Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six (video game)

Summary

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six is a tactical shooter video game and the first in the Rainbow Six series. It was developed and published by Red Storm Entertainment in 1998 for Microsoft Windows. It was ported to Mac OS, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Game Boy Color, and Dreamcast. Based on the Tom Clancy novel of the same name, the game follows Rainbow, a newly-formed international counterterrorist organization, and the conspiracy they unravel as they handle multiple seemingly random terrorist attacks.

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six
Rb6box.jpg
Developer(s)
Publisher(s)
Producer(s)Carl Schnurr
Designer(s)
  • Brian Upton
  • Carl Schnurr
Programmer(s)
  • Brian Upton
  • Peter McMurry
Artist(s)Jonathan Peedin
Composer(s)Bill Brown
SeriesTom Clancy's Rainbow Six
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Mac OS, Game Boy Color, Dreamcast
Release
August 21, 1998
  • Windows
    • NA: August 21, 1998
    • EU: October 1998
  • Nintendo 64
    • NA: November 17, 1999
    • EU: December 1999
  • PlayStation
    • NA: November 23, 1999
    • EU: November 1999
  • Mac OS
    • NA: December 8, 1999
  • Game Boy Color
    • NA: April 3, 2000
    • EU: November 10, 2000
  • Dreamcast
    • NA: May 9, 2000
    • EU: February 2, 2001
Genre(s)Tactical shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

In single-player, the player advances through a series of scenarios by playing missions in a campaign. Every mission initializes with a briefing stage, allowing the player to choose their equipment, coordinate their attacks, and advance the plot. Throughout each mission the player directly controls one team member, and can take control of any living operative. However, any casualties cannot be used in future missions unless the mission is reset. In multiplayer, the game pits two teams of players against each other in order to complete objectives depending on the game mode.

Rainbow Six's PC versions received positive reviews from critics, praised for its audio and immersive feeling, despite being a very difficult game. However, the console versions received lower ratings. In its first year of release it sold over 200,000 copies, accounting to $8.86 million in revenue. Rainbow Six is considered a milestone in first-person shooters and greatly developed the tactical shooter genre.

An expansion pack, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Mission Pack: Eagle Watch, was released on January 31, 1999. On October 29, 2018, Sony revealed that the PAL release of the game would be one of 20 games pre-loaded on the PlayStation Classic (excluding Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong), which was released on December 3, 2018.[1][2]

GameplayEdit

Rainbow Six is a tactical shooter, which focuses more on stealth and tactics than on sheer firepower, exploring the lethality of a single bullet. To add to the realism, all in-game characters including terrorists, hostages, and Rainbow operatives, can be wounded or killed in just fractions of a second with only one or two bullets. Tools such as thicker body armor, automatic rifles, and grenades have little value before the player grows accustomed to the gameplay.

Before each mission is a planning stage, during which the player is given a briefing, and then chooses the operatives to be involved in the mission, their weapons, equipment, and uniform/camouflage. During this step, the player pre-establishes orders and waypoints. The planning stage determines elements such as the path the AI-controlled squads follow during the mission and where they will deploy equipment such as flashbangs or door breaching charges.

The game follows a campaign of 16 missions, with the plot being advanced in the mission briefing of each. Successful missions often last just minutes, but may require dozens of repetitions and planning changes to account for failures, new plans, and simply faster or more streamlined completion. During gameplay, the player controls only one team member directly, and can see stats for that member and all units on the heads-up display. Teams not under player control follow the orders given to them in the planning stage. The player can take control of any living operative at will, making them the leader.

Any casualties that occur during a mission are permanent, so deceased Rainbow operatives cannot be used in future missions. Consequently, many players replay missions that are technically successful merely to reduce the number of casualties.

Online multiplayer gaming was popular on the Mplayer.com and Zone.com services and for a time featured a thriving competitive clan based community with numerous independent ladder style leagues.

Most versions do not show the player's weapon in the first-person, view instead only showing the crosshair and lower HUD. The only exception to this is the PlayStation version, which displays the player's weapon being held in their hands.

PlotEdit

Rainbow Six is set from 1996 to 2000. Rainbow is an international counterterrorist organization, composed of elite soldiers from NATO, Australia, Brazil, Russia, South Korea and Israel, formed to address the growing problem of international terrorism. The organization's director is John Clark, and the team leader is Domingo Chavez. The term "Rainbow Six" refers to Clark's codename.

