Tango Neutralized

Background: Rainbow Six is an XBox game with online capability. Equipped with special headsets, multiple players can interact and communicate with each other in real time through a high-speed Internet connection. The mission is simple: My buddies and I comprise an elite squad of anti-terrorist commandos that will rescue any hostages, defuse any bombs and neutralize all Tangos to secure the peace and restore law and order…

As we get older and move to the far corners of the world, it gets harder and harder to get together with my buds to enjoy the juvenile pursuits that are the foundation of every male friendship. Since Al Gore hasn’t invented a way to have rubber band fights over the Internet, I’ve come to depend on XBox Live as a means to maintaining these important bonds in male relationships. Thankfully, The Chizzler (DA) and Jon_Solo are always up for neutralizing Tangos at a moment’s notice…

The fact that Solo lives on the East coast actually helps our cause. You see, Solo is on a different biometric plane than the rest of us. He works irregular hours, sleeps during the day, and is most active at night. His mother refers to this lifestyle as a mild form of vampirism. Anyway, the three-hour time difference conversion somehow puts us on about the same space-time continuum. Honestly, if Solo lived in the same time zone as me, I’d probably never talk to him.

Once we all get online, we take a moment to select our weapons, exchange a few pleasantries and mentally prepare ourselves for battle. The mission starts out with a chopper dropping our team at the insertion point. Wasting no time, we set out immediately to neutralize all Tangos and complete our mission objectives…

McSex: “Behind us… Building on the left… Top window… I’ve got a dude showing up on thermal. Take him out.”
~A hail of gunfire ensues~
Solo: “Got him.”
Chizzler: “No, I got him.”
Solo: “Whatever… I nailed his ass.”

Now for the record, Solo always assumes he is behind every kill our team earns. Even if he walked up and riddled an enemy corpse with bullets, he’ll still turn to us and claim it was his kill. While some bickering may ensue about who actually registered the kill, it is usually short-lived since the game lacks forensic examiners to determine the actual cause of death during game play. We simply move on and wait for the kill totals to be revealed at the end of the game.

While successfully completing the mission is our paramount objective, it is also equally important to register a nice total of kills individually. Registering single-digit kills for an entire mission will cause other players to call you a pacifist or question if maybe you’d be better suited joining a troop of girl scouts. If you happen to register zero kills, your fellow players will ask if you fled to Canada at some point in the mission. And getting a negative score (the result of killing more teammates than terrorists) will result in an impromptu military tribunal for aiding and abetting the enemy in a time of war.

While we try to function as a team, our best efforts to operate as a cohesive unit can be compromised by interruptions and distractions outside of the game. For The Chizzler, there’s no better time to multitask than when he’s supposed to be providing cover fire or guarding our flank. It never fails. To the annoyance of his teammates, The Chizzler takes an endless amount of pauses to take phone calls, make a snack, answer the door, play on the Internet, clean his apartment or read a magazine while the rest of our squad engages the enemy.

Now, the occasional interruption is tolerable. We all have to go to the bathroom or listen to our wives/girlfriends tell us about their day. It happens. However, with the sheer volume of phone calls and visits The Chizzler receives on a typical night, one could easily justify hiring a receptionist to handle the demands on his time.

Solo: “Where’s Dave?”
McSex: “I think he got a phone call.”
Solo: “Again!?”
McSex: “I know. He’s jeopardizing the mission. He always does this.”
Solo: “Who could he even be talking to? We’re his only friends.”
McSex: “Exactly… You know, I hate answering the phone. You have to get up, stop what you’re doing, run over to the phone…”
Solo: “It’s like, ‘Who wants to get a phone call, ever?'”
McSex: “Not me. But Dave does apparently. He’s all over it every-”
Solo: “Watch out, McSex… There’s a dude on the rooftops up here with a rocket launcher.”
McSex: “I see him. Got him. Anyway, have you noticed that Dave gets a lot of visits, too?”
Solo: “Yeah, what is with that?”
McSex: “Nobody ever knocks on my door.”
Solo: “Try living in Brooklyn. People are pretty chill here, but you don’t visit people. That never happens… Must be Bellingham.”

