Last year a few friends and I put on Rainbow Six Vegas (The last good Rainbow Six game) for old time's sake. It's hard to believe that it's nine years old, but even harder to believe that nothing has come close to creating the tension that the Rainbow Six series does.
It didn't take us long to slip back into Swat mode. Taking things slow, setting up ambushes and screaming at the last man alive the someone from the other team was behind him.
There have certainly been better online shooters since, but the genre has taken a different direction and these slow methodical games have fallen by the wayside. These days it's harder to convince players that you don't need lightning fast reactions and constant action to create a fun experience and that slowing things down has its own advantages. Bloody kids.
So despite the market being absolutely flooded with online shooters, a Rainbow Six
-shaped hole remains and Rainbow Six Siege
attempts to shun current trends in order to slip into it.
Attempting to bring back the tactical swat game is a little harder than it first appears. Rainbow Six Patriots
was announced in 2011 and subsequently cancelled, the single-player campaign was pulled from Siege
and the open beta was a disaster.
Despite all these warning lights, Siege
is now on the shelves battling for love in a busy Christmas period for console games. And yet despite all this, it manages to pull together a worthwhile experience.
It's a slow burn, for sure. When you start you're forced to play as a recruit with basic equipment. He even sports a rigid salute at the start of the game to drape that noob banner above your head. The round will start and everyone will spring into action, setting traps, reinforcing walls and finding good hiding places while you just stand there wondering what the hell is going on.
What you don't know at that time is that everyone around you is considering how best to win the match ahead. They're considering how the enemy will attack and working on ways to counter their approach.
The 40 seconds before the round truly begins represent what sort of game you're getting into. This isn't about running into the centre of a map, spraying bullets and re-spawning. There's more to it than that. You have to outwit your enemies and think a few moves ahead of them.
After you get a few games under your belt and dip your toe into the game's tutorial, you'll have enough 'Renown' (in-game currency) to unlock an operator and things will start to open up. Each character has his or her special abilities, from using smoke to setting trip mines and even a sledgehammer to batter down walls with ease.
Suddenly you'll feel as though you'll have your place and are ready to join the pre-match set-up with the rest of your team.
The more you play the more you get your head around the maps, but to truly understand them you'll have to have hours upon hours of game time under your belt.
The maps in Rainbow Six Siege
aren't what they first appear. You'll understand the basic layout but these play spaces offer far more options than you'll initially believe. Not only will you need to know where each access point is, you'll have to know the materials that each wall and floor is built out of, because when there appears to be no way of getting into the room you're defending there will almost certainly be a charge being set up above your head to create holes for your opponents to fire through.
The number of options you have on offer is mind-boggling. When attacking do you try to rush a room at the risk of walking into a mine, or do you slowly bash holes into a wall to see if you can create a new line of sight? Maybe you'd rather send a drone up ahead to try to tag enemies, or use CCTV cameras to have a peek at what's going on around the map - that is if someone hasn't already shot them out.
The objective of the game is to either attack or defend a bomb or biohazard container, but these are nothing more than a way of holding players in a specific area. It's rare that a round will finish with a mission being completed, but their inclusion is important to stop players spreading throughout the map and hiding until the time limit is reached.
Each decision is weighted down by the fact that you only have one life. Once you're out, you're out and have to sit back and observe what your surviving team mates are doing. This is where the tension I mentioned earlier comes into it.