An Opportunity to Explore the Human Condition
Well it’s be rumored for months now – ever since a couple of screen shots were leaked back in June. But this morning Game Informer made it official by unveiling their December 2011 cover. Rainbow Six is back, and from the looks of things, better than ever. Once again, Ubisoft Montreal is at the helm for the next outing of Team Rainbow. But as has been rumored in months past, some major changes are in store for fans of the venerable tactical-shooter series. Ubisoft Montreal seeks to create a shooter with a heart. And with that comes a lot of responsibility to get certain things that games usually do not concern themselves with, right. But also arises the opportunity to take gaming somewhere they rarely ever go, and most specifically shooters, somewhere they have never been before. Inside the human condition.
As a member of a new Team Rainbow cast, players must ask themselves how far they are willing to go to stop the militia.
“Terrorism has evolved, and so has Rainbow 6,” said creative director David Sears. “In Rainbow 6 Patriots, all the team play, tactics, and realism that fans of the series love have been coupled with an exciting new narrative direction. This adds an unprecedented level of humanity that will make Rainbow 6 Patriots an extremely tense and immersive experience.”
A shooter full of moral dilemmas. Not totally unexpected, as the more humanistic shift in the story’s narrative was hinted by the target video that leaked several months back (embedded below). Still however, wow. They are trying to do more with a military shooter, than just merely recruit young, impressionable minds, into infantry positions in our nation’s armed forces. That stated, I think my question to Ubisoft Montreal is, “how far will they go to make this game into something truly human in scale and scope?” Considering Rainbow 6: Patriots‘ subject matter, this will be a halfway wasted effort if over the course of the game, they do not manage to humanize everyone . . . including the terrorists.
True, as a member of Team Rainbow, it’s your job to take’em down – if the good guys don’t win in the end, then it’s hardly entertaining. And to that end, I expect nothing less from the game than to deliver that experience with the kind of tactical aplomb that the Rainbow Six series is already famous for. And true, it’s always easy to demonize anyone, much less terrorists, when they are brown people from the other side of the planet from places that most Americans have a hard time pronouncing. But if Ubisoft Montreal is truly attempting to make a more humanized narrative to shooters (you know, something approaching art), then being able to humanize all parties involved (Team Rainbow, True Patriots, and civies caught in the crossfire), becomes essential for a truly rounded experience that goes the distance, and then comes full circle. Anything other than that, and the game just becomes another in a long line of over glorified recruitment tools that military shooters typify.
After all, based on their objectives, True Patriots motivations are no different than say Occupy Wall Street’s, or even what the Tea Party’s motives were supposed to be about – bringing real change and socio-economic equality to the masses. It’s the same fundamental principles that’s spurring forward recent grass roots movements; it’s the same principles that spurred forward the America Revolution itself in 1776, that saw our nation secede from Great Britain. The ability to sympathize with this cause, is inherently American, even if you totally disagree with the methods (and you should disagree with the methods, as killing innocent people only causes more problems than it solves). And given the current socio-politico-economic climate, who besides the 1%, their puppets in Congress and the White House, and of course the SFPD, wouldn’t sympathize with a group of people who have become so desperate for real change, they were willing to take a step further to get it – it does not mean you have to agree with their methods, or even support their methods, but considering what is going on in the world around us, if at some point while playing the game, you don’t feel some sort of sympathy for the antagonists of the story, either you are a cold-blooded sociopath, or the developers at Ubisoft chickened out of a perfect opportunity to show games are art, and can explore and express all facets of the human condition. And sadly Ubisoft Montreal already has an established track record of avoiding the truly hard questions when given the opportunity to expound upon them. Splinter Cell: Double Agent (both versions) as fun as they were, stand as a testament to how chickenshit video games can be, when faced with the opportunity to truly elevate the medium into a dialog about the human condition.
And considering the main question Rainbow Six: Patriots asks of the player, “How far are you willing to go . . .” it is more important than ever to have some humanizing connectivity to all parties in the game; even the terrorists in the True Patriots movement. After all, ‘how far are you willing to go,” opens up all kinds of opportunities for the player themselves to become the same kinds of monsters, no better than the terrorists they are attempting to stop. And that is a huge moral leap for a video game to attempt to pull off. But one that is ultimately worth it. It’s nice to have beer and pizza, but it is also nice to have a ribeye with a glass of Merlot on occasion. And the problem with the game industry in general, is that every meal is beer and pizza And then as gamers and game developers alike, we have the nerve to get upset when the rest of popular media thumbs their nose at the immaturity of the video game medium. But if the only thing Ubisoft is going to do with Rainbow 6: Patriots, is gloss over, whitewash and ‘patriotize’ the depths such quandaries and actions represent to the human experience, then once again as a medium, we deserve the scorn and derision we receive from other mediums.
I know all this is a tall glass of water to expect from a shooter, but that is only because shooters have almost always been mindless affairs tapping directly into the id of the male subconscious. But because they have always been that, does not mean they always have to be that. If Ubisoft Montreal wanted another one of those, then they . . . shit, well let’s just hope they want to achieve something truly more with Rainbow 6: Patriots. I would really hate for this to turn into just another Call of Duty clone. Not that the series has ever been anything remotely like Call of Duty, just saying that given the popularity of the CoD series, and Ubisoft’s love of money, it would be a sad day to see Rainbow 6: Patriots, wind up being nothing more than Call of Duty: Tactical with a Cover System and some Very Shallow Moral Overtones.