Individually, Solo and The Chizzler are efficient killing machines. However, when put together, they somehow manage to regress to a bunch of giggling schoolgirls on the battlefield. It’s uncanny. One night, Solo and I breezed through three straight missions flawlessly. As soon as The Chizzler joined us, our squad was reduced to a friendly-firing slapstick suicide-mission. Frankly, Larry, Moe and Curly could have put together a more professional and organized effort than we did.

Allow me to elaborate on some of the breakdowns that befall our team whenever Jon_Solo and The Chizzler work side by side:

1. Lack of Awareness: The word “itchy” trigger finger doesn’t do it justice. Picture a trigger finger enflamed with psoriasis and poison oak. This affliction affects Solo primarily. Essentially, movement of any kind within his field of vision will be met with several rounds of gunfire, followed by vigorous reloading, and then several more rounds for good measure.

The funny thing is, Solo never feels responsible for comrades that he decimates with friendly fire. At the end of the game, Solo always places the blame squarely on the foolish teammate that happened to venture near him as he was indiscriminately firing his weapon.

2. Disorientation: It’s not uncommon for me to advance deep into enemy territory, look over my shoulder and find that the rest of my squad is nowhere to be found. Ducking intense enemy fire, I’ll bring up the map screen, only to find that Chizz and Solo are inexplicably heading back to the insertion point or maybe a frozen yogurt stand somewhere else on the map.

Now, I can forgive getting turned around and mistakenly heading in the wrong direction. It happens under the stress of battle. However, sometimes I’ll check the map and they won’t be moving at all. What are they doing? Digging foxholes? Making snow angels? For all I know, they are playing hackey sack while I’m trying to single-handedly wipe out an army of terrorists. Unfailingly, by the time I can give the order for them to regroup, my life is wasted along with any hope of successfully completing the mission.

3. Poor Execution: This occurs when we have a solid plan in place, and for some inexplicable reason fail to adhere to it. These are catastrophic mental errors like shooting a hostage after we’ve rescued her. Throwing grenades at a bomb we’re supposed to defuse. I’ve actually had The Chizzler drop a live grenade in my lap instead of throwing it at the enemy. Stuff like that.

Here’s a textbook example:

The missions usually end with a climactic standoff with terrorists while a hostage’s life hangs in the balance. Naturally, these daring rescues require precise planning and execution. The element of surprise is critical. As we approach a room where a hostage is being held, I’ll take a moment to try and get our team organized… (Admittedly, depending on your point of view, this strategic planning session borders on sucking the fun out of playing a video game online altogether)…

McSex: “Alright. They’ve got a hostage in the next room. There are at least three Tangos in there as well. I’ll use a breaching charge and enter through the back door. Solo and Chizz, you two enter through the front door on the count of three. Remember to check your fire, and don’t shoot the hostage. Lock and load. On three…”

Of course, Dave pays no attention to any of this. Here’s what typically happens: Midway through my strategy briefing, Dave will casually open the front door, alerting the terrorists to our presence. In a matter of seconds, we hear some rapid gunfire and witness the hostage being executed and our team slaughtered. The words: “Mission Failed” flash prominently across our screen.

Solo and I are dumbfounded. Utterly speechless… (Well, momentarily, anyway.)

Solo: “Oh my god! What was that?”
Chizzler: “I don’t know… I thought we were supposed to go in there?”
McSex and Solo (in unison): “On three!! We were going in on three!”
Chizzler: “Oh.”
McSex: “Wow. That was horrible execution. You might be facing a court martial for that one…”
Solo: “Look right there! I got 19 kills. I told you guys I was on point!”
McSex: “Sweet. 31 kills. That’ll help my average.”
Chizzler: “What? Only 8 kills? I should have had way more than that!”
Solo: “If you’d get off the phone for one second…”
McSex: “Ok, fire it up again. But this time-”
Chizzler (sarcastically): “I know, I know. I’ll get my act together. No hackey sack or having fun. All business!”

