Rainbow Six: Siege PreviewDeveloper:
PC, Xbox One, PS4
When Rainbow Six: Siege debuted at E3 last year. I immediately saw its potential as a successor to Irrational Games' exceptional SWAT 4. The confined yet complex level design, the multiple entry points, the explosive gadgetry, the slick teamwork, it pressed all the right buttons for a fan of close-quarters tactical FPS'. But the demo video was clearly more choreographed than a politician's hand gestures, and I questioned how much relation it would bear to the final product. Last week Ubisoft allowed us access to the game's alpha build. After a few days in the Siege's company, it's clear that, so far anyway, Ubisoft are walking the talk.
The alpha comprised of two multiplayer maps, both of which bid a squad of five special-forces operatives to rescue a hostage from a team of five paramilitaries. All the terrorists need to do is prevent this from happening. A round of Siege is split into three stages. There's the pre-game stage in which players select their role in the squad and vote on where in the chosen map they should spawn. Next comes the preparation stage, where the terrorists fortify their position using barricades, traps, and various other equipment. Meanwhile, the counter-terrorists attempt to locate the hostage using cute little mobile cameras. Finally, there's the action phase, which in the most basic terms is akin to a slower, more thoughtful round of Counter-Strike.
My initial experience of Siege was a little confusing, though this was more down to the nature of the Alpha rather than problems with the game. I was dropped immediately into a match, and as I frantically tried to figure out the controls, I accidentally threw a grenade at the wall rather than planting a breaching charge. Miraculously nobody was hurt, although later on another player made the same mistake and blew up our entire team.
Teething problems aside, I was impressed by how Siege subtly encourages players to work together. Before the round has started, you need to decide where to hole up as the terrorists, or launch your assault as the counter-terrorists. Already you're interacting with your team, communicating voicelessly, making decisions together.
What's more, each character possesses a unique ability, such as a sledgehammer for battering through the paramilitary barricades, or a heartbeat sensor for spotting CT's through walls. While it isn't immediately obvious which character does what, after a while you come to learn what role your squaddie is best suited for, and more importantly, when to let other players assume the roles they need to.