Soon after its formation, Rainbow finds itself responding to a series of seemingly unrelated terrorist attacks by the Phoenix Group, a radical eco-terrorist organization. Throughout their investigation, Rainbow is assisted and advised by John Brightling, chairman of the powerful biotechnology corporation Horizon Inc., whose facilities are frequently targeted by Phoenix; Anne Lang, the American Science Advisor to the President and an acquaintance of Brightling; and Catherine Winston, a biological expert working with Horizon who is rescued by Rainbow following an attack in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Following an assault on a Phoenix compound in Colorado (the fallout of which results in the United States government temporarily banning Rainbow from operating on American soil) that uncovers evidence they are committing unethical human experimentation, Rainbow learns that the Phoenix Group is actually a front for Horizon itself. Horizon is developing a highly contagious strain of the Ebola virus called "Brahma". Viewing humanity as an environmentally-destructive "disease", Brightling plans to exterminate almost all of the human race using Brahma, sparing only Brightling's chosen few, who will rebuild the planet into a scientific environmentally-friendly utopia. To achieve this goal, he has used the scattered terrorist attacks to create a heightened fear of terrorism, which he is exploiting to gain a security contract for his own private security firm, Global Security, at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Global Security's personnel, led by William Hendrickson, will then release Brahma at the Olympics, spreading the virus across the world when the athletes and spectators return home.

After gathering intelligence and rescuing Winston from a last-ditch attempt to silence her, Rainbow captures Lang and Hendrickson and prevents the release of Brahma at the Olympic Village, foiling Horizon's plans. Brightling and his collaborators flee to their Horizon Ark facility in the Amazon rainforest, from which they had originally planned to weather out the global holocaust. Rainbow assaults the Ark, kills or apprehends Brightling's collaborators, and takes Brightling himself into custody.

DevelopmentEdit

The concept of the game that would become Rainbow Six came from a series of early concepts Red Storm Entertainment had conceived following the company's formation in 1996. Selected from a hundred concepts, the initial concept, titled HRT, followed the FBI Hostage Rescue Team rescuing hostages from criminals and terrorists. As the concept grew, Red Storm expanded the scope of the game, adding covert operations and a more international setting, and the concept was renamed to Black Ops.[3] Red Storm CEO Doug Littlejohns, a former Royal Navy submarine commander and a close friend of Clancy, did not want to develop an arcade shooter with "mindless violence", but also did not want a "boring" slow-paced strategy game, so the game was designed to focus on realism and action, with a strong emphasis on planning and strategy.[4]

The concept of Rainbow Six, both the game and the novel, came from a discussion between Tom Clancy and Littlejohns during a Red Storm company outing in 1996, when Littlejohns mentioned the HRT concept. When Clancy mentioned that he was writing his own novel about a hostage rescue team, their conversation led to Littlejohns noting the protracted diplomatic delays in authorizing a foreign counterterrorist unit's deployment overseas, and he suggested the concept of a permanent counterterrorist unit that already had authorization to deploy internationally. The name "Rainbow" came from the term "Rainbow nation", coined by Desmond Tutu to describe post-apartheid South Africa under Nelson Mandela's presidency. "Six" came from the American rank code for captain (O-6); though John Clark would more accurately be described as a major general (O-8) in the novel, "Rainbow Six" read better than "Rainbow Eight". Lead game designer Brian Upton objected to the addition of "Six", believing having a number at the end of the title would affect a potential sequel, but he was overruled.[4]

Following the game's development doctrine of realism, lead level designer John Sonedecker designed each level to be as accurate and realistic to real-world architecture as possible, noting that the presence of unusual design elements seen in other less-realistic shooters (such as unnecessarily large doors or building layouts seemingly designed for combat) would ruin the player's immersion and affect gameplay.[4] The development team also had access to counterterrorism experts, military trainers, and technical consultants, and used their advice to ensure realism and streamline development by cutting elements deemed unrealistic or unnecessary, such as jumping. These technical consultants also provided motion capture for character animations.[3][4]

By 1997, the game was very behind on schedule, and the developers started crunching. Many developers slept in a spare room of the office.[4] Clancy's involvement in the development process was "minimal", only sending Red Storm an early manuscript of the novel to work plot details into the game (hence why the game's plot has different characters and a slightly different storyline).[3][4] Clancy would also insist the developers add features his experts claimed were realistic, such as the fictional heartbeat sensor used in the novel that functions as a radar-like equipment item in-game.[4] In November 1997, the developers realized the game was becoming too demanding, only having single-digit frame rates on high-end devices, so a massive two-month overhaul was ordered.[3] Despite these setbacks, development still progressed relatively smoothly, and a demonstration at E3 1998 that accidentally displayed AI teammates rescuing hostages by themselves boosted the game's publicity ahead of release.[3][4]

The Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Game Boy Color, and Dreamcast releases of the game were each developed by separate companies.

