Splinter Cell Double Agent marked the first big shake up in a franchise that started four years and four games previously.
The first three Splinter Cell games saw minor tweaks and refinements to the formula, while remaining recognizably part of the same franchise.
Even though modern day counter-espionage might sound a little bland and generic, the games clearly had their own identity.
Sam Fisher’s distinctive gait as he crept up on enemies, the way he shoots out lights to create darkness to hide in, and the famous three green lights on his head meant there was no mistaking Splinter Cell with any other series, including Metal Gear Solid, the dominant console stealth experience of the era.
However, with a new generation of consoles on the way, Ubisoft decided to make some serious changes to the formula.
Not for the last time in the series, either.
As is often the case when a popular series makes significant changes, there is blowback from fans who wanted more of what they already loved and that was definitely the case here, especially with Double Agent following on from Chaos Theory, generally regarded as the best game in the series.
It’s not especially controversial to state that the changes Ubisoft made with Double Agent were not successful.
I didn’t particularly like Double Agent at launch and I don’t like it much now, nearly 14 years later.
While reviews at the time were solid enough, it certainly wasn’t as well received as its predecessor and it's rarely talked about.
I don’t think that’s because of the changes though.
Ubisoft had good ideas, it’s just the execution wasn’t there, and the main problem with Double Agent is the same as it was in Pandora Tomorrow, namely a lack of interesting level design.
A common theme for sequels in the noughties was to go darker, with darker being seen as more mature and making for what marketing executives thought was excellent promotional material.
You only have to look to another Ubisoft franchise to see this with the brilliant Prince of Persia: Sands of Time followed up by the not bad as such but clearly too dark Warrior Within.
The Splinter Cell games were always a touch dark thematically, as well as literally, with a focus on war and terrorism, but Fisher had a dry sense of humor and the constant conversations with Grimsdottir and Lambert during missions made him feel like part of a family.
Double Agent doesn’t mess around with jokes or friendship.
Things are serious now; we can’t have the protagonist cracking grim jokes.
It reminds me a lot of the television series 24, which blew its load early on with attempted presidential assassinations and nuclear explosions, and had to push Jack Bauer closer and closer to breaking point in an attempt to up the stakes for each new season.
In Splinter Cell, we’ve already stopped terrorists from setting off bombs in airports and probably prevented world wars three to five.
Where do you go from there? Apparently, you kill off Fisher’s daughter and send him undercover to work with a terrorist organization, testing the limits of what he’s prepared to do to maintain his cover, again, very much like 24.
Or at least, that’s one of the stories in Double Agent, because unlike other games in the series, Double Agent has two partially conflicting stories depending on which version you play, which means we need to take a quick look at how this project came together.
More than usual, it’s important for me to specify what platform I’m basing my critique on, because that contributes significantly to the experience.
I’m playing the PC version, and for one thing, this port is an absolute mess, but I’ll focus on that near the end of the video.
More significantly, it means I played what’s considered version 1 of Double Agent and not Version 2, however, I did play version 2 around 14 years ago.
Double Agent released on Xbox 360 and PC at the end of 2006, after a six month delay from the planned release date of March 2006, and in early 2007 on the Playstation 3, and was therefore a fairly early game for this console generation.
Double Agent was also published on Playstation 2, Gamecube, and the original Xbox.
Most of the console audience, including myself, were still on the PS2 generation of consoles in 2006 and would be for some time, given the high price of the Playstation 3 at release.
Publishers wanted to maximize the audience and often saw value in creating lots of different versions, as you could see in my video on the Star Wars Force Unleashed games.
Usually, it’s clear which version of the game is considered the main version.
When talking about the Force Unleashed, there was little doubt that, unless expressly stated otherwise, I was talking about the version released on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, and not the PSP or Wii ports.
That is not the case with Double Agent, where people may have drastically different opinions and memories of the game based on their platform of choice at the time of release, and they may not realize how different the two versions are.
Despite the confusion inherent with Double Agent, there is a premier version, and that is the one released for the new consoles and PC.
This has been named by fans as Version 1, while the PS2, Gamecube, and Xbox releases are Version 2.
