I admit, I’m a Splinter Cell fanboy. I played the first two games on the Gamecube, and read both of the novels. Ubisoft must know this, because Sam Fisher’s latest adventure came out on my birthday, October 19. I got to experience the ‘Next Gen Splinter Cell’, on day one! And am I impressed? Hell yes.
The thing I find interesting about the Splinter Cell franchise is that even though it seems to get a sequel every year, it doesn’t just add one feature and call it a day. It adds huge features for each new game. From the first game to Pandora Tomorrow they added (some excellent) multiplayer. From Pandora Tomorrow to Chaos Theory they expanded the multiplayer, and advanced combat updates. What’s new for Double Agent? A new Sam.
When Sam’s daughter Sarah is killed by a drunk driver, he loses focus on his missions. After some time off, (Sam’s v
oice in his head boss) Col. Irving Lambert offers Sam a position as an NOCagent in order for him to infiltrate a terrorist cell called John Brown’s Army (JBA). But to get in, you have to prove you are worthy to one of the members (who just happens to be in jail!). In order to get in jail, the NSA stages multiple bank robberies, and a fake body count. This plan ends up landing Sam in Ellsworth Prison, coincidentally in the same cell as JBA member, Jaime Washington. You gain his trust by helping him break out. Soon after starting a riot to distract the guards, and being handed a non-lethal shotgun, you find yourself on the roof. Sam and Jaime hijack a news helicopter that thought they were going to get the story of a lifetime.
After escaping prison, Jaime invites you to join the JBA. Sam accepts, and is wisked away to JBA headquarters in New York City. You have three missions that take place in JBA HQ, all of which end up being some of the most fun in the game. These missions break away from the typical Splinter Cell mission formula of ‘stay in the shadows, don’t be seen’ by having you be stealthy around all of the other terrorists. You have multiple objectives (some for the NSA, some for the JBA) in each mission. If you are caught (aka if you are seen)by a JBA member, while doing an NSA mission, they will become suspicious, and will lose trust of you. If your trust meter get’s too low then it’s game over.
At the end of the first JBA HQ mission, Emile (the boss) asks you to prove your loyalty to the JBA by killing the news helicopter pilot. By choosing to shoot or not shoot, that will affect the rest of the game. Similar quick decision moments are littered throughout the game, and add a whole new level to the franchise.
Another aspect that changes things up is that most of the missions take place in the bright sunshine of the day. Whether that be on a cruise ship (where you plant a bomb), or a well lit Hotel (where you steal notes), or a snowstorm (during a snowstorm). This feature makes you think about how you are going to hide, compared to just running to the dark.
The changes in Double Agent all seem to pay off. The achievement system is better than expected (along with completing missions, you also get it for taking down a certain amount of guards non-lethally, or disabling 20 lights with your gadgets). The graphics are some of the best out there for the 360, and other than the occasional stutter, or glitch, the game runs smoothly. The story has more depth, and varies more than past installments. Ubisoft, we like it! Give us another!