The Tom Clancy franchise has been a part of film, TV and books for almost 40 years — but it's also one of the longest running game franchises too. With the release of Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, the franchise has been a part of video games for over three decades, and it all started with a submarine.
We're all the more reminded about how Tom Clancy's universe has changed the face of our entertainment — and has been doing so for longer than you might expect.
Red Storm Rising(1988)
The first of the book adaptations, Red Storm Rising took its inspiration from a novel of the same name, released in 1986 and co-authored by Larry Bond.
In the book, the reader experiences a third world war, taking place between NATO and Warsaw Pact countries in a fictionalised version of the 80s. Given that the book debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list, it's unsurprising that it became ripe for adaptation.
Thus, the game was born. It's a simulation where the player can pick from a selection of timelines and use a submarine to attack Soviet soldiers in the Norwegian Sea. It also served as the inspiration for Tom Clancy's own video game company, Red Storm Entertainment.
The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1991)
Continuing the trend of games that are based on a book of the exact same name, The Cardinal of the Kremlin is both a global management sim developed by Capstone Software for Amiga and a novel published in 1988.
The book featured the first appearance of CIA operative Jack Ryan as he worked to rescue an operative buried deep in Russia and prevent global destruction involving the Strategic Defence Initiative (a missile defence system reliant on satellites). He's certainly come a long way from there, now taking on forces in Venezuela and Russia in the television series.
In the game, your goal is to develop your laser satellite defence system before the Soviets do, to prevent them from blocking your missiles. The only problem? You cannot trust anyone — even the very scientists who are working on your lasers could be spies. You can either prioritise research and leave yourself open to infiltration, or prioritise secrecy and hinder your research.
So you continue on, battling in top-down action sequences while secretly infiltrating the Soviet bases with your own spies. It's a race to the finish and although the game was largely forgotten, it's an interesting look back at the Cold War-type games that were all the rage for a while.
Rainbow Six series (1998 - 2015)
Possibly one of the most successful game franchises to bear Tom Clancy's name, the Rainbow Six series has spanned almost 20 years and 17 games, since its first introduction back in 1998.
The games are squad-based first-person tactical shooters that put the player into a series of closed environments, and are loosely based on the novel of the same name.
At first release in 1998, the game was more of a tactical shooter where you'd prepare and strategise in advance for missions before being deployed to enact them.
Over the years, the game has transformed into more of a typical FPS, with a couple of exceptions and unusual circumstances — namely, one PC expansion that was exclusively released in South Korea alone (Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Take-Down – Missions in Korea).
Notably, the most recent addition to the series, Rainbow Six: Siege, has garnered mass appeal within esports and the streaming community, with countless players broadcasting themselves live on Twitch and Mixer.
Ghost Recon series (2001 - 2019)
If someone thinks of the Tom Clancy universe, chances are that these are the games they think of first — even though the Ghost Recon series doesn't actually derive inspiration from the author's catalogue of novels.
Instead, the squad-based first-and third-person tactical shooters were developed by Red Storm Entertainment for Ubisoft, and positions players to take hold of the Ghosts (a selection of US operatives ready to save the world from corrupt Russian officials).
The popularity of the base game resulted in the production of fourteen expansions, the bulk of which were received to great acclaim and popularity on their own merits.
The games have definitely changed over time. Advanced Warfighter became more of a cover shooter that changed depending on the platform you played on, and Breakpoint is now more of a third-person looter shooter.
Splinter Cell series (2002 - 2013)
Splinter Cell is one of those series that people mistakenly believe is inspired by Tom Clancy's books, but the reality is that it's more the other way around.
The series bears Tom Clancy's name across all the titles, but in truth, the series of books that were published following the games' releases were written by a number of other authors under the pseudonym David Michaels (following Tom Clancy's death in 2013).
There are seven titles in the third-person shooter stealth game series so far, following protagonist and NSA operative Sam Fisher. These have grown from
There were also a couple of films produced along the Splinter Cell line, but didn't quite reach widespread commercial appeal.
All in all, there are over 50 titles spanning the extensive Tom Clancy universe, so there's really no excuse not to partake even if you're not much of a bookworm.