Tactics aren’t usually a major concern in shooter games. Most players simply run around the battlefield blasting or bashing everything that isn’t marked as a friend — and some things that are.
However, tactics are vital in “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege” from Ubisoft. Players who don’t think and cooperate are almost certain to face an early demise.
In each mission, you play as a member of a five-person team of special operators trying to foil a terrorist plot. Before the mission starts, you select an agent working for one of the world’s top counterterrorism agencies, such as the FBI, Britain’s Special Air Service and Russia’s Spetsnaz.
Each of these agents has special weapons and gear, such as breaching charges, stun grenades, scanners, riot shields, mounted machine guns and miniature drones. Only specific characters can use many of these items. For example, IQ of the German Polizei uses a scanner that locates explosives, and Sledge of the British SAS uses a wall-obliterating sledgehammer. The key to success in almost all missions is using these agents and their gear in concert to locate, outwit and eliminate the enemy.
Virtually all missions are multiplayer, so you’ll be very disappointed if you’re looking for a single-player campaign. The game offers a series of quick missions that serves as an extended tutorial, but there’s no storyline involved. This is a shame since previous editions of “Rainbow Six” had campaigns that were well designed and very fun. Its absence leaves a gap that the other modes can’t quite fill.
Players have two basic options for gameplay: team competition and Terrorist Hunt. Both deliver exciting action that becomes almost addictive when playing with a good team.
In the competitive mode, two teams of five take turns assaulting and defending a building. Attackers must free hostages, capture biological weapons or deactivate bombs.
At the start of each mission, defenders are given time to board up windows and doors, reinforce walls, plant explosive charges and lay razor wire. Attackers can use this time to send drones to spy on the defenders and their preparations.
Once the actual assault begins, attackers must fight their way to the goal. Although this involves a lot of gunfire, it also involves using the agents’ special gadgets. Players will blast through walls and floors with breaching charges and scan for electronic devices and then counter them with an electromagnetic pulse grenade. When the attackers finally reach the defenders, there’s usually an intense firefight to determine the victor. Although it’s possible to win a match by defusing a bomb or rescuing a hostage while opponents are still on the battlefield, most matches end when one side is wiped out.
In Terrorist Hunt, a team of five takes on terrorists who are controlled by the game’s software.
An earlier incarnation of “Rainbow Six” offered a Terrorist Hunt mode that was so compelling that my friends and I played it until making the switch to the new generation of consoles two years ago. The new version offers the same fun but adds some new challenges. In the older version, the main challenge was tracking down and eliminating all of the terrorists on the map. While you can still do that in some missions, other missions add tasks such as defusing bombs, rescuing hostages or guarding hostages from attackers.
You’d expect competitive matches against flesh-and-blood players to be intense, but Terrorist Hunt manages to keep things exciting with a few tricks of its own. There are always many more than five enemies, and they’re usually on the move. If you don’t stay on your toes, you might get surrounded. You also need to worry about suicide bombers. These nasty guys will charge toward you with guns blazing and then detonate themselves. Finally, foes are unusually well supplied with explosive charges, meaning that rooms can be packed with deadly bombs.
The game offers a good selection of maps, ranging from suburban homes to sprawling embassy complexes. Each offers a different set of challenges for both attackers and defenders.
The game’s controls are smooth, perfectly able to keep up with the fast-paced action. And the match-making mechanics are quick and efficient.
However, the graphics aren’t exactly top-notch. The environments lack the detail and texture that’s available in games like “Call of Duty: Black Ops III” or even Ubisoft’s other fall offering, “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.” Visual glitches, such as arms sticking through walls, are very frequent.
The game receives a mature rating because of violence, blood splatters and foul-mouthed terrorists.
Bottom line: B “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege” offers team combat that’s intense and a Terrorist Hunt mode that’s addictive, but seems incomplete without a single-player campaign.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Ubisoft provided a review copy of this game.