Rainbow Six: Siege
If you're looking for a story, you're barking up the wrong wall reinforcement, Bub. There ain't no story here!
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege is one of a new breed of online multiplayer shooters that sneers a growling "nyet" to anything that resembles an offline campaign mode. You know, those complex, travel-the-world-and-attack-the-bad-guys battle sagas that have formed the narrative foundation for so many shooters before.
What we have instead is a pick-your-character-and-go challenge that's much simpler and more direct: a game that focuses solely on short, intense, close quarters combat between two teams.
Choose Your Operative
Players quickly find themselves facing specific scenarios and threats with their online teammates, such as a hostage situation in a local bank or a dirty bomb threat on a grounded airliner. They must work together to attack or defend their assigned positions if they hope to succeed.
To accomplish that goal, players choose from 20 Rainbow Six "operatives" when it comes to assembling a five-person Special Forces team. These specialists are gathered from elite military groups around the world: the American SWAT teams, British SAS, Russian Spetsnaz, etc. Each one has his or her own particular skill set. And understanding how each operative can augment your group of attackers or defenders will help you decide on the best character to use.
Castle, for instance, can reinforce an area with special defensive walls that require a bit more than gunfire to break through. Mute is skilled at disrupting an enemy's electronic gadgets. Sledge can instantly hammer gaping holes in walls or floors. Pulse uses tech to pinpoint an enemy's heartbeat the next room over. Glaz has an elite sniper rifle that's perfect for picking off unsuspecting foes at a distance.
Chess Meets Destruction
Once underway, the first thing this reinvention of the Rainbow Six franchise makes clear is that you're not safe anywhere. There's no section of drywall, no patch of wooden ceiling and no piece of furniture that can't be smashed, riddled and blown into kindling if your enemies have the right guns, explosives and skills. And if there's any small, story-like element to consider here, it's the necessity of understanding the abilities and backgrounds of the opposing team as well as those of your own teammates.
Which brings us to the second lesson this game drives home: It's all about teamwork. Rainbow Six: Siege is much like a game of chess ... only with guns, barbed wire and grenades. If you've got the right combination of pieces, if you assess your area well, develop the right strategies and instinctively work together, your group can seize an objective or repel an attacker with skill.
On the other hand, if your team members dash around in a run-and-gun frenzy, you'll be eliminated in a matter of minutes.
Just How "M" Is It?
Now, if you're wondering if this strict multiplayer "chess match" approach might actually diminish some of the gushing-entrails gore found in more typical shooters, the answer is yes, it does. There is a huge "something bad happened here" red wall splash when a combatant goes down, but the game's focus isn't on torture, deadly agony and gory dynamics as in some broadly similar titles. Rainbow Six: Siege is, above all else, about counterterrorism breach and defense tactics. It's arguably as much about strategy as much as it is shooting.
But make no mistake: There is still plenty of "M" in this M-rated shooter. If anything, the game's small-map conflicts make the kill-'em-all firefights all the more frenetic and intense. And hours and hours of heart-thumping trigger-pulling is still hours and hours of heart-thumping trigger-pulling.
On top of that, the f-word explodes in some parts of the game action, as well—verbally besieging players on another level—and absolutely earning the cautionary M rating the game has been given.