Get your flank on.

Who doesn’t love a bit of Rainbow Six? Ubisoft’s squad-based shooter is well known for making players feel like badasses, co-ordinating a team of squaddies through increasingly narrow odds. I personally have fond memories of the Rainbow Six: Vegas games, two of the very few cover shooters I’ve enjoyed, and two games that got split screen co-op nailed down. That, and Terrorist Hunt is easily one of the most tense, yet satisfying game modes in gaming history.

I say this all in advance, because it pains me to report that the newest entry, Rainbow Six: Siege, simply doesn’t hold up the series’ high standard, which is evident from the complete afterthoughts that are the single player modes. That said, if you’re lucky enough to group your friends together, the multiplayer portion of Siege could offer you some long term squad-based fun.

The Loneliest Wolf

As Rainbow Six: Siege’s single player offerings are laughably shallow compared to previous games in the series, so too will be my coverage of it. Upon first loading the game up I was delighted by the appearance of Terrorist Hunt on the main menu; being the glowing attraction that it is (and because I was having server issues at the time that prevented me from trying the multiplayer) I decided to go Lone Wolf (essentially solo play) and try out the latest incarnation of my favourite Rainbow Six mode. To my dismay, Terrorist Hunt had been stripped of almost all its features and customisable nature.

rainbow six siege review

After witnessing the destruction of his mantelpiece, this operator made a dash for the Kleenex.

You choose your operator if you’ve bought one (more on that soon), and are thrown into a random map with a random objective. It’s certainly a far cry from the options aplenty mode found in Vegas and its sequel. Things don’t get much better in multiplayer as at this point Terrorist Hunt simply becomes a shallower, AI filled variant of its main mode counterpart.

There’s still fun to be had in Terrorist Hunt, for sure; the excellent map design still lends itself well to the mode’s concept. There’s still tons of places the enemy can flank you, and the AI is a bit smarter than it was back in the day; opponents will use their entire arsenal and the environment to get one over on you. Expect to eat your fair share of debilitating flashbangs, insta-kill bullets to the head, and enemies crouching behind cover to bait your own grenades.

Hello, Operator?

Instead of classes, Ubisoft opted to create operators, who are all unique characters from five counter-terrorist units across the globe. The characters all have their own stats, unique abilities and equipment, and they’re all viable choices. My personal favourite is IQ, who can use a device that allows her to see what’s on the other side of nearby walls, floors and ceilings. She’s great when planning flanks against the opponent.

Each unit has 4 operatives to choose from, and they’ll cost you Renown to unlock. Renown is earned quite simply by playing the game. The first operative in a unit will cost 500, and will then go up by increments of 500 until you’ve unlocked all operators in a unit. I think this is a decent system as it forces you to choose your operator carefully, considering which skills you want to take into battle before unlocking them. It then allows you ample time to get a feel for your character, and by the time you’ve got to grips with them, you’ll likely have enough for a new operator.

Some operators play to making the most out of Siege’s new feature: destructible environments. It sounds like a cheap way to show off the game’s graphical and technical fidelity, but the mechanic does offer some tactical depth that stops Siege from becoming completely stale. Are there enemies hiding behind a wall? Instead of falling into their trap, take them by surprise by using a demo charge to blow the wall away, revealing their position and turning the tables in your favour. Do you hear enemies below? Take a chunk out of the ground and get the drop on them. You’re also able to barricade doorways and windows for when you need to hunker down or hold on to a hostage.

Take a Hostage…With Friends!

Of course, being a multiplayer game I would highly recommend playing Siege with a group of friends. It’s the most fun way to experience the game and you’ll forgive its many shortcomings because of it. In fact, I would insist you play with people you trust; your closest friends if you can. Rainbow Six Siege is a game that requires good communication. This will give you the edge in every single match you play. Call of Duty this ain’t; if you run off on your own, you’re gonna get capped.

rainbow six siege review

Now, I’m no expert, but I think you’re holding that shield wrong, mate.

Sadly, even with friends, the pacing of matches remains sluggish. While somewhat realistic, movement often feels like you’re wading knee-deep through west country treacle, especially with the heavier operators. Immersion is further hampered by the poor animation quality, and visuals that don’t hold a candle to what we saw at E3 2014. In fact, Siege looks like an early cross-generational game.

Rainbow Six: Siege is sadly another case of Ubisoft promising the world, and delivering Cumbria. While the game has some promising ideas for multiplayer, there’s ultimately a lack of compelling content, few game modes and while map design is superb, there’s not much that convinces me to stay playing them. It’s not a nail in the coffin for Rainbow Six, far from it (and thank goodness), but it certainly does not live up to the series’ previous heights.

A review code of Rainbox Six: Siege was provided courtesy of Xbox. The game was reviewed on Xbox One.

Failed Operation