ReleaseEdit

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six was released for Windows on August 21, 1998 in North America and October 1998 in Europe. The other releases of the game were released gradually over several months between late 1998 and early 2001; the final release of the game, the Dreamcast version, was released on May 9, 2000 in North America and February 2, 2001 in Europe. The game was published by Red Storm Entertainment in North America and Take-Two Interactive in Europe.

Several weeks prior to the game's release, early copies of the game were leaked onto online piracy websites. The users that uploaded the game files reportedly "took credit for 'cracking' a game with no copy protection in it", angering the developers; network programmer Dave Weinstein recalled going on a profanity-laden diatribe in the office, only to be pulled aside by Littlejohns for his volume, having been heard from three offices away.[4]

After the release of the game, Tom Clancy offered to sign copies of the game for Red Storm employees. Several members of the development staff were frustrated by this, as Clancy was relatively uninvolved in development, yet offered signed copies as if it was his.[4]

Eagle WatchEdit

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Mission Pack: Eagle Watch was released on January 31, 1999 as an expansion pack to the original game. It adds five new missions, four new operatives, three new weapons, and new multiplayer modes. The new missions take place in the year 2001 and are a series of scenarios unrelated to each other or the original game, following Rainbow's high-profile operations in landmark locations across the world, such as the Buran spaceplane in Russia, the Taj Mahal in India, and the Forbidden City in China. The expansion was packaged with the original game as Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Gold Pack Edition in 1999.

ReceptionEdit

In the United States, Rainbow Six's Windows release sold 218,183 copies during 1998. These sales accounted for $8.86 million in revenue that year.[46] The computer version's Gold Edition release sold another 321,340 copies in the United States during 1999, and was the country's 12th best-selling computer game that year.[47] According to Gamasutra, Rainbow Six and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear together sold 450,000 copies "during the first half of the 2001/2002 fiscal year".[48]

Next Generation reviewed the PC version of the game, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "In the end, Rainbow Six takes small steps into new territory, succeeding admirably. A brave attempt at something new and an overall fun experience."[38]

Rainbow Six was met with mostly positive reviews on PC. However, the console versions received lower ratings upon release. GameRankings gave it a score of 82% for the PC version;[5] 74% for the Nintendo 64 version;[6] 73% for the Dreamcast version;[9] 54% for the Game Boy Color version;[8] and 48% for the PlayStation version.[7] Metacritic gave only the PC version a score of 85 out of 100.[10]

GameSpot described the PC version as "actually a pretty good game, albeit very hard and extremely frustrating", and its "audio cues, background sounds, and other various noises are also represented very well; the immersive feeling of Rainbow Six is perhaps one of the best seen in a game."[28] CNN, working in partnership with Games.Net, named Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six as one of the "Top 25 game downloads of 1998".[49]

Mike Wolf reviewed the Nintendo 64 version of the game for Next Generation, rating it three stars out of five, and stated that "A fantastic game with some significant flaws, Rainbow Six is worth playing, but it's not a must-have."[39]

Garrett Kenyon reviewed the Dreamcast version of the game for Next Generation, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "An impressive PC translation that Dreamcast owners should certainly consider owning."[40]

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences nominated Rainbow Six for its 1998 "Action Game of the Year" award, although the game lost to Half-Life.[50] Rainbow Six was a finalist for Computer Gaming World's 1998 "Best Action" award, which ultimately went to Battlezone. The editors wrote that Rainbow Six "deftly mixed strategic planning with nail-biting action as it brought the world of counterterrorist operations to life."[51] PC Gamer US named Rainbow Six the best action game of 1998.[46]

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

  • Rainbow Six official website
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six at MobyGames
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six (Dreamcast) at MobyGames
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six (Game Boy Color) at MobyGames