Since it was first announced, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) has been presented as a multiplayer-centric first-person shooter. Which was a big disappointment to those of us who really enjoyed the story-driven campaigns in its predecessors, Rainbow Six Vegas and Rainbow Six Vegas 2. But with the game featuring a solo section called “Situations,” as well as options to play the mode “Terrorist Hunt” on your own, I decided to see if there was enough to this game to make it worthwhile for those who don’t play well with others.
In Rainbow Six Siege,
“Situations” are a series of ten one-off missions that are clearly designed to be both a solo mode and training for the game’s multiplayer modes. Sent in alone, you have to complete such missions as the rescuing of a hostage from a group of terrorists, the eliminating all of terrorists in a building, and the disarming of a bomb…while also taking out some terrorists.
But while “Situations” isn’t driven by a story, this mode — and in fact, every mode in Rainbow Six Siege — is connected by an overarching narrative that gives them context. There’s even cutscenes that serve introduce each mission. Granted, they don’t give this mode more than a couple vague plot points, but they do explain what you’re supposed to do and why.
Now, while the aforementioned Rainbow Six Vegas and Vegas 2 games were more Call Of Duty-ish in their approach, earlier Rainbow Six games were decidedly more tactical and serious. And it is this latter approach that we find the “Situations” mode of Rainbow Six Siege. You don’t have health that magically regenerates, nor are there any mid-mission checkpoints. This is not a game where you get to run and gun, then take a moment to catch your breath before runnin’ and gunnin’ again. Instead, the “Situations” missions are ones that have to be played over and over until you get them just right.
Along with “Situations,” Rainbow Six Siege also lets you play the up-to-five-player co-op mode “Terrorist Hunt” on your own. In it, you play randomly placed missions with equally random objectives. Which means you may spend one round hunting terrorists in a deserted section of a city, the next diffusing a bomb in an embassy while taking out the terrorists who planted it, and then another rescuing a hostage being held captive in a house by a bunch of terrorists. There’s even a “Horde”-like survival mode that has you using barricades and barbed wire to protect a civilian from being killed by, you guessed it, terrorists.
But while the random nature of “Terrorist Hunt” makes it a bit more interesting than “Situations,” it’s clearly made to be played with friends. Not just because this mode is clearly designed for teams who can work together well, but also because things get so hairy that it seems like someone kicked the difficulty up a notch when you weren’t looking. Which, given this game’s already unforgiving nature, will have you wondering if they forgot to adjust the skill level in this mode from five people to one.
While Rainbow Six Siege has…
a good amount of content for people who like to play on their own, especially if they like to play shooters that are challenging, it really only works as well as it does because of the game’s solid fundamentals. The controls are tight and intuitive, while the buildings you storm have a lot of passageways and barricades, which means you’ve got plenty to duck behind when the bad guys come at you from all angles. Buildings are also somewhat destructible, though, so you also have to be mindful of guys shooting you through holes in the walls, floors, and ceilings.
It also helps that you get to play with some fun toys. Besides a wide variety of guns and grenades, you also have access to door-busting explosive charges, rappelling ropes, and a remote-controlled drone with a camera you can use to scout an area before you assault it. And those are available in every “Terrorist Hunt” variation as well as “Situations.”
But where the designers of Rainbow Six Siege really nailed it is in the sound design, which not only uses your home theater’s surround sound to good effect, but it also does some neat tricks, like how it makes it sound like your ears are ringing if you get too close to an explosion.
As solid as Rainbow Six Siege may be as a shooter, though, it does have some issues that might…maybe not ruin the experience, but certainly lessen the fun.
For starters, if you die before completing a mission in “Situations,” you get to see a replay of your death. Or should I say, you’re forced to relive your death because you can’t skip this replay. Though, oddly, you can pause it. Similarly, while Rainbow Six Siege has an aim assist option, it’s so subtle that it never felt like my aim was the least bit assisted.
Having decent aim assistance would, of course,
help with the somewhat skewed difficulty. As it stands now, the game has “normal,” “hard,” and “realistic,” but when playing “Terrorist Hunt” on your own — which, as I mentioned, doesn’t seem to adjust the difficulty when you play it solo as opposed to with four friends — “normal” feels more like “hard,” “hard” feels more like “realistic,” and “realistic” feels more like a kick to the crotch.
Which brings me to something I miss from the single-player campaign of Rainbow Six Vegas and Rainbow Six Vegas 2: having two subordinate soldiers to whom I could give simple squad commands. Not only would this help with the difficulty issue, but it would also make more narrative sense. If some woman is being held hostage in her house, or there’s a bomb in an embassy, no real police or military unit would send in a lone operative, they’d always go in with a team.
Rainbow Six Siege also has an issue so common these days that I’ve grown tired of cutting and pasting the following paragraph into nearly every game review I do: some of the text is too damn small. If you sit at a reasonable distance from your television — y’know, like your momma told you to — you’ll have trouble reading the subtitles and the updates to your mission status. Though it also doesn’t help that some of the menus feature white type against a light grey background.
But the biggest problem with playing Rainbow Six Siege on your own — though it only applies to “Situations” — is that there’s no reason to play them again once you’ve beaten them. At least not on the same difficulty setting. If you play any mission a second time, on the same difficulty, you’ll find the enemies located in the same rooms of the same buildings.
Though it is interesting that — unlike such multiplayer-centric games as Titanfall and Star Wars Battlefront — the absence of a story-driven single-player mode in Rainbow Six Siege doesn’t feel as much of a mistake as it did in those games. Sure, it would’ve been fun if this had as compelling a campaign as the ones in Rainbow Six Vegas and Rainbow Six Vegas 2, but the gameplay here is so driven by teamwork that having a cinematic solo mode doesn’t seem as imperative.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is meant to be played with other people online. But if, like me, you don’t play well with others, and you’re a fan of serious (and difficult) shooters, and you don’t get bored playing the same missions over and over, it will give you a good run for your money.