Haven’t done this for a while. Rainbow Six Siege came out last year but I never got around to playing it because as a rule I’m not into online multiplayer. However; there are still updates for it now, and I wanted to get something written about it before I finally do my 2015 game of the year list, because I’ve been playing a lot of Rainbow Six Siege and it turns out it’s bloody good.
The game has single player, but it’s not worth bothering with; a series of tutorials I had a quick go at while installing an update, and single player terrorist hunt, where you are woefully outnumbered and outgunned. Where you’ll get your money’s worth (which is about twenty quid at this point) is the five vs five multiplayer: rounds alternate between attacking and defending, each with its own unique set of characters (operators, as they’re called), in which defenders hold up in a room with bombs/a hostage/a biohazard container and set up various traps, barricades and wall reinforcements to stop the other team, who are all armed with various countermeasures to the aforementioned traps and such. Rounds run for five minutes and end if an entire team is wiped out, which leads to interesting situations where some people will stay with the objective while others go off to hunt down attackers, or sometimes everyone stays in one place, which the attackers may or may not know about and plan accordingly. Surprisingly this all works well without a headset; attacking compliments either staying together or splitting up, defenders generally know to keep an eye on each other, and everyone generally tries to avoid friendly fire. Except for some cretins that team kill, but that doesn’t happen too often.
Games like this can be slightly hard to critique, by their very design and nature. Regardless of how the game’s mechanics and design are, the bulk of your enjoyment is down to other human beings playing the game online, and that can’t really be controlled. In my experience the majority of people take the game seriously enough to actually play it properly, but not so seriously as to fly off the handle if you make mistakes. I have played with people who want nothing more than to kill their own team and be a bloody nuisance, but these instances are infrequent. As for the stuff actually designed by Ubisoft; the shooting is solid, your range of movement isn’t expansive but gets the job done (no cover system, but good prone state, which is a trade-off that works), the simplicity of the game with the added depth of traps, barricades, camera-equipped drones and light weapon customisation means that the game has a rock solid base, with replayability and variety provided the fact that you’re playing against other humans. The operators play a big role, too: as I said earlier attack and defend rounds have their own sets, and they each have their own unique abilities. They’re split up by country/team, and include things like the British SAS, Spetsnaz and FBI swat, and pleasingly (for me at least) aren’t all white men. The game is balanced so that regardless of who everyone picks either team can win a round- each operator’s skills are useful, not essential. Different maps encourage switching up operator and load out, too. Operators are unlocked with in-game XP, or through micro transactions, which is a shame, because the four most recent operators are all ridiculously expensive if you want to buy them with XP. Speaking of which, the operators are largely well balanced (apart from the ones with shields, but they can only use pistols) except for the most recent attacker; Blackbeard. Blackbeard has a clear shield that attaches to the top of his assault rifle. It’s utterly bloody cheap, he’s nigh unstoppable and he’s basically a way to dominate the game through the use of real money. Suffice it to say I feel he’s an unfair addition.
Overall Rainbow Six Siege is excellent: Ubisoft have made a brilliantly simple but endlessly replayable multiplayer shooter that’s easy to get into and hard to put down. By eschewing gimmicks or anything needlessly complicated they can focus on tense, well-designed gameplay, and I’ve got more enjoyment from this than any game this year, with the exception of HITMAN, which set a very high bar. It’s going on my game of the year list, and at twenty quid it’s definitely worth picking up and sinking some time into.
By James Lambert