Rainbow Six Siege review: Strategic success
Rainbow Six Siege (PS4/XOne/PC); rating: 9/10 Age: 18+
YOU get only one life – use it wisely. Unusually for a first-person multiplayer shooter, Siege permits no respawns, no recharging health.
In this counter-terrorism sim, gunshots are a rarity, the punctuation marks to protracted bouts of strategic team planning in five-on-five contests across one of 10 well-designed maps.
Unlike previous titles in the long-dormant Rainbow Six series, Siege lacks a single-player story mode. Instead it substitutes a short collection of tutorial levels known as Situations, which clue you into the diverse collection of gadgets and tactics while you rescue hostages, defuse bombs and assassinate terrorists. Introduced by cut-scenes featuring Hollywood alum Angela Bassett, the Situations aren’t particularly challenging once you realise that remote surveillance and methodical progress are better approaches than run-and-gun.
Completing missions in style - for instance, by surviving with more than 50pc health or within a certain time limit – awards RSS’s currency, known as renown. Your bank of renown unlocks specialist operatives, with different weapons and fantastic gadgets, though in typical Ubisoft fashion you can also use real money to buy your way in.
The Situations won’t detain you long but more importantly they pale beside the painstaking yet rewarding team-based encounters in multiplayer. Every move must be coordinated and weighed for its risk. One unlockable operative can deliver a healing dart but in most cases death is a permanent state in each round.
Traditional options such as breach and clear are more hazardous than, say, punching hole in a destructible wall with a charge, followed by a hail of bullets or an adroitly tossed grenade.
Each round in the main multiplayer modes begins with the defenders laying traps and scouting sight lines while attackers pilot remote drones to survey and strategise. Then it’s a matter of everyone sticking to the team plan. Of course, when all hell breaks loose, the improvisation can be just as tense and comically entertaining. That’s often where destructibility of the environment comes into play. You can blow a hole in a ceiling as easily as destroy a wall with some explosives. Or you can drill a few bullets into a door to draw a bead on hiding opponents.
Siege isn’t much fun when team-mates run around like headless chickens. Concerted planning obviously demands you get matched with a like-minded crew online. But when it clicks, it’s everything you’d want in a tactical shooter.