7 thoughts on “Tango Neutralized”

  1. Does anybody know where I can become captain of the xbox? Cause McSex somehow managed this title. His voice is even on the breifing missions, recorded directly to the disc. The only thing he missed in the article was the imminent trash talking of one another immediately after they die, no matter who it is, most of the time we love it when McSex actually dies. Nobody know’s why McSex is so good, he doesn’t even work at the post office. And the only thing scarier than McSex coming to work with an M-16, is him writing a long piece on his neutralizing capabilites.

  2. This game is very similar to team sheetrocking. One guy is always out of ammunition [ screws, nails, rock, lumber ] one guy is on the phone [ there is only one phone ] and one guy guy gets to claim all the ” kills ” [ the kills in sheetrocking walls or ceilings that are completed]
    you can get more satisfaction in the sheetrocking game. A “kill” in sheetrocking gives you something that is not only satisfying but you can actually use it. Its value will increase over time.. will those bandaid purple hearts that you wear after after playing your game mean anything next week?
    Matt that was a good article.
    dad

  3. I like your Dad’s comment! When I first read that this was going to be about a video game, I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it, but I was laughing out loud, as usual. Thank you, dear boys (alias 3 Stooges), for keeping the world safe from terrorists. Mom

  4. When I fire up my Christbox (I don’t want to water down the religious significance of the machine by using the commericialized Xbox moniker) and load up Rainbow Six, a few things are guaranteed to happen.

    First off, I call McSex and Solo knowing that both of them will drop anything at a moments notice to join me online. Often, in the background noise of the telephone call I will hear dishes shattering, toilets flushing, or, in these days of cell-phones, brakes screeching and rubber peeling. I swear on my Christbox that Solo must have a siren that he puts on the top of his vehicle the second I hang up from him because he is usually at his apartment in two minutes or less. If you’ve ever been to New York, you know what this means. A lot of good, hard-working pedestrians give their lives so that we can go online. Tonight, let us all display our flags at half-mast for them.

    Second, it is a foregone conclusion that the outcome of the game will not reflect on our individual skill levels or abilities. Why you ask? It’s simple human psychology. McSex will immediately puff himself up and give some sort of high school locker room pep talk as if he has been chosen as our team leader. Solo and I will usually groan and proceed with the mission, placating MR in his fantasy, but secretly taking an oath of insubordination. Sometimes that oath means a grenade in the lap, sometimes it’s more subtle. What can I say, war is crazy and it does crazy things to people. The worst kind of authority is that which is taken and not granted.

    Third, it is inevitable that when the night is finished, there will always be “one more.” Every singe time we all play and someone starts the whimpers about having to go to bed, call it quits or otherwise wrap up the night, a simple statement shuts them up. And I’m proud to say it’s usually me who utters the phrase. I just look within myself, adjust my headset, and say those three magic words.

    Alright, one more.

    Then boom, it’s on again.

  5. Matt, let your dad out of the basement periodically.
    Secondly, it’s no wonder Scab and Slayer are always killing McSex with his Fidel Castro-like rule of the game. I’d off your ass too.
    And could we step down from the holy pedistal when it comes to the Xbox.
    Not all of us are genetically modified arachnids with eight arms flailing in five different directions trying to manage the overwhelming difficulty of the Xbox controler.

  6. first off let me say that Booth is really playing with fire taking the christbox’s name in vain. The gaming lords shall strike thee down. Now while I understand the hard drug like lure of endless videogame victories with friends, let me say that you guys are on a whole other level. It makes me so jealous. MR it looks like with this post you have officially earned your spot in the LAMBDA LAMBDA LAMBDA house.

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