“When Duty Calls”
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Format: PC, PS4, Xbox One (reviewed)
Released: December 1, 2015
Rainbow Six Siege is a special game, but it comes with a lot of baggage. Its refined mechanics, excellent map design, and laser sharp focus on tactical gameplay, elevate it to a level multiplayer shooters of its same motivations strive for. Yet, Siege’s lack of a traditional campaign and questionable business decisions, matched with the typical annoyances of your average multiplayer focused title, hold it back from reaching the greatness its core gameplay sets out to attain. That said, Siege manages to achieve heart-pounding tension few modern shooters are able to procure. The unpredictable nature of each match and wide array of variables at play during any given encounter, kept me coming back for more, night after night. In terms of content, Ubisoft Montreal’s base package is lacking in quantity, however the quality of what is present is strong when uninterrupted. Siege is a flawed game, but the intent behind it’s gameplay fundamentals and structure, roped me in, and that’s more than I can say for the majority of multiplayer shooter focused titles released this year.After having gone dark for a number of years now, Siege effectively acts as a reboot to the Rainbow Six series, breaching with a heavy focus on competitive multiplayer. This new take on Rainbow sees teams of five, facing off in a rotating attack-and-defend structure throughout each of Siege’s three PvP modes. There are no respawns or regenerating health, and maintaining a robust strategy is the only way to find consistent success. Every move, bullet, and class specific ability is meaningful and finite, giving each round a concrete sense of absolute. The majority of an average round is spent scouting and carefully planning your next move as a team. Both of these approaches are essential and require a level of somewhat in-depth communication between teammates if looking to better the chances of success. It’s very likely all of this ensues before gunfire even breaks out, for Siege is setup to take its time when getting to the action. While running-and-gunning may wind you up with a few lucky kills, it’s a knee-jerk technique that fails in comparison to taking things methodically. Intense firefights are certainly to be found within the experience, but they’re not without their build. The calm before the storm is powerful, echoing throughout the fortified maps that are home to Siege’s eventual vigorous chaos.
When the silence is inevitably broken, things get hectic to say the least. During these frantic, though precise encounters, Siege’s gunplay and destruction shine through the mayhem. Blasting holes in walls, floors, ceilings, and barricades give your team a tactical advantage, if executed at the right time. Destruction doesn’t come across as a gimmick either, for many altercations closed with a barrage of carefully placed gunfire through exposed drywall. It’s an adrenaline fueled experience, that excels in optimizing map design with objectives, planning, and concluding combat. Tossing a drone to scout a fortified room at the right moment, or detonating a breaching charge with acute forethought, feeds into the overall sensation of purpose each move has on the fate of a round. Death sent a message every time I carelessly checked my corners, or failed to cover a buddy’s back in combat, resulting in a back and forth between strategies that gradually nurtured me as a player. Phenomenal sound design also contributes to the incentive to soak in the environment before making your next move, and doing so usually pays off greatly. This level of gameplay focused nuance is what keeps Siege afloat when its problems come swinging, some of which end up landing more devastating blows than others.In addition to PvP, Siege brings back Terrorist Hunt, a horde-like mode where you, or your squad take on a group of AI enemies. Terrorist Hunt offers different variations as well, with hostage, bomb diffuse, and classic, which tasks players with simply eliminating all hostiles. It’s a challenging offer as a whole, especially on the harder difficulties when the AI enemies take advantage of Siege’s complex tactics. While Terrorist Hunt isn’t as unpredictable as the package’s standard multiplayer offerings, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had and room to practice methods, loadouts, and more. Lastly, Siege offers Situations, a set of 10 solo missions that feature a structured rundown of what you might encounter when heading into the competitive scene. Here I became familiar with basic concepts of how Siege operated, allowing for organized experimentation with the game’s quintessential mechanics, operators, and unique tactics, such as destruction. Situations are the closest there is to a campaign, and while they certainly don’t fill the hole that is left in the absence of a story mode, they’re enjoyable and challenging in their own right. The primary spice of gameplay comes from Siege’s operators, an ensemble of 20 characters, made up of 10 attackers and 10 defenders. Prior to beginning each match, both teams choose an operator from their library, all of which bring their own special abilities into the fight. When defending, I found myself drawn to Doc and Tachanka, as their unique gadgets fit both of my desired play styles perfectly. Whereas when attacking, I preferred Thermite and Blitz, for I felt much more confident breaching rooms and providing cover for my team. The list goes on, and testing out the selection of operators available remained a high point throughout my entire experience, maintaining its novelty long past the initial hours.
Unfortunately, Rainbow Six Siege is brought to a halt on a number of occasions. Chiefly, Siege’s progression system is a frustrating and jumbled endeavor, seemingly reliant upon microtransactions to speed up the prolonged process. The first batch of operators can be fairly easily unlocked by completing Situations, Terrorist Hunt or PvP, yet after filling your library up with 10 plus, it becomes a slog. Operators grow in renown price the more you buy, and renown isn’t coming in as much the more you level up. It’s here where Siege hits a wall, almost declaring you to spend real-world cash on renown bundles to cross the hump. If looking to unlock important attachments for your weapons, such as scopes, grips, and suppressors, a fairly solid amount of renown is needed. It takes a lot of time to rake in this sort of renown, especially if only preforming decently in battle. The unbalanced nature of the progression matched with the somewhat iffy state of the servers, hold back what is trying to be a shooter solely reliant upon skill in all facets of a fight. These caveats not only damper the enjoyment of the title itself, but outwardly go against its goals, creating for an apparent juxtaposition between developer and publisher motives. Bottom line, Siege is a better game without the corporate strings of it’s ridiculous business model attached, and it’s a damn shame it affects the quality of the game so much.Conclusion: Siege’s pace is slow, methodical, and diligent in its execution, bestowing tension on every heart-pounding moment of gameplay. When everything comes together, Ubisoft Montreal’s competitive shooter stands tall above its competition. The unpredictability and infectious pressure to succeed under challenging circumstances kept matches fresh, especially when experimenting with the title’s various different operators. Siege is at its strongest when embracing its intimate strategic foundation, gearing its focus to reaction time, communication, and strategizing. However, these strides aren’t with out their interruptions, as the outlandish free-to-play style progression system and sever issues proved to be a constant point of frustration throughout my time with Siege. When it comes down to it, Rainbow Six Siege is a fundamentally robust shooter that encompasses some stellar gameplay, yet suffers from a lack of content to reinforce its solid ideas. Underneath all of its annoyances and borderline business model, lies a special game, capable of reaching greatness, but as it stands now, Siege isn’t quite there, yet.
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