[Read on for a description of every Splinter Cell game ever released in the US, and my completion of them all in 2013.]
2013 is going to be an exciting year. Now that I know you guys enjoy reading my Quests
, I'm going to make an effort to do even more of them from here on out.
I hope that you guys have learned a bit about the franchises I've covered so far, as my plan is to inspire others to share their thoughts and feelings with the series of their choice as well (which many of you have done!).
In addition to Metroid
, Mega Man Classic
, The Elder Scrolls
, Mega Man X
, and the Mega Man Spinoffs, I also have another one ready to go for 2013: Splinter Cell.
Why Splinter Cell?
I was always intrigued by the Splinter cell series. Michael Ironside's incredible performance over the span of the entire franchise helped, but for the most part, it's the top notch gameplay and cutting edge aesthetics that put me over the edge.
My love of stealth games is incredibly obvious, having played every Tenchu and Metal Gear game ever (among many more), and Splinter Cell can easily be lumped into that group of quality stealth titles. Plus, with Blacklist coming out this year, now is as good a time as ever to take on Sam Fisher.
If you haven't joined me on my Quests before, the way they work is pretty simple. It's kind of like a retrospective, but rather than just give you an overview of a franchise, I'll generally let you know what I thought of the game when it was released, and what I think of it now.
If I didn't provide a complete vision of what the game is like before I replay it, I'll provide an "extended thoughts" section below each applicable entry. I'll update my progress in real time through my blog, and after I finish the entire Quest, I'll share it with you guys on the front page.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell - PlayStation 2 [Owned], PlayStation 3 (Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Classic Trilogy HD), PC, Xbox, GameCube, Game Boy Advance [Owned], Mac OSX, N-Gage
The original Splinter Cell was a pretty unassuming release. I was a big fan of Tom Clancy properties beforehand (Rainbow Six), so the "TC" name kind of piqued my interest a bit, admittedly, whereas I probably would have given the initial release a pass. But after diving in, I was hooked.
Like the Thief series, Splinter Cell brought "light and dark" elements to the forefront. With the insanely detailed lighting physics compliments of the Unreal Engine 2, it made gameplay that much more immersive, and there's nothing more badass than a stealth-fiend who lives in the shadows.
Protagonist Sam Fisher's signature tri-eyed goggles were also incredibly cool, and helped catapult the game ahead as more than just a "generic spy thriller" aesthetic.
Like the early Resident Evil series, combat is not encouraged, and the lack of firearm utilization is the key to success. Non-lethal weapons such as ring airfoils and shockers were a large part of Sam's arsenal, which helped mix up gameplay a bit.
I've also never beaten the Game Boy Advance version of the game before, which I'll be playing here in addition to the original game.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow - PlayStation 2 [Owned], PlayStation 3 (Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Classic Trilogy HD), PC, Xbox, GameCube, Game Boy Advance [Owned]
I was hooked in already after the first game, so naturally, I was there for Pandora Tomorrow day one. This time around the game was developed by Ubisoft Shanghai, as Ubisoft Montreal was already working on the third game (which shows how successful the first game was).
Although gameplay wasn't really changed that much this time around outside of the adaptive AI (Sam can shoot upside down, and other small mechanics), it was still a great entry in the series, and one of the best reviewed stealth games of all time. An additional multiplayer mode would also be incorporated, but it wouldn't be fully realized until Chaos Theory.
As is the case with the first game, I will also be playing the 2D Game Boy Advance version of Pandora Tomorrow, which I've never beaten before in addition to the original.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory - PlayStation 2 [Owned], PlayStation 3 (Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Classic Trilogy HD), PC, Xbox, GameCube, DS, 3DS [Owned]
The Splinter Cell series would once again get a bump in lightning and get some graphical upgrades that would make the experience much more aesthetically pleasing, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Sam would now have to monitor not only the lighting of his surroundings, but his noise level as well. This would be extra imperative, because the AI was improved, but Sam had a few extra tricks up his sleeve to deal with them (such as a new combat knife, and enhanced weaponry options). The Optically Channeled Potentiator (OCP) was especially useful, as it allowed you to disable cameras and other electronics simply by pointing at them.
