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September 2006




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Splinter Cell: Double Agent


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Note: Screenshots for this preview are of the Xbox 360 version of the game.


The ultimate covert operative is ready for his comeback - Sam Fisher, the grizzled NSA agent of the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell series, is set to return to the world of espionage. But this time he's playing on both sides of the conflict.

In the newest Splinter Cell title, Fisher is a double agent (hence, the game's title) sliding from his familiar NSA status to the side of the terrorists he's always been fighting. What makes that dual role exciting for gamers is that based on what decisions you make during the game, the outcome of Splinter Cell: Double Agent could be very different, with branching storylines. In short, each of your actions has a consequence to your good standing with each side of the terror war.

That should be good news for gamers, who will receive a much more involved and tense gaming adventure. Do you kill the terrorists to advance the NSA's agenda? Or do you sabotage the NSA for the good of the terrorist cause, if it helps in them trusting you more? Your ultimate goal will once again be to save the world from a vicious terrorist organization, but at what price, Sam Fisher? It's all up to you, the gamer.




Of course, at Fisher's disposal is a bevy of futuristic warfare and prototype weaponry that Tom Clancy has infused into Splinter Cell's game world. Again, based on what choices you make in the game determine how much weaponry is laid at you disposal. And naturally, as this is a Tom Clancy game, who's the master of realistic warfare writing, the gameplay will allow


for the use of actual tactics of undercover agents. Stealth, the signature of the Splinter Cell franchise, plays a big role in Splinter Cell: Double Agent. But be careful not to blow your cover on either side of the conflict, otherwise the gameplay could potentially take an unexpected turn of events.

Environmentally, Splinter Cell: Double Agent takes players on a world-tripping journey, from Cozumel, to Shanghai, back to the good old U.S. of A., where New York and Los Angeles face the threat of total destruction. Graphically, Splinter Cell: Double Agent is improved over its predecessors, based on the E3 2006 demonstration (running on an Xbox 360) I saw in May. You'll undergo underwater missions with dangerous ice floes and trudge through blinding sandstorms in the blistering desert. What was shown at E3 involved a mission in a desert region, and visually, the game was impressive, as has generally been the case with each previous Splinter Cell title. One big concern I noticed was the lack of A.I. intelligence.


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Oh, the standard reactionary A.I., which figures out Fisher's placement if you or they get close enough to each other, once again returns. But as in other Splinter Cell titles, the A.I. has a short memory. At E3, a gamer caught the attention of enemies, who were shooting at Fisher. But once he hid out in the very same tent that the guards shooting at him were patrolling around, they seemed to lose interest, even though if this were a real-world scenario they would have found their way into the tent to relentlessly pursue the suddenly-not-so-covert Fisher. They simply went back to their patrol, as if they never had seen a glimpse of Fisher.

Another critically acclaimed fact of the Splinter Cell franchise, multiplayer, is here too, in an enhanced and innovatively improved manner, with recruiting, sabotage, and spying playing a role in even the multiplayer gameplay.

While Splinter Cell: Double Agent will undoubtedly be another commercial success, I hope that the development team can work out the Alzheimer's A.I. to bring a much tougher challenge level to the game. Despite that one worry, I still am confident that Sam Fisher's newest game, with Tom Clancy's usual superb influence of military knowledge, will be another excellent example of how to make a stellar stealth game.

-Lee Cieniawa

(July 24, 2006)


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