While the stories in both are similar, the ending to Version 1 ties in directly to the next game in the series, Conviction, whereas Version 2 contradicts it.
Version 2 wasn’t simply a trimmed down port of Version 1; the story and levels are different and yet they are similar enough that it wouldn’t stand alone as its own game, hence it still carries the Double Agent name.
Referring to these as versions 1 and 2 is a little dry, so I’ll call version 1 the main game and version 2 the port, even though it’s not strictly a port.
The main game was developed by Ubisoft Shanghai, who also developed Pandora Tomorrow, with a bit of help from Ubisoft Milan.
Ubisoft seemed to be alternating development teams at this point with the original game and Chaos Theory developed by Ubisoft Montreal, who were working on Splinter Cell Conviction during development of Double Agent.
Ubisoft Shanghai was a relatively inexperienced development team at the time.
Pandora Tomorrow was its first game and Double Agent the second.
In my video on Pandora Tomorrow, I tried to be as fair as possible on the game and highlighted what I liked about it, although it was at best on par with its predecessor and for most people likely not as good.
Compared to Chaos Theory… well, you almost can’t compare them such was the leap in quality.
In other words, I think it’s fair to describe Montreal as the A team and Shanghai as the B team.
And that’s where things get a little confusing, because Ubisoft Montreal actually developed the port of Double Agent, which has led to a lot of people championing the port as the better or more authentic version.
Obviously you’re welcome to prefer the port if you like, but it can’t be described as the premium experience just based on who developed it.
The Ubisoft Montreal team working on the port was not the same team that made the excellent Chaos Theory.
First of all, as stated, Ubisoft Montreal was also working on Splinter Cell Conviction, and given that Conviction was a big next gen project with a new engine, the more experienced developers within Montreal would have been moved to that project.
Now, you may be thinking that Conviction didn’t come out until 2010, so the team had plenty of time to do both, however, Conviction was originally slated for release back in 2008 and was effectively scrapped and started from scratch at one point.
Second, the creative director of Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, Clint Hocking, was shunted over to work on Far Cry 2, so even if Montreal had been the lead on Double Agent, it would have been worse off compared to Chaos Theory.
Finally, a lot of the Ubisoft Montreal developers who worked on Chaos Theory left near the end of development to form EA Montreal.
So yeah, you can prefer whichever of the two games you like, but it’s not true that the port was made by the same people who created Chaos Theory if you look beyond the company name.
Now, that said, the port does use the Chaos Theory engine and avoids the drastic changes Shanghai implemented to the main version, and it performs better at least.
However, it has a lot of the same problems around linearity and avoids one of the more interesting new elements found in the main version.
Unless stated otherwise, my comments relate to the main version, however, I will discuss the port as well, and my main criticism of Double Agent applies to both versions.
Story has never been Splinter Cell’s strong suit.
The first three games were fairly run of the mill espionage stories that saw Fisher tasked with stopping some big terrorist threat that conveniently saw him travel to exotic locations all over the world.
The story was mainly told through news broadcasts and mission briefings, although there are some cutscenes, and by the time we got to Chaos Theory, it felt like Ubisoft was starting to get the hang of things a bit.
Events were more coherent, the main antagonist had a connection to Fisher, and Fisher’s colleagues felt like real people.
Still, I didn’t go into Double Agent with especially high hopes for the story.
And even with suitably low expectations the opening chapter managed to surprise me with how utterly terrible it was.
Fisher is dropped into Iceland tasked with stopping a missile launch.
This time he’s not alone, with fellow Third Echelon agent John Hodge alongside him.
In the port, Hodge is replaced by Hisham Hanza, who confusingly appears in the main game later on in a different role.
Hodge is a rooky who’s not short of confidence and, against Fisher’s orders, he goes into the hideout before Fisher is ready and is promptly captured and killed while Fisher watches on.
Fisher completes the mission by himself and meets up with Lambert on the helicopter out, at which point Lambert tells him that his daughter was killed in a car accident, and there’s a big dramatic moment where Fisher throws his goggles into the ocean.
Fisher doesn’t take the news especially well, which is fair enough, and Lambert sends him undercover to prison with the goal of infiltrating a group called John Brown’s Army.
I dislike nearly everything about this setup.
