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E3 2014 Must Buy: Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
Some of my earliest memories in gaming go all the way back to the Rainbow Six series. I have fond memories of picking my team of soldiers, led by Ding Chavez, storming into a room and getting utterly destroyed by the archaic enemy A.I. I remember when a single misstep would alert every enemy in the area but what remember most was the intensity of having to put thought into every action. The Tom Clancy lineup of video games were once known for their intense gameplay, but it’s been a very long time since a Tom Clancy game captured that same feeling of intensity. Rainbow Six: Siege did it with a gameplay trailer.
For those unfamiliar, Rainbow Six: Siege was revealed at the end of Ubisoft’s E3 Media Briefing and showcased a full multiplayer match. Rainbow Six: Siege replaces the cancelled Rainbow 6: Patriots which was in development hell for many years. In this new game, there are two teams of five, one team defends an objective (a hostage in the demo) and the other team attacks. Before the match begins, both teams have the opportunity to make preparations. The terrorists on defense can board up doors and windows and the attacking team can scout via drones and choose where to attack from. This isn’t a standard deathmatch however, as the demo showcased there are no respawns. This is true, tactical multiplayer shooter gameplay at its finest.
The Rainbow Six series has been absent for quite some time. The most recent game in the series, Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, was released back in 2008. As a matter of fact, the Tom Clancy brand of video games haven’t had much of a presence outside of the Splinter Cell series. The reason behind this is quite simple, the Tom Clancy games have never had anywhere near enough appeal to compete with the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield. Ubisoft has also (understandably) been paying more attention to the Assassin’s Creed series. The Tom Clancy brand is no longer Ubisoft’s bread and butter.
You may find it hard to believe, but back in the late ’90s, the military-based shooter was a niche genre. The Rainbow Six games were the closest thing to trusted brand for tactical military shooters. This was before Battlefield and Call of Duty came along and popularized the genre. This was when military shooters weren’t all about macho gunplay and saving the world. There were no set-piece moments, no exploding corridors or collapsing buildings. It seems a beautiful touch of irony that just as Battlefield and Call of Duty are beginning to move away from militarization and into futuristic settings (or Cops and Robbers), the Rainbow Six series seems to be making a comeback.
The key word for Rainbow Six: Siege is “tactics.” The players are required to plan out their actions in advance and adapt their strategy as the situation changes. It’s been a long time since a game in the shooter genre required players to put thought into their actions. The lack of respawns and the limited number of players means that every decision matters and even a single mistake can tilt the game in someone’s favor. Cooperation and coordination with your teammates is immensely important. Rainbow Six: Siege also looks to deliver on a promise that’s gone mostly unfulfilled for almost a decade.
To anyone who has even a remote interest in first-person shooters, you should be familiar with the phrase “destructible environments.” Unfortunately this pairing of words is perhaps the single greatest empty promise in the last decade of gaming. With very few exceptions (Bad Company 2 and Crysis), no first-person shooter has successfully delivered on this promise though too many shooters to list have claimed to feature it. The technology on display in the E3 demo for Rainbow Six: Siege is absolutely stunning and better yet, it factors into the gameplay. There are weapons such as the shotgun, that are specifically designed to create holes in the walls that are big enough to shoot through, and if all else fails, you can place a breaching charge and bring the entire wall down.
Games with a multiplayer focus such as Left 4 Dead and Titanfall succeed or fail on the strength of their level design and if the first level is any indication, Rainbow Six: Siege will be a success. It’s had one of the most impressive gameplay debuts that I’ve seen in a long time. It quite possibly could single-handedly revitalize the tactical shooter genre. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited to play a first-person shooter and that’s why for me, Rainbow Six: Siege is a must-buy.