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Revisiting ‘Splinter Cell’ Part 1: Stealth Action Redefined

To kick off my personal mission in 2019 to rekindle my love for video games I decided that I was going to play through one of my favourite game series – Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell. It seemed fate was on my side as I spotted the Splinter Cell bundle for an absolute steal during the Steam Winter Sale – before buying the bundle I only owned Blacklist. The last time I remember playing this game was back when it was originally released in 2002 and fighting with my brother over who would get to play it first. This time, thankfully, that wasn’t an issue. The game won Best Action/Adventure at E3 in 2002, as well as being award IGN’s Xbox Game of the Year and Xbox Best Graphics awards winner.

The first entry to the series is our introduction to Sam Fisher, a covert ops veteran who is called in by the National Security Agency (NSA) to lead their new Splinter Cell Program. Splinter Cells are lone intelligence-gathering operatives who are thrown deep into enemy territory so stealth is the name of the game.

You are Sam Fisher. You must leave no trace on the physical or political map. Remember: Although killing may compromise secrecy, the choice between leaving a witness or a corpse is no choice at all. You do not exist. You are a Splinter Cell.”

Players must use the darkness to their advantage to sneak past hostiles and complete mission objectives without being spotted. The game was heavily praised upon its initial release for its use of darkness and light. Even now, the game’s stealth aspect is both fun and challenging – challenging Fisher to do the splits is also as addictive as the photo mode in Spider-Man. I’ve put several really enjoyable hours into this over the past few days and I highly recommend Sam Fisher fans to give this first installation a whirl again. You’ll fall in love with it all over again as soon as you begin your training.

Usually, when it comes to stealth games I always start with the best of intentions and try be stealthy, but after a while it just becomes more fun to find the least-stealthiest approach – for example when I play Hitman I could be playing Call of Duty for anyone would know as I run around just shooting everyone. But in Splinter Cell stealth is really your only option to approach and I love the game all the more for it. Despite your pistol being equipped with a silencer, 9 times out of 10 firing it will alert any nearby hostiles, so despite it being one of just a few items in your inventory, you’ll likely only ever use it against those damn lightbulbs, who (SPOILER ALERT) are the real enemy in the game.

The missions you’re asked to undertake are a fairly decent length, and there’s about 10 in total so those of you who revisit this won’t need to invest too much time in it. Some missions require a little trial and error, so the ‘Save Game’ option will become your new best friend. Even the earlier missions require some thought on their approach, but once you play the game a little bit and start thinking like Sam Fisher, the challenges become growingly more enjoyable and by the end, you’ll want to jump right into the next game.

Anyone else get a little tingly when you hear the noise of the night vision goggles activating? Just me?

 


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