in the genre. It started out back in 1998, with a focus on stealth and tactics and a very punishing difficulty that added to the overall realism; all in-game characters could be taken down with one or two bullets. Players were given a briefing stage to plan out who they took control of, what they would use and any pre-established orders and waypoints given. From there, Rainbow Six made its mark as a purely tactical based shooter, spanning over multiple sequels. It really started to gain traction with Rainbow Six 3, being the first instalment where players could actually see their gun models. At the beginning of the seventh generation, Rainbow Six took a different turn in gameplay design with the ever-popular Rainbow Six Vegas series. These games primarily focused on squad tactics, allowing the player to direct their fellow teammates for flanking moves, and door breaches for successful objective completions. One of the most interesting aspects was that this game had a hard-cover mechanic that allowed you to press up against walls, shifting the game's perspective from first to third person. It fundamentally changed the game-state as you now got to observe more of the map, making it more efficient to plan out strategies, and to observe incoming hostiles. Back in 2011, gamers were teased with something called Rainbow 6: Patriots. The game took place in New York City, with Team Rainbow responding to a terrorist group under the name "True Patriots" who took it upon themselves to act out against what they perceived as Wall Street corruption. A lot of controversy broke out towards the game, namely pertaining to the fact that the "terrorists" were American, which rubbed people the wrong way. In 2014, Rainbow 6 Patriots was scrapped altogether, and Rainbow 6 Siege took its place. By design, it's like a completely different game, ditching any sense of a narrative or story and instead builds itself around an online community. The real question is whether or not it has enough going on to compete with the other shooters on the market.

As previously hinted, there is no story mode in Rainbow 6 Siege. A little disappointing, not in the sense that the previous games had fantastic stories, but that they were all quite enjoyable as experiences. Instead, we are given ten missions, or "situations" that essentially serve as a tutorial for the online multiplayer maps. Each map is largely different from one another, spanning from residential areas, industrial complexes, to an idled plane. Each mission has three experience-boosting objectives that are typically environmental based, character specific, or to complete the level with more than half your health remaining. Each mission has a specific gimmick to coincide with the character roster, which seems to be Rainbow 6's primary focus.

Unlike previous entries, every character in Rainbow 6 Siege are completely individualized. There are five counter-terrorist groups at your disposal: SWAT, GIGN, SAS, Spetsnaz, and GSG-9. Within each group are four playable characters, divided between offensive and defensive capabilities. Each individual character has unique features from every other character, which is pretty interesting. One Operator from the British SAS, aptly named Sledge, wields a sledgehammer that can bust through thicker walls. American defender, Castle, has the ability to place kevlar barricades. The rest of the characters continue on with the trend of these gameplay gimmicks, and all seem to have a viable use. That being said, there are definitely some that outclass and outperform others, but hopefully that can be ironed out with future patch work. One more positive thing to note is that Ubisoft plans to release more operators in the near future, and map packs are reportedly free to download, which is a huge advantage compared to its direct competitors and their 50-60 dollar map pack season passes. The ultimate catch is the "Renown" system. Renown is Rainbow 6's digital currency you earn from either performing those aforementioned specific tasks in the single player tutorials, or of course through paid microtransactions. These renown points are then used to purchase and unlock every Operator, guns, gun attachments, and sub-weapons. In short, most of the game is locked behind this, with the idea that you are to play or pay to unlock these features.

The gameplay for Rainbow 6 Siege is some of the tightest shooting mechanics I've experienced. Guns look, feel, and sound meaty with some really impressive gun sounds. As is tradition, Rainbow 6 is a very tactical and strategic game; it's meant to be played cooperatively as a team. As such, the additional gameplay mechanics revolve around aggressive breaches, surveillance with drones, zone reinforcement, and one of my personal favourite additions, the rappel. All players are equipped with a rope and can rappel up and down structures to gain access to rooftops, or to breach a window. Some of the best gameplay moments were taking out boarded windows hanging upside down and clearing a room full of hostiles. And to cope with the amount of options players have at their disposal, Ubisoft ensured that each level comes full of multiple routes, entries, access points, and lots of destroyable environments that really change the flow of the game.

Online consists of Hostage Mode and Bomb Defuse, played out between terrorists and counter-terrorists. When a round begins, attackers are given drones to control to scope out the environment and tag current enemy positions and also to help you make a mental map of where and how to proceed. Like typical Rainbow 6 fashion, it's a one kill elimination; there are no respawns here. There is also an online cooperative mode called Terrorist Hunt, payed with up to five people. Players assume the role of either attackers or defenders, and take on waves of AI-controlled enemies. While it's fairly light in terms of variety, considering the level destructibility that's always present each match can play entirely different from the previous. That's not to say I'm not a little disappointed in the lack of content, but as a counterpoint more doesn't always necessarily mean better, and factoring the whole team-based aspect of smaller operations, these seem like a few of the only options available without deviating too much for what Rainbow 6 sets out to be. Another fantastic experience while online is the fact that mic-play is dominant; and for good reason. It is not a lot of fun to participate in a multiplayer game when you have unresponsive friendlies or lone ranger-type gamers. This game is methodical, and demands that your teammates think together as a unit to be the most efficient. So player-characters will offer assistance frequently, note locations that they've cleared, enemies spotted, and when grenades or flashbangs have been deployed to warn allies to keep their distance. On that front, Rainbow 6 Siege is one of the stronger team-focused games this generation.

The game is also gorgeous at times. From the amazing into movies that introduce you to individual operators, to the polished look and design of the environments, to the way boards, walls, and concrete crumble and destroy piece by piece, Rainbow 6 Siege is most definitely a looker. This has a lot to do with the fact that they aren't trying to compete with the player counts that Battlefront or Black Ops 3 have; it's a close-knit game, with smaller team-based operations, so there's a lot less to consider while online. It should naturally stand a leg up in the visual department, but factoring in the destructibility while maintaining a solid framerate throughout is a definite feat Ubisoft should be proud of. With the promise of future maps being released for free, I'm pretty excited to see what else they have in store.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with Rainbow 6 Siege. As a shooter, it impressed me the most with its core game mechanics, and its dependence on pure team-play. It has an interesting gimmick with the individual Operators that all act and perform differently from one another. It's still a shame that we were left without any kind of single player campaign. The 10 situations available are adequate to get players used to level design, but it's far from an actual fleshed out single player component. Online is most definitely a success, with a great emphasis on team-play, coordination, and destructibility, and even offers a horde mode. Still, content-wise it is fairly light, so it's difficult to recommend at full retail price compared to other only-online games like Battlefront that offer a considerable amount of content for being only online.

Really tight and precise shooting mechanics coupled with classic tactical gameplay.
Interesting “Operator” idea that gives you access to a large quantity of players that are all unique.
The rappel is just so darn cool.
Fairly light in content at launch.
The Renown system is fine for a way to make players either pay or play, but it's also tedious to unlock all the characters.
No single player mode is a bit of a letdown.
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