The daughter thing is poorly handled.
Obviously while making my videos on the first three games, I already knew the daughter would be killed off, and I mentioned the lack of time devoted to Fisher’s relationship with her while trying to not spoil why that was a problem.
Well, this is why it’s a problem.
Other than a short scene in the first game, Fisher’s daughter hasn’t been in the games, so there’s a good chance players have forgotten about her, and they certainly won’t care about her as a character.
Some additional cutscenes of Fisher and his daughter, hell just one per game, would have made the player care a little about this big event.
With good writing, the daughter wouldn’t need a lot of screen time.
I was gutted when Joel’s daughter died at the beginning of The Last of Us, even though we hadn’t spent a lot of time with her.
Also, the writing and delivery around this moment is terrible.
For one thing, you shouldn’t tell a man their only child is dead while on a helicopter with an open door, but more importantly for the player, we don’t know why Fisher is so upset until Lambert tells us with a separate narration a few minutes later when he specifically mentions the daughter.
There are a million ways this could have been done better; one that comes to mind would be to have Fisher return from the mission to the base in a celebratory mood only to be surprised at how sad Lambert and co look.
You could then fade to black and the audio fade out as Fisher’s face changes in reaction to the news and Lambert explains what happened.
Or, the game could have started with a cutscene of Fisher enjoying time with his daughter before he’s called off to do this Iceland mission.
She could even be killed because he was on this mission.
Perhaps he was originally going to give her a lift somewhere and she ended up having to walk which resulted in her getting hit by the drunk driver.
This way, the player would see the daughter, however briefly, and it would be a great reason for Fisher to become disillusioned with his job and contextualize later events a bit better.
The inclusion of Hodge in this opening mission was also really odd.
What was the point of introducing a new character, and Fisher’s first ever partner in the field, only for them to die about five minutes after meeting them.
What really bugs me is that this could have made for a great late game twist.
You see, there’s something a bit off about the way Hodge insists on pushing forward even though he’s clearly told to hang back.
Fisher is just a few feet away, he might as well wait.
The second Fisher catches up with him, he’s gunned down in full view.
To this day, I still can’t believe the writers didn’t use Hodge as a traitor.
His death, and the circumstances around it, look and feel fake.
Sure, it’s supposed to show how cocky and unsuitable he is, but to what end? There are no consequences for Fisher.
As things stand, it’s just a very short story of an arrogant agent who quickly gets killed and is never heard from again.
It would have been really cool if, near the end of the game, Hodge was revealed to be alive having faked his death to work with the bad guys.
He could even be the one to give up Fisher’s real identity in the final level.
You’d spend the entire game assuming that the Double Agent of the title referred to Fisher, only for it to be about Hodge all along.
He was acting as a double agent when he pretended to work for Third Echelon and then faked his death when he had all the information he needed.
This could have easily been done with just a few minor tweaks to the story.
Speaking of missed opportunities, the early missions should have been Fisher committing the crimes like robbing banks that saw him sent to prison in the first place.
His crimes are glossed over in the story and the second mission starts with him in prison.
This would have been a great excuse for glamorous missions like perhaps stealing valuable art from a museum while also providing a ready made excuse for a no kill requirement.
Or, perhaps even better, these missions could be set up so that the player doesn’t know Fisher is doing this as part of a plan to get sent to prison.
You go from the cutscene with Fisher throwing away his goggles and seemingly abandoning his role with Third Echelon, before descending into a downward spiral that leads to him utilizing his skills for less honorable goals.
Fisher would then get caught at the end of a mission and we’d see Lambert in the background smile and nod at Fisher who returns the gesture to let us know that they are still working together.
And yes, I know previous games have done the whole bank robbery thing, but as we’ll see, there are a fair few repeated ideas on display already.
Fisher helps a man called Jamie Washington break out of prison and is recruited for John Brown’s Army, or JBA.
John Brown’s Army is named after an abolitionist called, unsurprisingly, John Brown who supported the use of force to end slavery.
He was eventually executed for inciting a slave rebellion, which certainly makes him sound like a hero in my book, although I don’t know enough about him to say for sure.
I had to check wikipedia to make sure I was thinking about the right guy.
