Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six returns, this time with a wider eye for theatrics.
Published on Nov 22, 2011
The unveiling of the latest instalment in the interminable line of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six franchise emerges amid a surprising cloud of intrigue.
Aside from the premature release of the footage (due to, as creative director David Sears states, an impending leak), the announcement trailer and accompanying screenshots are packed with hints that suggest a bold new direction for the series, if not totally unfamiliar and slightly derivative of the prevalent genre tropes shared by many recent titles.
Controversy is the true calling card of any contemporary military-based shooter worth its Kevlar, and Rainbow 6 appears to be playing catch-up with the likes of Modern Warfare, Medal Of Honor and Homefront – all of which explored moral ambiguities to varying success between the raw glam of emptying your chamber towards expendable adversaries.
No doubt both the wife being held captured (bloody and beaten) at knifepoint, along with a family-man-turned-suicide-bomber clinging onto survival are the two most attention grabbing elements, but it appears to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Concept art released reveals one of the lead terrorist characters to be a family man with a young child. The terrorist group dubbed True Patriots aren’t your average bag of baddies either; instead, they’re a thoroughly relatable revolutionary cell determined to gain retribution on an American government corrupted by bent politicians and corporate greed.
Through the course of the trailer, the multiple perspectives on the scenario are deftly balanced. Starting with an intimate (if, perhaps, slightly misogynistic) opening between a man and his wife, the chaos begins as the True Patriots burst through the family’s front door, assaulting the man and wife while the shrill cries of a baby can be heard upstairs – Ubisoft Montreal has sufficiently upped the shock factor to an explicit extent.
However groan worthy this part was, it at least offers a little more depth that most FPS games don't bother to try.
When the man awakens, he finds himself in a van stranded on the Brooklyn Bridge and now strapped with a bomb across his chest. His objective is to reach Times Square, otherwise the terrorist group will murder his family. The perspective then shifts to Team Rainbow, the player-character sniping terrorists high above the bridge, while commanding the squad on the ground.
It's here, over halfway through the trailer, that the first glimpse of recognisable Rainbow 6 gameplay can be seen. Squad mechanics are present (as well as abseiling, for those worried about a lack of verticality) but it’s all underpinned by a heightened sense of bombast; a refined aesthetic resembling the genre’s most notorious, rather than the calculated charm and open exploration found in the likes of the two Vegas instalments.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the trailer comes during the opening moments set within the family abode. Here, clearly riffing on the interactive storytelling mechanics pioneered by Quantic Dream’s glum Heavy Rain, various actions are presented with button prompts – simple day-to-day movements, such as picking up the television remote, standing up and kissing your wife.
As unimaginative as the sequence appears, it insinuates a diversity of choice across moments that have the potential to resonate with players unlike any shooter on the market.
While Ubisoft has expressed that the trailer is not actual gameplay footage (even if it looks remarkably like it), these prompted choices suggest a broadened scope, daring to encompass multiple gameplay facets in a genre that often squanders innovation.
While seemingly arbitrary, it’s an interesting narrative tool and one that could potentially prove a more valid and subtle way of providing exposition. Could Rainbow 6: Patriots convey moral quandaries and add commentary on modern warfare with an unseen poise in the genre?
The suicide bomb plot device is the type of tabloid-baiting controversy that’ll likely garner the right type of publicity nearer to release.
Probably not, but it’s an ambitious endeavour and a new lease of life into the Rainbow 6 franchise, nonetheless. While Patriots’ unveiling may be half-baked, there’s no denying the potential in the ideas showcased.
If the script proves to be as equally polished as the ideas on show, Ubisoft might finally find itself a contender in a much larger conflict.