Review by whisperingmute
"A Deeper Splinter Cell Game Than Ever Before"
Splinter Cell: Double Agent marks a turn in the series into a slightly new direction. Instead of working for the NSA(National Security Agency), you'll be working as a double agent to help save the world once again. By standards, this is a fairly by the books Splinter Cell game, but the trust system that is incorporated into gameplay and a deeper look into Sam's persona help flesh out a game from a tired and true stealth game.
After Sam Fisher's daughter dies, he spirals into a life of depression. Unable to cope with his daughter's death, he signs up for the most dangerous mission in his career; to infiltrate a terrorist group and take down a weapon of mass destruction. Lambert(his boss) hopes this mission shall straighten out his life and put him on the right track. In order to infiltrate the JBA(John Brown's Army) he must earn their trust. Sam Fisher has a trust meter, well two to be exact. Instead of perhaps one bar and a meter which will swing both ways as you complete objectives for the JBA and the NSA, there are two. One for the JBA and another for the NSA. When you complete objectives, the meter will fill up for the JBA or NSA depending on what kind of objective it was. This leaves out that edge of your seat "what should I do" moments that appear a lot in the Xbox version. Instead, you must complete all objectives before a mission is complete in order for you not to lose trust for one group or another. Fail to do so will result in them losing trust. Stray to far and mission failed. No trying to prove yourself in a middle of a mission. It also leaves a sense of not much consequence to your decisions either. In the Xbox version, depending on which side of the single trust bar, you had extra equipment for a mission. In this, it doesn't. The only things I felt where "what should I do" moments were the conflicting objectives where you had to choose which one to do. These were far in between and even still, I didn't feel much of a consequence to my decisions. It's a shame they couldn't use the Xbox trust meter version instead.
Perhaps the story overall isn't engaging in itself, but the events that happen during gameplay and things you do remind me very much of action/spy movies. There are a lot of times something unexpected happens while on a mission and you have to change things up and adds that realistic sense to the game. One mission in particular is in Congo in Africa. You are in a middle of a warzone in a rubbled and destoryed city. As you try to get past all the military fighting and your surroundings are being destroyed, all of a sudden a nearby wall explodes. These kind of moments makes the game exciting and real. Perhaps the story isn't that exciting but the execution and the style of the missions are and very well done.
The stealth in the gameplay has also changed. Instead of some kind of a status as to how much sound you are making and the surrounding sound or how much in the dark you are, you have a lil thingy that's attached to your shoulder that lights up in three colors. Green is when you are in the dark, yellow is when you are in the light and can be seen and red stands for that somebody has seen you and alerted. It's a nice touch honestly as it gives you more space to look around your environment and a more cinematic attention. I miss the sound meter though, you have to judge and even still, I don't think there was any stealth to sound besides trying to be quit. Though, hiding in the shadows happens very little in this game. Most of the missions take place in broad daylight and is up to you to hide behind cover, swim in water, and just plain good stealth to get by. Something the series hasn't really done before.
Your array of moves and equipment havn't really changed since earlier literations. You still have your rifle, a pistol which has a e.m.p shortage to take out lights, a noise maker to redirect your foes, sticky shockers to knock them out, air foils, grenades, smoke grenades, and a quite a few other things. You goggles are also with you with night-vision, emp vision, and heat-vision. A neat feature is that you'll be upgrading these tools as you complete missions to an improved night vision, faster hacking computers, and faster lock-picking doors to name a few. A nice touch. Sam Fisher still carries that classic knife of his where he can either immeaditely stab them in the back or slice their throat or he can grab them, interrogate them, and than procede to knock them out or kill them. There is a lot at your disposal and gives you that true sand-box feeling in which you can try different style of playing from shooting to pure stealth.
The jump from the Xbox to the Xbox 360 has been huge in terms of graphics. Double Agent appearently still caries that trademark of pushing the limits of the hardware and making characters, weapons, and the environments seem more engaging and real. Actual, I think this game has the best levels I've seen the series us thus far. With varied locals such as the arctic, Congo, New York City, and to Shanghai. The game clearly gets around(pun intended). On a side note, Splinter Cell has be known for it's "human' like A.I. which is very believable. If a guard gets suspicous, he call on a friend to help him search. Even if they don't find anything, he walk more slowly and cautious making it harder to sneak by.
Appearently, the Shanghai Team at Ubisoft(they made Splinter Cell: Pandorra Tomorrow) love the Bourne Conspiracy and the music really seems to show that. In particular, the first mission has a track that sounds oddly familiar to the Jason Bourne movies and some later missions also seem to share the same characteristic. It also, in my opinion, improved the music to a much better status than before. Beside the excellent sound and the lack of sound in stealth, everything sounds realistic from the guns to walking around on certain grounds and to what ever. Voice acting has also improved greatly to a more cinematic flair.
Splinter Cell: Double Agent carries a lot of cinematic touches and excellent graphics but it loses that added depth in the trust system and into other aspects of gameplay that was in the Xbox version(made by the original Splinter Cell team). The series has also brought very little new into it's gameplay and needs something much more drastic to help make it seem more fresh. The story was also hard to follow but the execution of events while playing was best none the less. Where the Xbox version failed this game shines but the Xbox version fills in where the 360 version falters.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 04/14/08
Game Release: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent (US, 10/17/06)
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