Sunday, 24 June 2012

Tom and Me - Part One: I can see a Rainbow

It all started in Dartmouth in 1997.
I’d gone down there for a week with my parents and my best mate, Chris. At the time, I was reading The Runaway Jury by John Grisham. Chris had brought with him a 3 book boxed set called Tom Clancy’s Op-Centre.
I read a few chapters of the first book and really got into it. Now, anyone familiar with Tom Clancy will know that while he has written the Jack Ryan series himself, there are a number of books where he has come up with the concept and other authors have done the leg-work. Op-Centre is one of these, along with Netforce and Powerplays.
I enjoyed the world in which Op-Centre existed, so I explored the Tom Clancy range a little more and I came across a massive doorstop of a book called Rainbow Six. This one, Clancy had written himself about an elite counter-terrorist unit.
Even though I couldn’t read it in bed for fear of me nodding off and it hitting me in the face, I loved this book. So imagine how I felt when I was wandering around HMV one day and noticed Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six playing on the PlayStation in the corner. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it had a great atmosphere to this game.
It’s sequel – Rogue Spear came next and that was followed by the brilliant Raven Shield on the PC.

After that, things started to unravel. Rainbow Six: Lockdown on the PS2 was alright, but gone were any planning stages. Team Rainbow was no longer a stealthy, efficient band of operatives – the best of the best. They were a SWAT team who booted the door in and sprayed the room with bullets. The franchise was being dumbed down for mass market appeal and this continued onto the next gen consoles with Rainbow Six Vegas 1 and 2. They were good games and the bright lights of Vegas were impressive, but ultimately they failed to capture what Rainbow had once been.

Rainbow Six Patriots is out next year, but we’ve had little in the way of details as yet. I still believe there’s gold to be found again at the end of this rainbow, but once a franchise has dumbed down, does it ever return to its roots?

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