The Americans amongst you may know a lot more about him.
John Brown’s Army wants to use similar violent means to overthrow an institution, but its goals are nowhere near as noble.
Fisher is forced to prove his worth and loyalty by testing bombs that JBA later wants to detonate in high-density populations around the US.
While Fisher is ostensibly working for JBA, he also feeds information to the NSA and is able to stop the bombs from going off at the end.
However, due to the undercover nature of his mission, and the death of Lambert, which I’ll discuss more later, Fisher is presumed to be a traitor and has to go on the run, which leads nicely into Conviction.
It’s yet another unremarkable story, except this one is made worse because Fisher has limited interaction with Lambert and Grimsdottir is nowhere to be seen or heard.
Instead, the main characters Fisher interacts with are the terrorists who, obviously, aren’t all that nice, and they are fairly two-dimensional to boot.
There’s one, Enrica, who has some internal conflict going on, but you don’t get to talk to her all that much either.
The result is another dry terrorism plot that can’t even be redeemed with some strong character relationships and a good old bit of mission banter.
In the port, the major characters are the same and the story plays out similarly, except the missions are framed as a series flashbacks told through a conversation between Fisher and an NSA director, hence it can’t be considered the canon version because as we’ll see in Conviction, Fisher is a wanted man.
The port also has a few missions take place in New York that aren’t in the main game, and the PS2 version has bonus levels.
Double Agent’s major gimmick is the conflict between Fisher’s desire to integrate himself within JBA by committing criminal acts while keeping the NSA happy by feeding it information.
Fisher’s conflicting priorities manifest in two major ways: (1) through two meters that represent JBA’s and the NSA’s happiness with Fisher’s actions and go up or down as Fisher completes and fails mandatory and optional mission objectives; and (2) via timed assignments that take place in JBA’s headquarters.
Both of these are good ideas and, while I loved Chaos Theory, I absolutely support developers trying new things, and this kind of experimentation is especially welcome when you have two development teams taking it in turns to make games in the series.
Pandora Tomorrow was far too similar to the first game, as shown by the big leap forward taken by Chaos Theory, so it’s great to see Ubisoft Shanghai taking risks.
But, as you’ve probably guessed by now, I don’t think either of these ideas were well executed.
The two meters are a great idea because they provide a ready made excuse for the player to go out of the way to complete optional objectives.
For example, during one mission your main objective is to capture a supertanker for JBA, however, you can earn credit with the NSA by getting a message out to Lambert so that he knows where you are and what you’re doing.
You’re also given an optional JBA mission to kill a fixed number of enemies on the tanker.
Another mission takes place on a cruise ship where Fisher is tasked with planting a bomb for JBA.
While doing so, he can also plant a smoke bomb so that the Mexican police aboard the boat take the bomb threat seriously and evacuate.
The problem with this meter system is that it’s simply too easy to maintain both of them at full or close to full.
You’d have to go out of your way to reduce either of these meters to zero although if you do then it’s game over.
But yeah, I just can’t imagine anyone completing the levels while not somehow racking up enough points to progress.
Gaining support is far more common than losing it, so it’s not so much a balancing act as it is a case of getting as many points with both parties as possible.
The NSA frowns on a few things, like killing a hostage, however, they don’t punish Fisher if he opts to kill a bunch of guards on the aforementioned boat mission.
John Brown’s Army is fairly lax with how Fisher completes his missions, and while out in the field, the main way to lose their support is by simply being late to a meeting or extraction.
There aren’t many either/or choices during missions, so it’s not a case of choosing the NSA over JBA or vice versa.
You can just do all the missions and get all the support.
There are attempts to make completing the optional objectives somewhat risky, but it often feels contrived.
For example, on that cruise ship mission, after placing the bomb, Fisher can quickly get the detonation code.
It’s easy and there’s no reason not to do it really.
However, if you do take the time to get the detonation code and therefore linger in the room for a couple of seconds, the leader of the JBA gets suspicious when he clearly has no reason to.
It’s a stealth mission.
Fisher always takes his time.
This action isn’t inherently suspicious in any way.
The NSA/JBA conflict works well in some missions.
