Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
“Okay, drones out, let’s…[indecipherable] and then [indecipherable], okay guys?” our team leader ordered, during the preparation phase of the round. My five man crew of elite counter-terrorist operators were about to attempt to rescue a hostage held by a small gang of bad guys. They were holed up in a three-story government building in Mexico City, and we’d been tasked with the high-risk mission.
I hadn’t heard entirely what the team leader had said since most of our communications had been spotty and broken, but I assumed he meant to scout out the area with our drones. “Copy that,” I responded, although I’m not sure if anyone had heard me either.
Moments later, I had a shoe-level view of my little cute drone rolling towards the building and sliding under the front door. It zipped up a set of stairs from the main foyer and down a few hallways before running out of steam. None of our team had spotted any of the terrorists with their drones either, let alone the hostage we had to rescue. This meant that they were all holed up in the basement and we had to go in blind with no intel.
I’d chosen a French GIGN Montagne class of operator to play as. He carried a large, extendable shield, stun grenades, and a P-9 pistol since he was so heavily encumbered. He wore a suit of bulky armor and moved slowly, living up to his moniker as being a “mountain” of heavily-plated, unstoppable force. This was because through my team’s patchy chatter, we’d decided that I’d be the point man and make the initial breach through the building’s front entrance.
I approached said entrance and swung my mighty shield at it a few times, smashing through its boarded up façade. After clearing the foyer, and started down a hallway off to the left side when I suddenly heard a loud “Boom!” The terrorist team had been surveilling me via one of the room-mounted cameras and detonated a C-4 device, but he’d gauged the range wrongly and my protective armor negated any peripheral damage that it could have caused. I hadn’t seen the camera at first and after spying it, shot it out with my pistol.
As my teammates surged through the breached entrance I carefully moved down the side hallway and smashed my way into another room, which led to a set of stairs trailing downward. “Stairs located, heading down,” I reported. A couple of teammates were soon behind me. I cautiously treaded down the stairs and entered a wide hallway flanked by several more boarded up doors. I looked around for any cameras and just then saw a blinking red light on a small device attached to the wall right next to me. “Oh shoot!” I exclaimed as I attempted to shoot at it in order to deactivate its primer. Another loud booming noise sounded and my vision suddenly went black. I hadn’t seen the demolitions charge in time.
These are the types of tense, tactical experiences that one can enjoy while playing Ubisoft’s new shooter, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege. Similar to its last tactical shooters, Rainbow Six: Vegas 1 and 2, Siege favors strategic thinking and careful maneuvering, but takes it several steps further. Utilizing advancements in modern gaming technology, Ubisoft has employed almost totally destructible environments for each map. Couple that with all sorts of traps and barriers for the terrorist side to play with, as well as various gadgets and gizmos for the counter-terrorists, and you’ve got some really dynamic gameplay potential where the maps never play out the same.
Siege also has a nice variety of classes to choose from, a full ten for each side, each with their individual strengths and weaknesses. This engenders careful planning as your team tries to figure out which classes are best-suited for particular maps. Add to that a whole plethora of shiny PDWs, assault rifles, and other weapon systems, plus the aforementioned multitude of gadgets and toys to play with, and one can have a lot of fun with just the setup phase alone.
The weapons are also beautifully rendered and feel weighty and solid instead of flimsy and floaty like the guns in some other games I’ve recently played (such as a particular space opera franchise’s game I recently reviewed, ahem!). Character movement is also very fluid and feels relatively natural, as you bound through narrow breaches and climb up grappling ropes.
The visuals are well-done, with colorful building interiors and exteriors (and foliage), great looking character models, and flashy weapon and gadget effects. The sound is also a stand-out and features deafening explosions, punchy gun staccatos, and blood-curdling screams when both good and bad guys go down.
The only issue I had with the sound department wasn’t with the sounds themselves, but rather Siege’s broken voice com system. For some reason, when you try to communicate with others, only partial messages can be heard. You would have thought that this issue would have been sorted out during Siege’s rather lengthy beta, but perhaps Ubisoft is planning on fixing it with a future patch, although I’m not holding my breath. Joining friends on another VIOP service such as TeamSpeak works just fine though.
Speaking of friends, teaming up with your gaming buddies is the best way to experience Siege. The game’s co-op and single player modes are really not much more than afterthoughts, but do function as a good way to get up to speed with the game’s core game mechanics. Siege is primarily centered on multiplayer and this is where it truly shines. There’s nothing like teaming up with four of your friends (with good coms) and assailing or defending an objective, it’s a real blast.
However, it must be also mentioned that when played with random players, combined with the lack of a decent communication system, multiplayer matches can tend to break down into glorified Counterstrike-esque contests, with many players eschewing any of the game’s built-in tactical elements. Running around aimlessly and shooting randomly, I’ve seen my share of hyperactive, disconnected team play, and so remedied that by only playing with people I knew.
In all, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege brings a unique ripple to the rather formulaic first person shooter genre. It fuses teamwork-heavy gameplay, where each operator has to play to each other’s strengths (and compensate for their weaknesses), gritty, adrenaline-pumping shootouts and ambushes, and fun, objective-based gameplay. If Ubisoft manages to fix its minor issues such as its buggy VOIP system, I see it being an excellent and enthralling game that will stay on your hard drive for many months to come.
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