Posted on 03-11-2007
Filed Under (Game Stories) by NightCrawler on 03-11-2007

As you might already know, I have been writing about serial PC games in my last couple of stories, with those being the Battlefield, Delta Force and Half-Life Series.  Well I will not disappoint anyone here that I would like to chat about another gaming franchise that has, or previously had, its own “cult” following within the gaming community, until at least one of the latest releases.  The PC game franchise that I am referring to is named the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six series of Tactical Shooters (TS), which is somewhat of a First-Person Shooter (FPS) that has some added responsibilities.  And at this time I want to advise everyone that I own each and every title addressed here, except two, and when I get to them, I will try to explain why. 

First I have to explain that in Tactical Shooters you are set into play by first having a complete briefing of the mission, the ability to outfit your entire team’s equipment, and completely plan out your avenues of approach, waypoints, and actions within a specific area or room.  I know others may have a different explanation or definition, but this is mine.  Other games that are in this TS category are the Brothers in Arms series, Delta Force series, SWAT 3&4, the original Ghost Recon, Operation Flashpoint, and America’s Army.

200px-rainbowsixbox.jpgboxart_eaglewatch.jpgBut getting back to the “meat” of this column, the first game of that exciting series was appropriately named Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, and it made its PC debut on August 21, 1998.  The author of the novel of the same name, Tom Clancy, placed his name on the PC title with the developer’s (Red Storm Entertainment) blessing, since he was actively involved in the games development, missions, and core theme.   I will make only one comment concerning what it did for the PC gaming community, because if I added more it would only be my personal opinion and may “set some people off“, but to me it changed the way FPS games were to be played from its inception.  I know this comment may also make some of the Doom and Quake players upset, however, in this type of environment you just cannot “run & gun” around a map, shoot everyone in sight, expect to survive, be successful at your primary objective, and be able to advance to the next map, without having some sort of preset plan in place.  This game made you “think” in more ways than just one dimensional.  In January 1999, the mission pack Eagle Watch made its entrance and gave us awaiting gamers more missions to complete and to keep the interest churning concerning Rainbow Six

250px-roguespear_box.jpgboxart_urbanoperations.jpgThe second installment of the series came out on September 22, 1999, and its name was Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear.  The game pits the same counter-terrorist unit, Rainbow, against global terrorist organizations that in some cases have taken hostages or have armed themselves with weapons of mass destruction.  In turn, Rogue Spear, like its predecessor, puts focus on realism, planning, strategy, and teamwork rather than arcade-style shoot-em-ups such as Doom or Quake.   The first expansion pack for RS came out on April 4, 2000, and was named Urban Operations, and it added 8 new maps along with 4 new weapons, and 5 classic Rainbow Six maps from the original Rainbow Six game. 

boxart_covertops.jpgIn August 2000, Covert Ops Essentials was released as a standalone product, I personally don’t think it was received well by the Rainbow Six community.  Why do I say that?  Because it was deemed by many as half Rainbow Six mission pack and half civil service test simulator, which did not sit well with many gamers including myself.  The 3 single-player missions contained by the Essentials Mission Disk were just were not up-to-par as the previous Rogue Spear maps were.  

boxart_blackthorn.jpgBut when the third official expansion pack for Rogue Spear was released on September 15, 2001, named Black Thorn, I believe everyone breathed a new sigh of relief that their beloved Rainbow Six was back!  Black Thorn featured 9 new single-player maps, 6 new multiplayer maps, 10 new weapons, and a new multiplayer variation called “Lone Wolf“.   I personally spent many hours planning, executing, and playing that expansion pack.  The one thing that I always liked about the Rainbow Six series in itself was the fact that different approaches, tactics, and even the way you cleared a room or area of terrorists, could be changed each time you played the same map and the outcome would be different than the last.  Was that good or bad?  I believe so, because it tought you what you could and could not do to gain a successful outcome to the mission.