Also, that multiplayer mode I casually mentioned in Pandora Tomorrow? In Chaos Theory, it's fully fleshed out, and it's incredible. On top of the already solid seven mission long coop mode (featuring Agent One and Two), there's the vastly improved upon Spies vs. Mercenaries mode, which pits Shadownet against ARGUS, both of which feature two vastly different playstyles.
I found myself and my group of friends favoring one group over the other, which would lead to a MAG-like favoritism of factions. Spies are more mobile, but must kill their prey through stealth. Mercs are more headstrong and aren't as limber, but they can kill Spies with reckless abandon, at both close and long range.
Multiplayer wise, Spies vs. Mercs was one of the most fun things I've ever experienced in all of gaming, and Chaos Theory is probably the series highlight for me.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Essentials - PSP [Owned]
I don't remember a whole lot about Essentials -- probably because it was a "here today gone tomorrow" PSP game that felt a bit broken at the time.
Given how great the first three games were, this is kind of a disappointment to see a "flashback" game given this little care by Ubisoft's development staff. In fact, it probably explains why there hasn't been a core portable Splinter Cell game in six years (Double Agent was ported to mobile platforms, and Conviction was ported to iOS and Android).
Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing what this can bring to the table: good or bad.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent - PlayStation 2 [Owned], PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox 360 [Owned], GameCube, Wii
Double Agent was a vast departure for the Splinter Cell series, for better or worse. The "seventh generation" versions of the game featured a wholly new engine that didn't feel like the first three games, and the gritty "double agent" storyline was a vast departure from the shadowy feel of the series.
To go along with the nature of the title, Sam could opt to side with the NSA or the JBA, depending on how you want the game to progress. Choosing one side over the other would change your weapon loadout, and your ending.
This is also one of the most confusing releases of all time. Strangely enough, the 360/PS3/PC versions are different than the Xbox/PS2/Wii versions -- Splinter Cell Conviction confirms that the 360/PS3/PC versions are canon. The development between these games was split between Ubisoft Shanghai and Montreal, just like the first two games.
I wasn't a big fan of Double Agent when it was released, so lets see if a fresh playthrough changes my mind.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction - Xbox 360 [Owned], PC, Mac OSX, iOS
After becoming a bit jaded by Double Agent, I was cautious of Conviction -- thankfully, my caution was unfounded, and I ended up loving the game. Although a fair amount of people weren't happy with the more action-oriented gameplay, I found the changes welcome, and a great way to introduce people to the Splinter Cell series.
The "Mark & Execute" mechanic, which allowed players to tag enemies or objects and pew pew them in rapid succession may have made the game a bit easier, but it was a ton of fun to actually utilize.
The "Last Known Position" mechanic creates a ghost of Sam, and shows players where the AI thinks they were located last. Again, this makes the game easier, but the mechanic itself is very well done, and very cool to watch in action. Visually, Conviction is also very impressive to look at, and is a more significant upgrade than Double Agent was (given that DA was essentially an upscaled Xbox/PS2 game for the 360 and PS3).
Multiplayer was also incredibly rewarding, as it focused almost entirely on coop -- even if the Spies vs. Mercenaries mode was nowhere to be found.
In an odd turn of events, Conviction is not available on the PS3 in any form, despite the fact that every other game in the entire franchise (including 2013's Blacklist) is available on a Sony platform.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist - Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
I honestly have no idea what to expect from Blacklist, especially given the fact that Ironside is not returning to voice Sam (the reason given is because Ironside is unable to perform motion capture stunts), and the addition of possibly meaningless Kinect integration.
Still, I'm eager to see how the franchise can evolve, and the "Spy Vs. Mercs" mode will return, which could shake the multiplayer scene up in a big way if it succeeds.