Video Game Thoughts: Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six was a 1998 tactical shooter game by Red Storm Entertainment that I played on the Nintendo 64. It was loosely based on the book by Tom Clancy. I was introduced to Rainbow Six through a friend, who had the game on the PC. My computer wasn’t good enough for gaming. A year later, the game was ported to the Nintendo 64. I was a teenager and really interested in the mature games now. I still liked the typical Nintendo games, but I was ready to play some more realistic games too.

Rainbow Six promised to be a serious game with a serious story. It was about an elite international counter-terrorist group. Most missions involved saving hostages or defusing bombs. The player could only control one teammate during a mission, so the rest had to be given orders through an intricate pre-mission planning system. I thought it was really fun deciding how best to approach each situation. The player got to choose which teammates to use on each mission, what equipment to give them, and where they should walk. The teammates each had AI to automatically shoot down terrorists that came into their vision. Each of them also had various stats like shooting accuracy and reaction time.

Because Rainbow Six was a serious game, a teammate that was killed was gone for the rest of the game. If they were injured, they suffered penalties to their stats for the rest of the game. Each successful mission rewarded the team with money to buy equipment. If I wasted too much money, I might get stuck on a mission without any way to correct the problem besides restarting the game from scratch.

I had a lot of fun with Rainbow Six, but it had a few big flaws. Number one was its length. It was really cool planning out all the missions, seeing what worked and what didn’t, but it was over way too fast. I think I finished the whole game on the easiest difficulty the first weekend I got the game. Even the highest difficulty didn’t make much difference. My teammates might die, but I was usually able to make it on my own.

Another problem was the lack of story. The story was pretty cool but they just didn’t have enough of it. Each mission had a short briefing with some story about what led up the mission and why it was important, but there were no short movies or characters talking to liven things up. The missions themselves were almost silent. It was realistic, so there was no music, just the occasional chatter from teammates. That was fine, but I never met any interesting people. The terrorists and hostages were pretty much mute. No missions ever changed in the middle that required some story elements to guide the player.

Rainbow Six was more of a disappointment because it was a gift from my best friends. Around my birthday, they came up with a plan to surprise me. I knew something was going on because they were telling me to keep walking ahead of them during our recess times. They didn’t want me to hear them talking about their plans for my birthday. They knew I wanted this game because we always talked about what games we were looking forward too.

I was really happy when they gave me Rainbow Six for my birthday but really disappointed when I saw the game wasn’t going to occupy me for long. I wanted to be nice to my friends though, so I said I had a great time with the game. They had never spent that much money for my birthday present. I didn’t want them to feel like I didn’t appreciate the effort they put in getting me a new game. One of those friends moved away just a few months later. His family moved across the country. Him helping get this gift has always been a nice memory I’ve had about him. I wish he never had to move away because he was one of my best friends. I had known him for five years by then, really an eternity for a young kid.

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