For example, in Shanghai, right at the end of the mission, Fisher has to grab a scientist’s notes from a safe and immediately after JBA swing by the room in a helicopter to pick him up.
However, the NSA also chimes in to say they want Fisher to kill the scientist in question who is returning to his room.
There’s a decent push and pull element at work here.
If you sit and wait for the scientist to return you lose JBA support while they wait for you which is fair enough because they know you are in this exact hotel room and that you’ve completed all your missions for them, plus they are hanging outside in a helicopter.
You can minimize lost JBA trust by either not killing the scientist or going after him to kill him quicker, although this is of course a lot riskier.
This was one of the few times I felt underpressure while trying to maximize support with both sides.
A better approach might have been to start with no respect from JBA, i.
an empty meter, and full support from the NSA, ie a full bar, and then have the player try to gain as much support as possible from JBA without losing too much from the NSA.
Instead, you start with nearly full meters for both and it’s hard to lose enough respect to make the meters any kind of a threat to completion.
The lack of conflict between JBA and the NSA requests does kind of make sense.
After all, the NSA wants you to gain the trust of JBA and therefore it’s going to want you to do the same things JBA wants you to do.
They can’t expect Fisher to join a terrorist gang and not get his hands dirty.
However, I’d have the player punished more for a messy approach.
We know the NSA likes to keep its presence a secret whereas JBA doesn’t much care about causing chaos.
You’re given a stealth rating at the end of each mission where you’re judged on the usual stuff like bodies discovered, alerts activated, and enemies killed.
Perhaps a less stealthy approach should be punished through the NSA meter.
The port takes a slightly different, and perhaps better, approach with only one meter and you have to maintain a balance between the two.
At least this way you can’t be loved by both sides, although there’s something inherently unexciting about having to stay in the middle.
It feels like playing a neutral character instead of a good or evil one.
That’s not the case–there’s a challenge in remaining balanced here–it just isn’t as immediately fun or video gamey as keeping meters full, I guess.
The other major new idea is the undercover missions in the headquarters of John Brown’s Army.
Of the ten missions, four of them take place in this building, although the last one has a significant enough twist that it feels completely different.
The first three on the other hand are quite similar.
They all give you 30 minutes to complete assignments for both sides.
Nearly everything is optional, although given that you have to pass the 30 minutes anyway, you might as well complete the objectives.
You’re typically set a primary task by JBA such as cracking a safe at the end of a training course or crafting some explosives, and perhaps an optional one as well, such as disposing of a body.
These tasks are usually incredibly easy and essentially feel like chores.
They must solely exist to take up some of the 30 minute timer, because I fail to believe anyone finds crafting ten of these explosives exciting.
I could understand three or maybe even five, but ten is tedious in the extreme.
The training course is simply an exercise in patience as you wait for lasers to pass before moving.
There is one challenging, and frankly terrible, puzzle involving a cube that I had to draw out by hand to solve.
It’s not that it is inherently all that difficult a puzzle–doing it by hand is easy–it’s just the way the cube is displayed on the screen and the way it rotates, changing the number orientation as it does so, makes it frustrating in the extreme.
Anyway, like every responsible adult, Fisher completes his chores before focusing on the fun stuff, which in his case is the NSA objectives like scanning information from a safe in the leaders office, or tapping the server.
Fisher is generally allowed to wander around the facility, but he needs to go into restricted areas to complete those NSA missions and if he’s caught in there, then he loses JBA reputation.
The best part of this base is the way it opens up as you progress.
There are a lot of locked doors that you can’t initially get past because they have voice, fingerprint, or iris recognition locks, but Fisher can use his tech to get samples of voice, fingerprints, and eyes to get into the high level areas.
The base expands like a metroidvania as you progress.
Even though I like these sections in principle, they are far too slow and tedious to be enjoyable and they feel like an exercise in stretching out the game’s runtime.
In addition to the boring chores, you can’t move faster than a walk at all, so exploration is painfully slow.
You also can’t interact with people much, leaving the environment feeling rather sterile.
Walking from one end to the other wouldn’t be so bad if you could talk to people, maybe pop a few short optional objectives or what have you, but as it stands, you just walk around and that really is about it.
