Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Technical Difficulties: Rainbow Six FUBAR

7:00 PM on 03.09.2011 // Stephen Turner

[We've been getting a ton of great entries for the Monthly Musing so far -- enough that I can promote a blog every single day this week! Today's blog is brought to you by Stevil, who discusses the decline and evolution of the difficult and unforgiving tactical shooter genre. There is also a jazzy chart. If you haven't written a blog on the topic yet, I still need promotions for the rest of the month! Go ahead and post something, and you might end up seeing your work on the front page. - JRo]

If you’ve ever played the original Rainbow Six trilogy, then you’ll be acquainted with the Groundhog Day feeling that accompanies their missions.

A textbook hostage situation can become undeserved nightmare if you’ve badly timed an order or failed to recon a specific area, and so, after much resignation, you’ll begin Rescue Attempt #57 (and counting). Finally, with all mistakes rectified, you slice through the opposition like a ghost and it feels glorious.

Despite their frustrations, real time tactical shooters are sorely missing in today’s generation of videogames. The thinking man’s FPS has made way for accessible cinematic spectacles and while it’s justifiable, it does evidently point out how developers have always been reluctant to create them. The likes of Rainbow Six and SWAT have either mutated into action hybrids or completely slid off the map respectively.

With an increasing emphasis on better storytelling, what place does a tactical simulation have in these imaginative worlds?

The original Rainbow Six trilogy had plots, but political intrigue was paraded in the background. Your role was merely to guide specialists through tense last-resort situations. These were videogames primarily about tactics; level designs that focused heavily on stealth kills, timing, and team co-ordination. Much of the intensity comes from advantageous breaching and clearing, with fire-fights barely lasting a second.

The replay value, however, wasn’t created from success. It was based around failure and refinement, requiring you to tweak the planning stage repetitively until perfection. Even on the ground, you were continually improvising when you spotted unknown variables. With such a focus on hardcore strategy, it’s no wonder the original Rainbow Six would eventually become an acquired taste, especially when you move away from real world terrorism into something more fantastical and post-9/11, as with R6: Vegas.

So, how do you make something heavily focus on intimate combat and somehow entertain with narrative gratification simultaneously?

Nobody wants to repeat a lengthy set-piece because of failure, yet the same people don’t want to see a franchise lose its core identity to checkpoints and regenerative health. Unfortunately, you can’t have one without sacrificing another, and this theory can be put on a sliding scale with three major points:



Very few titles have that balance of narrative and tactics. When they do, it’s boiled down to a self-contained situation. A perfect example would be SWAT 4; probably the last real time tactical shooter of its kind and one that stands out from the crowd by telling stories through its presentation.

Two missions come to mind that assimilate the two factors smoothly - one is the infamous Fairfax Residence, and the other is a cult squatting in a derelict apartment. SWAT 4 streamlines the pre-stage planning and lets you command on the fly. By doing so, you’re already being thrust into the unknown. Now, add to that a scenario that gets increasingly horrific as you progress, with comrades becoming equally unnerved, and it’s a great recipe for cautionary atmospherics.

SWAT 4 is far from perfect, and the flaws lie within its realism. The team can only three hits before becoming incapacitated, and that’s fine for a one-off situation, but how do you make that work over a whole campaign, one where the characters need to stay alive for the sake of the narrative?

One prominent solution is to ditch the realism and turn NPCs into near-invincible bullet sponges. At a cost, tactics are streamlined to the point where you play a backseat driver, e.g. Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. WWII shooter Brothers in Arms is a similar streamlined franchise that tries to make you care about your fellow men, but what’s the point if they’ll always die in scripted scenes?

That’s obviously no good and it’s not going to appease anyone if you put them in a military simulation where nobody can actually die, e.g. Call of Duty. There’s a lack of risk/reward strategy involved and accompanying immersion breaking to boot.

So we turn to online co-op for our immersive risks. Videogames like Operation Flashpoint and Left 4 Dead offer some semblances of tactics in their plotted scenarios, but the communication comes from real people. The stories are there in-progress, but ultimately, the situations are slight in comparison to single player experiences such as Rainbow Six: Vegas to prevent endless déjà-vu with skill fluctuating comrades.

