Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six is a tactical shooter computer game and the first in the Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Franchise. It was developed and published by Red Storm Entertainment for the PC in 1998. It was later ported to Mac OS, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Dreamcast and Game Boy Color. An expansion pack, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Mission Pack: Eagle Watch, was released on January 31, 1999. The original PlayStation version is available for download from the PlayStation Store.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six is also one of twenty games that came with the PlayStation Classic console released by Sony on December 3, 2018. This version of the game includes a save state feature.
Rainbow Six is a tactical shooter, which focuses more on stealth and tactics than on sheer firepower. To add to the realism, all in-game characters, terrorists, hostages and Rainbow operatives, can be wounded or dispatched in just fractions of a second. Tools such as thicker body armor, automatic rifles, and grenades have little value before the player grows accustomed to the gameplay.
Before each mission is a planning stage, during which the player is given a briefing, and then chooses the operatives to be involved in the mission, their weapons, equipment and uniforms. The planning stage determined elements such as the path the AI-controlled squads would follow during the mission, as well as where they will deploy devices such as flashbangs or door breaching charges.
Successful missions often last just minutes, but may require dozens of repetitions and planning changes. During gameplay, the player controls only one team member directly, and can see stats for that member and all units on the Heads-Up Display. Teams not under player control follow the orders given to them in the planning stage. The player can take control of any living operative at will, making them the leader. Any casualties that occur during a mission are permanent, so the deceased cannot be used in future missions. Consequently, many players replay missions that are technically successful merely to reduce the number of casualties.
In 1999, RAINBOW is a newly created multinational counter-terrorism unit, composed of elite soldiers from NATO countries, formed to address the growing problem of international terrorism. The organization's director is John Clark, and the team leader is Ding Chavez. The term "Rainbow Six" refers to the director of the organization, John Clark.
Soon after its inauguration and rescue of biological expert Catherine Winston in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, RAINBOW finds itself responding to a series of seemingly unrelated terrorist attacks by the Phoenix Group, a radical eco-terrorist organization. Throughout its investigation, RAINBOW is assisted and advised by John Brightling, chairman of the powerful bio-tech corporation Horizon Inc., and Anne Lang, Brightling's former college classmate at Cornell University.
RAINBOW discovers that the Phoenix Group set up a level 4 biological facility in Twin Falls, Idaho, meaning that RAINBOW operatives would require biosuits. They neutralize the terrorists and Winston eventually finds out that Lang was associated with the Phoenix Group. RAINBOW successfully carries out a recon mission, verifying all of Winston's evidence. John Clark discovers that Brightling also was associated with the Phoenix Group. Again, RAINBOW carries out a recon mission with success.
RAINBOW succeeds in preventing the release of the virus at the Olympic games, and Brightling and his collaborators retreat to their Horizon Ark facility in the Brazilian jungle, from which they had originally planned to weather out the global holocaust. RAINBOW infiltrates the facility, killing all of Brightling's collaborators and capturing Brightling himself.
There are sixteen different missions available in Rainbow Six.
Multiplayer matches pits two teams of players against one another to complete varying objectives. The game was popular on the Mplayer.com and Zone.com services and for a time featured a thriving competitive clan-based community with numerous independent ladder style leagues.
Rainbow Six features sixteen multiplayer maps, each based on their singleplayer mission counterparts.
Red Storm had originally planned to do a special operations game featuring first-person action, and a team of operators rescuing hostages and taking out terrorists. Their first concept was modeled after the American FBI Hostage Rescue Team. Later they decided to make the concept more international, as HRT would only operate in the US, and renamed it "Black Ops" and incorporated operators from all over the world. It was then they found that Tom Clancy was writing a book about terrorism and a special team to combat it, so they rewrote some of the missions to fit within the book plot. The book was Rainbow Six so the game was renamed Rainbow Six. However, by the time they finished the game, the book was not yet finished. Thus, the plot of the game does not completely match the plot of the book.
- In the Dreamcast version of the game, the opening uses the map for Operation: Hero Claw, a mission from the second game, Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear.
- Unlike the other versions, the PlayStation version actually showed the gun being held in the player's hands.