We look through the history of Tom Clancy's international counter-terrorist unit in anticipation of Rainbow Six Siege.

Make a note on your wish list for December 1, because that's when Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege gets released. 

For a limited time, you can pick up either Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege or Assassin’s Creed Syndicate for free when you buy an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 or 970 GPU , or 970M or above notebook. For more details on that killer deal, visit NVIDIA’s official Bullets or Blades page. 

As the title suggests, this time it's all about siege situations in which two teams of highly-trained combat specialists battle for control of small, confined areas, and where demolitions experts come into play, blasting through walls, door and floors to open up new paths and tactical options. There are 20 Operatives to choose from the world's most elite special forces units, and each has their own skills, perks and equipment, meaning that balancing out your team plays as much a role in the game as scoping out the playing field and planning your tactics before any shots have been fired. 

It's the eighth game in a series that's been going since 1998. Here's the story so far.

Rainbow Six (1998)

Originally named Black Ops, Rainbow Six came about when the developers discovered that Tom Clancy was working on a novel featuring a team of international operators fighting global terrorists, and a deal was made to base the game on Clancy's novel. Clancy shared his research with the developers and missions were rewritten to match much of the novel's plot. Set in 1999, it introduces the Rainbow team and sets them against an eco-terrorist organization in a series of missions that culminate in a plot to release the Ebola virus at the Olympic games.

Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear (1999)

Set against a backdrop of the Soviet Union's collapse, the second Rainbow Six game sees team Rainbow taking on the Russian mafia and international arms dealers who are plotting to manufacture nuclear weapons and sell them to terrorists. Things get out of hand when the bad guys take control of a nuclear power station and attempt to engineer a Chernobyl-style meltdown by shutting off the cooling system, leading to an epic final confrontation in which the Rainbow team storms the plant in order to try and recapture it before it blows.

Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield (2003)

The first Rainbow Six game developed by Ubisoft, Raven Shield kicks off at the end of the Second World War, with a pair of fascists escaping Croatia with a hoard of Holocaust loot, but swiftly moves on to 2005, where one of the fascists is alive (but not so well) and sponsoring terrorist attacks from his base in Argentina as part of a scheme to resurrect global fascism. With a stockpile of chemical weapons he plans to export contaminated beef worldwide and attack Rio de Janeiro with a blister gas bomb; once again it's down to Rainbow to save the day. 

Rainbow Six: Lockdown (2005)

This time around the Rainbow team goes up against a new terrorist organization, an affiliation of anti-West groups called the Global Liberation Front. They've stolen an artificial nanotech virus called Legion with similarities to Ebola, only it's airborne and has a 100 percent mortality rate, and Rainbow has to travel from country to country, shutting down GLF cells before finally tracking down the GLF's leader before the virus can be released.

Rainbow Six: Critical Hour (2006)

A lesser-known member of the Rainbow Six family, Critical Hour was only released on Xbox and was the gaming equivalent of a sitcom clip show. Instead of being based around a single over-arching mission, it instead focuses on the Rainbow leader John Clark as he prepares for retirement and reminisces about past glories. So this time around you play through seven missions that Clarke feels would be useful for training purposes. It also re-introduces the tactical and planning options that were missing from Lockdown. 

Rainbow Six: Vegas (2006)

After a couple of half-hearted efforts, Rainbow Six hit its stride again with Vegas. Starting in a Mexican border town with a Rainbow team sent to arrest a terrorist ringleader, the story swiftly moves on to a hostage rescue mission in Las Vegas, and then to a plot to destroy the Nevada Dam, along with the revelation that one member of the Rainbow team has turned traitor and is working with the terrorists. Although Rainbow manages to save the dam, the traitor gets away in a helicopter that subsequently crashes, but his body is nowhere to be found, which leads us to...

Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (2008)

Part sequel, part prequel, Vegas 2 starts off just before Raven Shield and a botched rescue mission in the French Pyrénées before jumping forward to 2010, where a pair of Mexican coyotes are smuggling chemical weapons into Las Vegas. It's all about an escalating terrorist siege, played out around fictional Las Vegas locations, and it makes for a compelling piece of anti-terrorist action, and of course the traitorous ex-Rainbow member appears and finally meets his come-uppance.

Rainbow Six Siege

And here we are! Rainbow Six Siege promises a return to the glory days of Rainbow Six, bolstered by explosive action and a focus on teamwork, tactics and tension. While you're waiting for the September 24 beta to come along you can work on your tactical skills by visiting the Rainbow Six Siege site and following the Art of Siege to play through five online training missions that'll teach you the skills you'll need to succeed.

Rainbow Six Siege launches just in time for the holiday season on December 1. Don’t miss out on your chance to score a free copy of the game on PC.