The best Tom Clancy games: A great storyteller’s lasting legacy

Tom Clancy passed away today aged 66. The best-selling author left an irreplaceable mark on the gaming industry that will see his name live on anchoring games such as The Division.

In 1996 Clancy co-founded developer Red Storm Entertainment. Its first game was Tom Clancy’s Politika, likened to Risk, for PC before Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six proved their worth in 1998.

But that’s not where games began for the celebrated storyteller. Clancy’s first foray into video games was all the way back in 1987 when his book The Hunt for Red October was made into a submarine simulation game for the Apple II and Commodore 64. Another version was made three years later to coincide with the movie.

Ubisoft purchased Red Storm in 2000 and continued to use the Tom Clancy name; although, it’s unknown how much he continued to be involved, if at all, from then until Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist, the last game released before he died.

Nevertheless, it’s only fitting that we take a look back at the best Tom Clancy games.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six (1998)

Beginning life as a novel in 1998, Rainbow Six was the game that launched Red Storm as a renowned studio. Development had already begun on a game surrounding a hostage rescue team, at one stage named Black Ops, when the dev team discovered it was similar to Clancy’s next novel.

The game was renamed Rainbow Six and rewrote to match part of the book. However, as the game was completed before Clancy’s story, it isn’t exactly the same. The tactical shooter was first released on PC, before finding its way to the Nintendo 64, PS1 and Dreamcast. There was even a Game Boy Color version.

By today’s standards, Rainbow Six would be considered frustratingly difficult by many.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon (2001)

Another tactical shooter, Ghost Recon, launched on the PC in 2001, and was ported to the Xbox, PS2 and GameCube over the following 18 months. Ghost Recon isn’t based on any of Clancy’s stories but carries the same vibe as much of his work.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell (2002)

Clancy’s biggest legacy in video games was born with Sam Fisher and Splinter Cell in 2002, even though he didn’t actually create it. Endorsed by Clancy, a novel was written by Raymond Benson, writing under the pseudonym David Michaels, in 2004.

Splinter Cell was praised for its blend of action and stealth gameplay, the characterization of Sam Fisher, amazing visuals and even better lighting effects, for the time.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (2006)

There has been a new Ghost Recon game or expansion every year since its inception, besides a small hiatus in 2008-09, but Advanced Warfighter stands out above the crowd.

GRAW was a “next-gen” marvel on Xbox 360 and PC, while a watered-down version was also offered on PS2 and Xbox (much like the cross-gen games coming out this year). The complete version looked amazing and captivated gamers with its immersive atmosphere.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent (2006)

Considered by many to be the best Splinter Cell game, along with Pandora Tomorrow, Double Agent also found itself spread across two console generations, with the superior version found on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC — in fact, the PS2, Xbox, GameCube and Wii versions had a different story.

Splinter Cell: Double Agent was stealth gaming of the highest caliber. It left you questioning your decisions with just enough time before you had to make the next one lurking in the shadows.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (2008)

I can’t believe there are already 18 instalments in the Rainbow Six franchise — including next year’s Rainbow 6: Patriots, PC expansions and the Korean exclusive Take-Down – Missions in Korea.

Without doubt my favourite is Vegas 2 — not only because it was a great game, but because it was one of very few co-op games this generation I sat down and played from start to finish with someone sitting next to me. We started playing because I thought the repelling looked cool, and before we knew it the game was over and the night peering into the AM hours.

It’s a special type of gaming experience that has become lost in the connected online era.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist (2013)

Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a genuine contender for Game of the Year awards in 2013. It’s as engaging as Conviction but importantly returns the stealthy foundations that made the original and Double Agent so tantalising.

I love the quasi-renewed Sam Fisher and the punishing challenge thrown at him when the surreptitious approach goes horribly wrong. It’s the Splinter Cell game I’ve always wanted to play.

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