boxart_sumofallfears.gifWhen The Sum of All Fears came out on May 31, 2002, I believe almost every Rainbow Six veteran choked, IF they actually purchased this game.  This game used a significantly simplified version of the gameplay seen in the Rainbow Six series and there was no planning phase to each mission, but instead the player’s 3-man team executes a pre-planned insertion with other anti-terrorist teams solely controlled by the computer.  The player also could not individually select the equipment each team member carries which was a basic system in each and every Rainbow Six title, instead, the player choses from a small selection of pre-defined equipment packages for the entire team.  Even the in-game play’s rudimentary commands to teammates, such as “wait here”, “follow me”, and “clear/grenade/flashbang the next room” was totally eliminated.  This game in my opinion was just something placed out to the community as a movie “tie-in” of the same name.

256px-rainbowsix3.jpgboxart_athenasword.jpg180px-rs3ironwrath.jpgAfter that bad taste in the mouth was finally over, Red Storm introduced to everyone Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield on March 16, 2003.  The popularity of Raven Shield was shown when it was nominated for many game reviewers’ awards, including Best Sound Effects, Best Action Game, and Best PC Game (at GameSpy, GameSpot, PC Gamer & Computer Gaming World Magazines, among others).  This installment of the game really made this game populartised the franchise to a point of it, in some circles, was catagorized as a “supergame”, if there ever was one.  Following up on the Raven Shield extreme popularity was its first expansion pack named Athena Sword, which made its appearance on March 9, 2004.  It expanded on the original by adding 8 new missions, 5 new multiplayer missions, 3 new multiplayer gamemodes, and 7 new weapons.  Iron Wrath was the second expansion for the PC version of Raven Shield and was in production for almost 2 years before Ubisoft, its developer, decided to release it as a free download on June 9, 2005 to Fileplanet subscribers. The Iron Wrath expansion featured a 7-mission campaign, 2 classic missions, 8 new multiplayer maps, as well as 6 new weapons.

230px-r6l_pc.jpgWhich gets me to one of the most recent, and by some within the community regards, and was considered at the time, possibly the final Rainbow Six PC game, but that was not the case.  On Febrary 10, 2006, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Lockdown was released to a very shocked public that was eagerly awaiting this title to see all the improvements that could be accomplished through modern technology.  I want to first say that I did not purchase this game, however, I have played it on a friends machine and I have to personally say that the feel in this release was more fast-paced and more arcadic than what a “tactical shooter” of the Rainbow Six genre or type should be.  The professional reviewers, along with the many members of the Rainbow Six Community, including myself, has rejected this title, in that it veered too far towards being an arcade style of game over a Tactical Shooter

tcr6vcov11.jpgOn December 12, 2006, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas, made its appearance and was hailed by many as a welcome edition into the Rainbow Six Community.  Vegas has won numerous awards, including “Best First-Person Shooter” and “Best Online Game” in IGN’s Best of 2006, as well as an “Editor’s Choice Award” from GameSpot.  It has also received many positive reviews from both online publications and the most popular gaming magazines around.  However, some in the Rainbow Six community, including myself, have expressed vast disappointment that the game requires a video card that supports Shader Model 3.0, thus preventing many PC owners with low-end graphics cards from playing the game.  And that is the only reason that I have not purchased that game is because I currently don’t have the video card to support it.  Hopefully soon down the road I will upgrade my PC to finally get to see what all of the fuss was all about. 

Today the question on everybodies collective minds is there going to be another edition to the Rainbow Six series?  There has not been any word from either Ubisoft, the publisher, or RedStorm Entertainment, the developer, if there is one either in development or in the works.  I would hate to see a very popular and also very good PC gaming series come to an end after so many years of entertaining us through the years.  But if that is finally the case, I can honestly say I enjoyed each and every Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six title that I played to the fullest and concerning the whole franchise, I did got my monies worth!

Thank You RedStorm Entertainment!

Next Up: Your Call of Duty….

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