I know this is a totally out of left field comparison, but these missions could have done with a few Persona vibes.
You have 30 minutes on the clock, which is more than enough time to do the optional objectives.
Why not give Fisher the option to hang out, or build social links I guess, with members of the crew to develop relationships.
Find out which ones might be susceptible to pressure or get them to drop some password hints.
It could even be played for laughs to add a bit of humor to an otherwise drab affair, such as having Fisher casually asking people what their mothers’ maiden names are and the city they were born in.
The only notable relationship is with Enrica who Fisher can trigger dialogue with and even kiss if he bumps into her in a restricted area.
Whatever the case, these sections should have been in addition to the standard missions not instead of new ones which they clearly are.
Without counting the missions in this base, there are only six, and even though you do access new areas and the base eventually becomes quite big, there’s no way these should count as full missions.
The parts where you sneak around restricted areas aren’t much more exciting.
Other than fingerprint scanners and the like, Fisher doesn’t have any of his gadgets or weapons.
He can’t even knock out the JBA members, which makes sense because they would know there was a traitor amongst them.
Still, it makes for fairly boring stealth sections because the only tactic is to keep behind cover.
Stealth games without gadgets feel like those crammed in stealth sections in games like Marvel’s Spider-Man.
Boring at best, annoying at worst.
The HQ would have been better off as a more casual base of operations that Fisher could hang out in between missions, leaving it up to the player when they leave.
They can socialize and choose who to hang out with, or sneak around and get the NSA information, until they are done and ready to move on.
As it stands, the thirty minute timer and lack of character interaction makes these areas feel like a chore.
The HQ is treated a little differently in the port, where there are only two missions here and they are more like regular missions with Fisher being allowed to knock guards out and interrogate them.
While these missions are stronger in the port, it does mean this version doesn’t have as much emphasis on the Double Agent part of the story and effectively removes one of the features that distinguishes Double Agent from its predecessors.
While the new ideas don’t quite come together, that isn’t what makes Double Agent so disappointing.
Ubisoft Shanghai tried something different and it didn’t quite work.
So be it.
The real problem is one which was unfortunately all too predictable given the team’s work on Pandora Tomorrow, and that’s the boring level design.
In the Chaos Theory video I stopped referring to missions as levels and started using the term maps because that’s what they felt like.
It’s a minor distinction, but an important one.
Chaos Theory’s maps were locations Fisher was dumped in with objectives to complete.
They were expansive and offered player choice for how to get around.
Pandora Tomorrow, and unfortunately Double Agent, have levels where you start at A and keep pushing forward until you reach B.
There are few options, and even fewer that make any difference.
If anything, Double Agent’s maps are a step back from those of Pandora Tomorrow.
While both games were linear, Pandora Tomorrow at least had interesting locations and created moments of tension.
Double Agent has levels that turn spectacular sounding events into absolute drudgery.
Let’s look at some comparisons.
Pandora Tomorrow and Double Agent both have levels that involve Fisher clinging on for dear life and shimmying along windows trying to avoid detection.
In Pandora Tomorrow, this is the train level that sees you move from one end of a train to the other, which is about as linear as you can get.
Double Agent has a level set in Shanghai where Fisher has to zipline down the outside of a skyscraper, climb down pipes, and shimmy along ledges to listen in on a conversation before doing the same thing again and sneaking back inside via a vent.
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it.
The train level and the section of the Shanghai level discussed above are linear with only one notable approach.
Both have some instant fail states you can easily trigger which are annoying and not challenging as such.
And yet, the train level is entertaining enough for one playthrough.
You’re hanging from the side of a moving train.
The wind is loud, Sam loses his grip a couple of times and nearly falls off.
It’s chaotic and tense even though the tension is kind of fake in the same way that Nathan Drake losing his grip in Uncharted games is not really tense if you stop to think about it.
Shanghai doesn’t have any tension, real or fake.
In both levels you have to shimmy past some randoms looking out the window and yet while it was quite easy to be spotted on the train, it is seemingly impossible to be spotted on the side of the building.
For most of the time on this building, there’s no noise or feeling of risk.
There are no howling winds or sounds from the distant streets below.
Fisher doesn’t wobble or lose his grip.
