Sunday, December 18, 2016

Rainbow Six Siege Review

Originally written on: December 18, 2016

(Review in progress)

As someone who loves FPSs and liked Vegas and Vegas 2 despite their clunkiness, I went into Siege with a mix of excitement and skepticism. Lacking a campaign meant that the rest of the game had to be solid and have enough variety to keep it from getting stale; but on the other hand, it seemed to be the most polished Rainbow Six yet.

Where Siege shines is its overall quality in terms of controls, level design, and as far as I can tell, balance. Movement and aiming no longer feel slow and stiff, which is a huge step forward for the series. It also has some of the best level design in all of gaming, with every level intricately detailed to allow for multiple points of entry and options to prepare.

Other than the single-player tutorial called Situations, there are two main game modes: Multiplayer and Terrorist Hunt. Each of these, unlike Situations, allows players to choose one of the game's various classes, which are separated into attackers and defenders. Each class feels unique for the most part and has specific equipment with some options, such as 1-3 primary weapons to choose from. Weapons for each class can be customized, but this is done separately, meaning if you "buy" a scope for a weapon using the in-game currency for one class, it's only unlocked for that class.

Multiplayer is broken down into three scenarios that ultimately involve 5 attackers against 5 defenders. Players have one life per round, and teamwork is heavily encouraged. To promote this, each class can only be chosen by one person per match, which prevents an entire team of the same class. Defenders can close off and fortify doors, walls, windows, and trap doors, which attackers can shoot, melee, or explode their way through. Certain structures can be partially broken to shoot through but not enough to use as a passage. All classes also seem to have devices similar to remote-controlled cars with a camera at the end used for spotting and tagging enemies and objectives.

Terrorist Hunt can be played solo, although it's best played cooperatively with others. Players make their way through AI-controlled areas as either attackers or defenders, although I've found myself as an attacker more often (this could be chance). This mode is a lower-stakes way — depending on the difficulty — of getting to know classes and maps. Tip: if you hear heavy breathing, run to an open area.

In all game modes, players have set health that does not regenerate. This makes solo Terrorist Hunt runs particularly challenging, although it is possible for a player to revive a teammate if they're injured (health between 1-20%) and restore their health to 50%. Combined with having only one life in all game modes, this will result in beginning players likely spending more time out of gameplay than actually playing unless they prepare enough in Situations or solo Terrorist Hunt.

The game's operatives are fun to use; its controls, level design, hit detection, and gameplay elements feel very polished; and the options at each player's disposal keep things unpredictable. Unfortunately, Siege also has several glaring design flaws that severely hold it back when compared to typical AAA games and to previous Rainbow Six games.

One is the aforementioned lack of a campaign. There's no story element other than the brief cutscenes before and after Situations, and it's pretty generic. Situations are better than nothing, but for those who like to play alone, this game is strongly lacking.

Another is the server-based approach to Terrorist Hunt. Even if you play solo, you have no control over which map or mode you play. Time is limited once a map and mode have been decided, so you have to quickly choose a class and equipment. If you're unaware that the map is ready, you'll spawn as a Recruit class with no special abilities and no weapon customizations. Also, since Terrorist Hunt and Multiplayer are dependent on the game's servers, once those servers are taken down, you'll be left with a $60 paperweight other than Operations.

This could have been remedied by allowing players to create their own offline Terrorist Hunt scenarios where they choose the map, game mode, and class without a time limit. Instead, players have very little control over what they'll be playing, on which map, or even whether they'll be attackers or defenders other than in custom games, which don't give any rewards used to unlock classes and attachments. If you want to jump into a game using a specific class, there's no guaranteed way of this happening without leaving solo Terrorist Hunt sessions and trying again.

The AI in terrorist hunt also has a tendency to shoot you through walls. You can't see them, but they know where you are enough to shoot through solid objects. It could be that they hear your footsteps, but this is an annoyance that breaks the immersion somewhat when it happens.

Rainbow Six Siege is a game that had a lot of potential, but it seems that the half of a game that players are left with didn't fully realize it. To make matters worse, progression is pretty slow, with microtransactions to speed things up. This greedy business tactic has seemingly defined this new generation, making things even worse than the paid DLC of last generation.

For those who don't mind sticking mostly to multiplayer doing a limited number of things (with many ways to do them), losing the ability to do this once the servers go offline, having very little control over the map and game mode if you want to progress, waiting for a match to load every single time you play something, and slow unlocks, you might like Siege. The gameplay is very good if you can get past these poor design choices. For everyone else, I would recommend a pass or a rental (if rentals are still possible) unless you can find it at a pretty cheap price.

Final score: 1.5 out of 5

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