As we careen forwards into cinematic emulation, narrative and tactics are tectonic. You can be entertained as an actor ‘playing soldiers’ in Call of Duty or you endure frustration and reward as a simulated soldier in Rainbow Six. Either way, you can’t truly complain about a videogame being too hardcore or equally shallow in its approach because the middle ground is achieved with sliding scale sacrifices.



Stephen Turner, Podcast Crasher, Total Hack
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Once worked in a chocolate factory. There were no Oompa Loompas. Thanks for reading! more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

SpaghettiOReilly avatarSpaghettiOReilly
And when I said "as" I meant "this." The funk has ruined my mind.
SpaghettiOReilly avatarSpaghettiOReilly
It's been ages since I've been as addicted to a game. That changed yesterday. I can't stop playing Crypt of the Necrodancer. Send help. My hands hurt.
JPF720 avatarJPF720
As I'm back to studying, I can't help but recall that while it took me a week to read 10 pages of psychology theory I managed to read an analysis on Killer7's plot, that was 100 pages long, in a day. Good times.
WryGuy avatarWryGuy
"I don't trust you, pal." "Well I don't trust YOU, guy." "I don't trust ANY of you, friend." This has basically been the Marvel themed Werewolf game we're having in the forums right now. Real popcorn material.
JohnSmith123 avatarJohnSmith123
"I don't have time to explain why I don't have time to explain." Then she explains anyway.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
id Tech 5 is a damn fine engine, but it's way ahead of its time. If The New Order and The Old Blood together need almost 70 GB of space, I cringe just to think what an open world game would need using that engine.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I'm definitely snatching Quantum Break on Xbox One so I can get dat crossbuy. Screw the haters, I'm excited for it and it's exactly what I hoped for when it comes to W10 exclusive gaming and crossbuy.
VIRGO avatarVIRGO
I've done nothing but read Pointandclickbait.com articles and now that's all I want to write like...
Ckarasu avatarCkarasu
People who think that Smash 4 balance patches aren't coming because Sakurai said development has ended don't know anything. I doubt he'd just drop the characters and leave, given the potential balance issues. He's a professional, not an amateur.
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Starting over from scratch after dying in a roguelike MMO
Occams avatarOccams
I've been listening to the live stream of the phone call with the remaining militia jackasses in Oregon all morning and its the saddest, funniest thing I've heard in a while.
FakePlasticTree avatarFakePlasticTree
Next South Park RPG is releasing in the first fiscal year of 2017, apparently. It'll probably be fractured but whole. Can't wait! D':
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Waaaait a minute... From a design standpoint.. Wouldn't a bodysuit look better with shoes/boots, thus .GASP. precluding bare feet? Say it aint so! :'''(
gajknight avatargajknight
Hey guys, there's a new episode of PStoid up. You should go listen to it, I hear Phil takes his shirt off. I mean, it's a podcast so you can't see it. But you can IMAGINE it!
Larxinostic avatarLarxinostic
Yesterday, I brought a banana with me to my job for my lunch break. Some yokel must have swiped it, for I never saw it again, nor got to eat it. My response when: [img]http://i.imgur.com/wrZt8SO.png[/img]
darrenhupke avatardarrenhupke
"At launch, playing through most of the single player content will give you enough Fight Money to get Alex for free!" Will it be possible to earn enough FC by April for the next character DLC? I'm guessing not.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Right, looking for advice. Just redeemed four old XCOM games from a humble bundle a few years back, so I wanted advice on which one I should give a looksie to first. Got 5 choices, kind of thinking terror from the deep or apocalypse. Any suggestions?
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Never be first to avert your eyes when locked in a staring contest with a cat. You must push through the pain if you ever wish to become truly whole, to win this eternal conflict of wills. Bonus XP is awarded on Thursdays!
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
S Magala Plate first fight! :D
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
I have basic knowledge of two other languages (with certificates to prove so) and I decided today that soon I shall be fluent in both. One at a time though.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -