Review by GunManiac468
A worthy addition to the Splinter Cell franchise.
Back in 2006, Splinter Cell: Double Agent was released as a followup of Clancy's last knockout in the series, a game called Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. It garnered generally positive feedback from the gaming community, and received some criticism from the previous fans of the series for its simplified gameplay. Now as I finally get around to playing through completely, I offer my own two cents on the quality of the game.
I'll start off with something simple: graphics. Splinter Cell: Double Agent offers you the kind of graphics you'd expect from an Xbox 360. Character models are well detailed with exceptional textures forming the environments you'll be sneaking through in your campaign to stop John Brown's Army. A fan of the previous game, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, might notice that several of the character models and animations are recycled for use in Double Agent. They're just highly polished and revamped. This is most noticeable when you're aiming your weapons, as the camera falls back into the exact same position it would have in the old game. This offers some nostalgia, without feeling bland and overplayed. As with most Splinter Cell games, the lighting is good, since it makes up a large part of the gameplay.
Moving on, I'll begin to explain the audio aspect of the game. The sounds in Double Agent are, again, just what you would expect. Effects like gunshots, punches, and other various noises in the world are well done and help to add to the game's attempt at realism. The voices of the several characters are read well by the hired actors, especially considering the return, yet again, of Michael Ironside as Sam Fisher. The music is set to fit the tone of your situation. Slow and steady when your sneaking through the various levels, until you get into trouble with the guards and it speeds up the tempo to suit the hectic atmosphere. Certain bass noises and violin notes play when making risky moves like attacking guards or sneaking in a heavily populated area, helping to up the suspense considerably.
As with many of the Splinter Cell games, Double Agent offers a decent storyline if you're smart enough to follow it. That's not to say you need to be Einstein to keep up with the plot, but several people tend to attack the good folks at Ubisoft for using boring stories in their games. I found the story in Double Agent to be pleasing and the characters to be believable. To help illustrate my point, I'll give you a quick summary without spoiling the plot.
Shortly after the events of Chaos Theory, Sam Fisher is sent to Iceland to stop Pakistani terrorists from launching a nuclear missile. After completing his objectives, he is informed by his handler and friend, Irving Lambert, that daughter Sarah Fisher has been killed by a drunk driver. Driven into depression and loneliness, Fisher reluctantly accepts the most dangerous mission of his career: infiltrating a ruthless group of domestic terrorists from within, in order to stop millions of lives from being lost.
It's no Jack Ryan novel, as you can see, but it gets the job done while still being acceptable. Throughout your time playing the story, you'll learn more about the vicious terrorists you call your friends, eventually being forced to make tough decisions that could end the lives of some major characters.
Double Agent is a stealth game. It is not Metal Gear Solid. You will not be able to randomly scour levels killing every guard you come across. Often being detected in places you shouldn't be will result in a losing battle against the guards, in which the odds are almost never in your favor. You will constantly be outnumbered and outgunned. If you want to succeed at the game, you must be discreet. That's one of the things that makes Splinter Cell such a unique series. Don't worry, it's never impossible to stay hidden, you just need to think. At your disposal will be a number of weapons, gadgets, and tools. Among them are Sam's trademark multivision goggles. These allow three different vision modes. Night, thermal, and electromagnetic vision. Each mode has its own advantages and uses depending on the circumstances.
Unarmed, Sam is still a dangerous opponent. As in Chaos Theory, Sam is always armed with a knife for close quarters battle. For non-lethal takedowns, Sam has his fists. You will always have a choice between killing and knocking your enemies unconscious. Most of the time, whichever choice you make will effect your mission. For instance, killing detracts from your stealth rating, as does other "non-stealthy" actions like breaking locks and raising alarms. Staying hidden and out of sight often rewards you with more of Sam's specialized gadgets for use in the single player story, which has three different difficulties.
Finally, the newest feature in Double Agent, and also the most unique, is the trust levels. Throughout the story you must maintain a good relationship with both the NSA and JBA, your two newest employers. The actions you carry out, the objectives you complete, and the choices you make will all effect your trust. For instance, you may be forced on some occasions to choose between killing an innocent civilian to maintain your cover, and sparing him to stay on good terms with the government. It's these decisions that make playing Double Agent so fun and suspenseful.
One of the few flaws with Double Agent is that once you beat it, there's not much else to do but replay the storyline missions. I can't adequately comment on the multiplayer, since I've never played it, but I there's always that to play. Plus, like I said before, there's three difficulty levels, all challenging in their own regard.
If your a fan of the Tom Clancy games or the stealth/action genre, I highly recommend you buy this game. Nowadays its cheap and easy to find, and its well worth the twelve to fifteen dollars needed to buy it used. Well done Ubisoft, once again.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent (US, 10/17/06)
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