Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege PS4 Review

Rainbow Six: Siege
Rainbow Six: Siege. Ubisoft

There are basic expectations of the PS4 game at the end of 2015 that “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege” just doesn’t meet. Is it a horrible game? No. What it does it does reasonably well. But it doesn’t do much. At all. It’s visually flat, offers no single-player campaign, and can’t compete with deep multiplayer offerings like those included with “Call of Duty: Black Ops III” and “Battlefield Hardline.” Tom Clancy fans are probably already writing me emails if they’re still reading. Yes, I know these games offer something VERY different from the twitch-model of “CoD”—they’re built around strategy, stealth, and co-operative play. They’re designed to replicate real-life situations more than the arcade experience we’ve come to expect from the modern FPS. However, I would argue that “Siege” doesn’t work on those terms either. The environments are flat and unengaging, the enemy AI is inconsistent, and there’s no reason a realistic shooter also needs to be a thin one when it comes to actual gameplay.

The two biggest shooters of the last few weeks—“Star Wars Battlefront” and “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege”—are two of the bigger disappointments of the season. In fact, even “Assassin’s Creed Syndicate” and “Fallout 4” have come in below artistic expectations. 2016 can’t get here soon enough.

As expected, you are a member of a counter-terrorism unit on the Rainbow team. You can choose between and unlock different operators/agents to use in various operations such as trying to rescue a hostage or overtake a building run by terrorists. Different operators have different toys and skill sets, and so only one of each can be on each squad. It’s one of many ways that the game encourages teamwork. Picking the right five operators could give you an advantage before a match even begins. And so “Siege” might be a completely different experience if you have four friends also willing to buy the title and also with the free time at the same time to play with you. Those are a lot of “ alsos” to make it work. When I played, there was little actual teamwork with my fellow squad members. In fact, I found more co-op play in “Hardline.”

There is almost no narrative in “Siege.” After an introduction with Angela Bassett voicing your superior, you may settle in for an engaging action-adventure. Lower expectations. The only single-player offering is a series of operations—take a plane run by hostages, defuse a bomb, etc. They’re practically just tutorials for the multi-player, which means there is really no single-player campaign at all.

Admittedly, there are a lot of fun toys in “Siege.” In one multiplayer mode, you get to prepare for the assault on your target by the other team. There’s a fun strategy in figuring out where to barricade entryways, place barbed wire, and hide out to get the drop on your enemy. You also have access to drones, breach explosives, rappel wire, etc. But, again, you’ll have pretty much seen all of them by the end of the first hour or two. From there, you’ll be interested in unlocking new operators, but that’s all the variety. “Siege” would make for a very engaging multiplayer offering that bolstered an equally impressive campaign. As is, it’s half a game.

And, perhaps worst of all, it doesn’t look good. The physics often feel off as you lurch up a rappel wire or vault through a half-broken door. Guys regularly clip through walls—revealing their positions—and the level of detail in most of the settings is PS3-level at best.

I have really enjoyed Tom Clancy games in the past, especially the “Splinter Cell” franchise and even “Rainbow Six Vegas.” And so, I was looking forward to the triumphant return of the brand. I’ll keep looking.