Rainbow Six Siege Review (PlayStation 4)
Seven years after the release of the last Rainbow Six game, we've seen a multitude of strictly online-only FPS games come and go as the focus on blockbuster solo campaigns have started to dwindle. It takes a lot for a predominantly multiplayer FPS game to entice players to keep coming back for the long haul. Luckily, Rainbow Six Siege's unique brand of intense, tactical shootouts are unlike anything else in the first-person shooter scene.
Rainbow Six Siege is the latest FPS franchise that abandons its solo campaign in favor of Situations, which are basically cinematic and glorified tutorial sequences that introduce you to a handful of the game's Operators, letting you experiment and learn how to play each character type. Veteran fans of the series will undoubtedly miss the story campaigns they saw in the previous titles, but at least Ubisoft Montreal atones for this by making Rainbow Six Siege's multiplayer gameplay an unrivaled experience that it filled with intensity and strategy, but only when things fall into the place.
The graphics of Rainbow Six Siege aren't particularly groundbreaking, but given the destruction and chaos that you're able to wreak throughout each claustrophobic battleground, it's understandable. It's not prettier than most of it's contemporaries and oftentimes I was left questioning whether or not certain assets were brought over from Patriots, which was in development two years ago. For a game that only features 5 vs. 5 as its primary game mode, I was hoping that the guns, models, levels and visual effects looked a bit more crisp and refined. Then again, once you're infiltrating or defending and the heat is on, you won't really notice Siege's graphical shortcomings.
They were most noticeable when playing as counter-terrorists and using your ground-based drones in order to scout the enemy's fortifications and to gain insight about their positions and layout. Luckily, I never ran into any frame rate issues while playing, which can make a world of a difference in a game like this due to each player only having one life per round and authentic the bullet detection is (all it takes is one or two to the chest sometimes). I do have to praise the blood-splattering effects that occur after someone gets shot. Watching the victim's blood instantly spray out onto the wall after being shot is something very few movies or video games get right, and Dexter Morgan would be proud.
The sound effects are where Rainbow Six Siege really shine from a presentation standpoint. The soundtrack itself is minimal, but that's all you need sometimes in order to hype the intensity of the firefights that are about to break out. Hearing calm drums over light, dragging synth tracks just gets you into the zone as you're defending or infiltrating. Siege does a great job of having certain songs for specific parts of the match. As the setup music for the first 30 seconds of each round is often catchy, the game automatically cuts to something more serious once the match begins. Don't be surprised by what you hear when you're the last man standing. A few of the songs have heartbeats over them, which reiterates how wild and serious things are when you're slowly rappelling down the side of a building (upside down and facing the ground), stealthily scanning each window for targets.
Likewise, the sound effects are excellent. Playing with a surround sound pair of headphones on is a godsend and will really help you step your game up. In the thinner, smaller buildings, you can hear the floor creaks and footsteps above in order to guesstimate the location of an enemy. If you're close enough, you can also hear when an enemy is planting an explosive on a barricade or door. You'd be surprised how many surprise kills I was able to pull off due to how good the sound detection is in the game.
While some of the visual aspects might be lacking for Rainbow Six Siege, the level of interactivity you can have with the stage is excellent. Being able to melee attack into a barricade, create an opening and pop off a headshot on an unsuspecting player a second later is a rush that you can't get from most conventional multiplayer FPS titles. Watching the counter-terrorists invade my defenses just to set off a flashbang or some other trap I set just left me grinning widely as I took advantage of what happened. The amount of destruction you can cause to each of the levels is great. While you can't destroy entire buildings like in the later Battlefield games, you can destroy just enough so that it adds unpredictability to every encounter. In certain areas, you can breach through the floor or ceiling, which adds to all kinds of surprise engagements. One of my favorite fake-out moves is detonating a boarded up wall and breaking through a nearby window to start shooting at the targets while they were all focused on the doorway's explosion. There's a certain degree of fun to be had here that you simply can't get from most other first-person shooters.
The important thing while playing is that you talk with your comrades in order to unify your attacks, otherwise things will oftentimes blow up in your face due to random players just running in guns-blazing. Even if there's a bomb to defuse or a hostage to rescue, most of my random teammates would just run-and-gun their way through the stages, which oftentimes led to a failed objective. Nearly every hostage and bomb situation ended with a team merely getting wiped out as opposed to someone actually extracting the hostage or stopping the bomb. It's probably just the nature of the younger players who are more accustomed to football team-sized deathmatches, but that style doesn't work for Rainbow Six Siege. Oftentimes this led to match failures due to people not caring for the objectives, frag-hunting or simply just running in too fast without taking their time. Once you have a 5 vs. 3 situation, the odds drop tremendously, so those one or two Rambos you get every round do throw a wrench into your chances of winning. Things got quite fun once I was able to find a couple of friends and like-minded players who were willing to party up again and again and actually talk-out our strategies. Combined with the tight, nail-biting shootout mechanics, this is where Siege absolutely shines. Just the rush you get from each successful breach or defense is amazing and was a feeling I rarely get from playing FPS titles online.
There's a co-op Terrorist Hunt mode that has some atrocious horde mode AI that most groups are going to not return to after trying once or twice. It's actual shooting and gameplay is refined and will keep you at the edge of your seat due to how easy it is to die and the lack of respawns during each round. Finding a small group of relatively seriously players is where Siege really shines, especially when both teams are playing the game according to the slower, calculated way it was was meant to be enjoyed. This slower pacing isn't for everyone.
Unfortunately, Siege doesn't really have anything enticing to keep you playing in the long run. After unlocking roughly 12 of the 20 different Operators, I hit a wall where the amount of Renown (the currency needed to unlock Operators, guns, accessories and mods) I was regularly earning simply wasn't closing the gap to the next set of things unlock. It felt like Ubisoft purposely stretched out these later unlocks in order to encourage the purchase of Renown using real life currency. Rainbow Six Siege isn't exactly the full return to form we were hoping for after seven years of dormancy, but it's still worth the wallet breach if you're willing to dedicate yourself to the craft and are able to find a few friends.
This review was completed using a purchased, retail copy of Rainbow Six Siege for PlayStation 4.