Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent Review
Seeing double with Ubisoft's latest stealth action game.
Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 29th November 2006
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent
- Developer: Ubisoft
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Release Date: 9th November 2006
I remember playing on Splinter Cell on the Playstation 2 years ago and how refreshing it felt to be able to sneak around, hide and get through levels without killing anyone, games like that were so rare back then! Of course, you needed a lot of patience, it’s not everyone’s cup of earl grey to sit there staring at the screen, not moving a muscle for ages just in case you’re seen by the ‘bad guys’ but for some, the waiting and stealth elements of game play were what made this game different and the fact that it was all done so well was just a bonus. So when I heard that Sam Fisher and his merry men had returned to the gaming world in “Splinter Cell: Double Agent I just had to play it.
The very title of this game contains a clue to the storyline as this time all is not as it appears to be. It’s no longer a cut and dry case of Sam taking on the bad guys and saving the world, this time it seems that Sam really can’t decide whose side he’s on anymore, in fact, you have to decide that for him.
The core of the story involves Sam Fisher posing as a member of the JBA (a rather sadistic terrorist organisation) in order to gather intelligence for the ever faithful NSA. The problem arises when you have to earn trust from both parties in order to continue with your mission. Say for instance, the JBA order you to kill Mr. Bloggs, but the NSA warn you against such an act, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Ultimately, only you can decide where your loyalties lie.
As soon as the game allowed me to take control of Sam Fisher, I was immediately reminded of the whole Splinter Cell world as to be honest, not that much has changed. Your weapons are limited to a silenced pistol, a sniper rifle and a few grenades as you are required to rely on stealth rather than gun power in order to progress through your missions. The game is much more generous with its gadgets however and arms you with everything from the old lock pick, computer hacker, safe cracker and amongst other bits and pieces (most of which you never need to use) a variety of goggles such as heat seeking and night vision, all designed to “see you” through numerous conditions, again though, I found I never really needed to use them but I suppose they’re a nice touch if you like to take it all very seriously.
In order to keep track of your general position with both organisations, two bars at the bottom of the screen inform you of the current trust levels coming from either side. To increase trust you must complete the objectives spelt out to you but unlike other Splinter Cell games, it’s no longer a case of just keeping “head office” happy. This time, you are given objectives from two separate sources and although in most cases you can complete missions for both sides without jeopardising trust, sometimes the objectives clash and you must choose a side, and sacrifice the other organisation’s trust. An example of this was when I had two objectives to complete at the same time. One was to stop the bomb from exploding and another was to allow the bomb to explode, it really was a no win situation so in the end I sided with the organisation that had the least trust in me.
As with the other Splinter Cell games you can’t really get away with blasting through a level with a gun. Most missions have an objective telling you not to trigger any alarms so to run through guns a’ blazing would be a bit pointless. Instead you must stick to the shadows, break lights (or use light switches!) and creep around without being seen. You can attack enemies of course but it tends to be a little less gory experience than in most games, the best way to do it is the sneak up behind them, grab them and after pressing them for information, choose to either kill them (a sharp kick to the spine in most cases) or simply knock them out (it’s always preferable to keep the body count down!).
There are also a number of special attacks which arise in different circumstances. For instance, whilst swimming under ice, you can break through suddenly and drag an enemy under the water pretty silently. When climbing a ledge you can grab a man walking past above you and throw him off the building, or if you happen to be walking above him, you can drop down on him knocking him out quietly and without fuss.
Whilst the mission environments tend to be pretty varied, the missions start feeling a little repetitive after a while, maybe this is largely due to the fact that every mission involves creeping around and sneaking up on people and whilst that still holds its original charm, you really do need patience in order to get through it. On a couple of occasions I was that sick of having to sneak through the same part over and over again only to be seen by an enemy at the other end that I gave up and just went through killing everyone with the pistol. I failed a lot of my objections but I at least got through the level before I turned grey. On the other hand, there are a number of variations the game throws at you such as bugging meeting rooms, stealing finger prints in order to hack through finger print control locks and recording voices.
Graphically the game is great, taking you to a variety of world locations from the towering, dazzling buildings of Shanghai to the blistering wilderness of Russia and all environments are done well with a good amount of detail and realism. My only gripe was that a lot of enemies looked the same but that seems to be a problem in most games and I don’t suppose it’s all that important. Sam Fisher looks his usual, miserable self although a little rougher around the edges, I noticed since the last time we met!
The game’s audio is pretty good with enemy’s accents being appropriate to the country you’re in and sound effects being pretty realistic. Sam still talks with the same “I am not impressed” drone but it fits his character well.
All in all, Splinter Cell: Double Agent is another great game in the franchise and whilst it doesn’t really bring anything new with it apart from a twist in the storyline, it is still an enjoyable game to play.
Review Score: 7.8/10
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