It seems gamers have finally got bored of playing with themselves. Recent first person shooters – Halo 5: Guardians; Call Of Duty: Black Ops III – have begun sidelining their single-player campaigns in favour of concentrating on the ever-expanding interest in online multiplayer modes, where players team up with or fight against each other across a variety of battlegrounds. After all, why bother memorising the pre-planned routines of your enemies when it’s much more of a challenge (and better schadenfreude) taking down a sentient, unpredictable human opponent?
Often these games are little more than brutal free-for-all fire-fights differing only in weaponry and scenery, but the 19th edition of Baltimore author Tom Clancy’s realistic SAS-simulation Rainbow Six franchise – the first since 2008’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 – takes a more cat-and-mouse approach. The solo ‘campaign’ is basically an extended training stage. Voiced by Oscar-nominated actor Angela Bassett, Six is the deputy director of the Rainbow Six counter-terrorism unit. She sends you to foil terrorist plots in order to introduce you to the different operatives you can play and their various skills in explosives, electric charges or brute force. After that, you’re thrust into multiplayer siege scenarios in condensed locations – an aeroplane, a mountain chalet, a warehouse. The crew defending their hostage or piece of world-changing technology set traps and barricade themselves in. Meanwhile, the attacking team send mobile drones to scout their assault, then literally shoot, batter and blast through the walls to wipe them out – the game prides itself on how pretty much everything is destructible.
The locations are limited, the gameplay is rather repetitive and, to get the most out of TCRSS it’ll take a gang of friends dedicated to synchronising watches and intricately scouting every location until they’ve developed code words for the weakest entry points. But for a dose of tense, paranoid adrenalin, crouching under a desk waiting for a wall to explode can’t be beat.