My Gamer Geek Past, Part IV - It Takes Two to Tango Down!

If I had to name the people who had the biggest influence on my life growing up, the top three would look like this:
  1. Mom and Dad
  2. Little Debbie
  3. Tom Clancy
Don't worry, Debbie - you'll get your own blog post someday.

Okay, maybe that's a bit farcical, but I'm not really kidding about Tom Clancy. I've read all his books that are part of the so-called "Ryanverse," meaning they tell part of the story of Jack Ryan. They're great reads, though the language in them could be subdued to a degree. Clancy mastered the political thriller, weaving stories of spies, governments and armies filled with intrigue, conspiracies and a lot of technical terminology.

One of his books, "Rainbow Six," became something bigger when a company called Red Storm Entertainment took the story and adapted it into a video game. The basic premise is that John Clark, a major character in the Ryanverse, forms a team of international counter-terrorist and hostage rescue experts equipped to quickly respond to terrorist incidents around the globe. Though largely drawn from the U.S. and Great Britain, the Rainbow teams also include soldiers from, among others, Canada, Germany, France and Israel.

And Australia, but only for comic relief.

Red Storm took the story and tweaked it somewhat, adding here and changing there, to create a team-based tactical shooting game. The plot involves you uncovering and stopping a plot to wipe out Earth-ruining humanity to make way for a re-population of Earth-loving hippies. That's an oversimplification and over-stupidification of the plot, but read the book: the plan not only seems dastardly logical, but frighteningly possible.

You want to be comfortable when shooting someone from a kilometer away.

For each mission, you form your response team, choose which weapons and tools they'll use, divide them into squads, give them their orders then ship them off to battle. You lead one of the teams, and have the option of changing which character you control mid-mission. You can also modify orders or commands while in the field, making for a constantly customizable game-mission experience.

Just like in real life, planning is complicated. I always did as
little of it as possible. Also like real life.

A lot of the fun is seeing the different environments in which you have objectives to complete, like storming a Belgian embassy, rescuing visitors at a Spanish amusement park, stopping bad guys from blowing up a dam, infiltrating a French mansion and preventing biological weapons from infecting the Olympic Games. Also, each mission has a cool code name, like "Steel Wind" and "Razor Ice" and "Mystic Tiger," few of which actually make any sense.

Note to self: Never turn your back on anything ever.

There is also a wide variety of weapons to play around with - submachine guns, not-so-sub-machine guns, shotguns, pistols, grenades, flash grenades, demolition charges, heartbeat detectors (that tell you where the guys who want to kill you/hostages are) and more. All are modeled after their real-world counterparts, and all act accordingly (as in, just like a shotgun makes a terrible sniper weapon in real life, using a 12-gauge to hit a guy a hundred yards off won't do much more than make a loud noise).

We're going for really quiet here - silenced machine gun: check.
Silenced pistol: check. Flashbang grenades...wait...

Many of the missions involve one of two things: rescue hostages and/or neutralize terrorists, known in-game as "tangos" (nearly every time a terrorist is killed, you hear the "Tango Down!", hence the inspiration for this post's title). Other objectives involve stopping someone from escaping or planting demolition charges on stuff.

Where did he think he was going in a bus?

Not being seen makes your job easier, especially if there are hostages involved, but there are often no penalties for getting your shoot on. That said, every so often the game throws a mission at you where if you are A) seen by terrorists or B) kill any terrorists, you fail. Usually it's because you're trying to sneak into a place and plant a bug or surveillance device, and contact/bodies tend to give the jig up, so to speak.*

The hunchback wasn't doing anything so Rainbow had to step in.

Just like Hollywood, when something's a big success, someone decides there are sequels to be squeezed out. Unlike Hollywood, all of the expansions to Rainbow Six that I played were well worth the time. In summary:
  • Eagle Watch: a five-mission expansion featuring real-world locations like the Taj Mahal, Big Ben and the U.S. Capitol. Added a few new characters and weapons
    • Best mission names: Sapphire Rising
  • Rogue Spear: sequel to Rainbow Six, featuring 18 new missions, a ton of new operatives and weapons, and new locations like a ruined city in Bosnia, a 747 jumbo jet, an opera house, a castle in Azerbaijan and a nuclear power plant 
    • Best mission names: Sand Hammer, Sargasso Fade, Zero Gambit
  • Urban Operations: a five-mission pack for Rogue Spear, each level an urban setting where the battles are close and civilians abound. Locations include a Turkish bazaar, London subway station and Hong Kong hotel. Also features five missions from classic Rainbow Six, modified to allow you to use all the new weapons and characters.
    • Best mission names: Iron Comet, Infinite Seven
  • Covert Ops Essentials: this was a horse of a different color. There were a few new missions and a lot of new weapons, but the main theme was to "train" you to be a covert ops specialist. You can take "courses" about the history, strategy and other areas of counter-terrorism operations
    • Best mission names: Arctic Zebra
  • Black Thorn: bigger than a mission pack, smaller than an expansion. Aside from some new weapons, this add-on has an actual storyline, in which a mentally-disturbed former SAS soldier is recreating terrorist incidents from the past.
    • Best mission names: Spirit Clasp, Blunt Scroll, Broken Scepter

Note before booking: the cruise line will not refund
fares in case of terrorist attack.
A final thought - the Rainbow Six games garnered a large multiplayer following, despite a key difference from other multiplayer shooting games: in those, you die and respawn as needed until the game is over. In Rainbow Six, if you die, the game is over. Still, people liked the maps, weapons, style, realism and authenticity (actual law enforcement agencies have used the games/modified versions of the games for training). The only use I saw for the multi-player aspect was that the maps gave me other playgrounds to explore.

Note to self - never stand near airplane landing gear.

Another final thought - there are numerous sequels not mentioned here that came later. Many were designed for gaming consoles, I never played any of them.

Yeah, Rainbow Six involves killing. Yeah, it's violent. But it was fun. A lot of fun. A lot of repeatable fun. It was a hard one to get rid of, I'll tell you that.

Course, if no one sticks around to hear the music...

*I admitted in the last post that I'm a video game cheater. I cheated a lot through the Rainbow Six games, but most especially when I wasn't supposed to be seen. Fortunately the game-makers designed a cheat that makes you invisible.


Popular Posts