While recording the meeting, there is a man patrolling the window nearby but you never have to move to stay out of his line of sight.
In fact, once again, I think it’s impossible to be spotted by him even though he gets pretty close near the end of the meeting.
Once you have all the evidence you need, Fisher does have to get a bit of a move on because a helicopter looks for him, but you just need to press down for a bit and then left.
You don’t have any choice for which direction to go, which means there’s little tension.
Double Agent often makes this act of ziplining down from the ceiling a lifeless experience.
Near the end, Fisher is tasked by the NSA with bugging a meeting–a different meeting from the one we listened to in Shanghai by the way.
Fisher must plant a bug in a vase placed in the middle of the room, and let’s not even get into how silly that is when he has a directional microphone that he just used in Shanghai, and to get to vase he has to climb across a convenient collection of pipes and ledges, while avoiding touching the pressure sensitive floor or triggering any of the lasers.
Real Mission Impossible stuff in other words.
This is clearly intended as a big set piece moment but it’s duller than a zelda game.
There’s no skill in maneuvering around the pipes and avoiding the lasers because the lasers keep turning off for relatively significant stretches of time.
You simply move a bit.
Move a bit more.
Why on earth do the lasers keep cycling off anyway? When Fisher had to deal with lasers in Chaos Theory he had to do things like carrying a guards body because the guard had a sensor that would turn the lasers off or temporarily deactivate the lasers with his electric jammer.
He still has that jammer by the way.
This section would have been more tense if Fisher had to figure out which lasers to deactivate and when to ensure he could make it through in time.
Anything to add a bit of player involvement really.
To be fair, after the meeting there is one of the few tense moments as Fisher has to make it back to the parking garage before the JBA boss gets there.
This could have been more interesting if you had to decide how long you stayed and listened to the meeting, with the more you heard, the more you gained NSA trust, while risking not being able to get back to the meeting spot in time which would lose you JBA trust.
A few borderline comical moments are included in cutscenes to add tension, such as Fisher’s parachute failing to open which is easily rectified by pressing the same button you pressed to open it again, or the moment where you have to control a helicopter that is about to crash by ever so slightly levelling it out.
I honestly have no idea why they bothered including these moments.
They are quick time events without the need to be quick.
I feel a touch guilty about criticizing Pandora Tomorrow’s linear levels now because clearly they could have been a lot worse.
I complained about the first part of the Paris level that, despite offering options for exactly how you move from one room to another, tended to provide a clear path of least resistance that stopped the choice being interesting.
At least that level tried to mix things up a bit with guards storming into rooms just after Fisher enters and freezer sections with brains lying on the ground.
The linearity still wasn’t necessary or ideal, but it didn’t feel forced either.
Compare that to the supertanker level.
There are artificial blockages everywhere to stop you progressing from one end of the boat to the other when surely it would be more interesting if most of the boat was open from the start and you had to figure out how to move around without being spotted and how to get the info you need to progress into the secret areas.
Instead, what could have been an open level ends up funnelling you from one end to the other.
In Pandora Tomorrow’s Jerusalem level, Fisher had to move from the streets to the roofs and back again to avoid detection from police officers all while following his new contact Dhalia who leads him to an underground lab.
In other levels, Fisher infiltrated television stations and snuck around an airport.
In Double Agent, the locations are bland.
There are two boats, empty expanses of ice, and lots of rooftops.
Things become even less flattering when you compare Double Agent to Chaos Theory.
Take the bank level in Chaos Theory where there are two different ways to get in: there’s the front door or the more subtle entrance via the roof.
Your choice of route here makes a huge difference to how the level plays out.
Going through the front door will likely force Fisher to use a weapon early on for a start and your chances of remaining undetected are much slimmer.
And let’s not get into how excellent this level is once you’re inside with the whole breaking into a bank vault and stealing $50 million thing.
Double Agent has a level where you need to sneak aboard a supertanker and take control of it.
There are once again two entrances to the boat, except this time they are next to each other, equally obvious, and it doesn’t make a difference which one you use.
Even though you’d think climbing on board via a motorized boat would be noisy, it doesn’t attract any more attention than using a rope to climb up.
A choice of entrance like this is only interesting if the choice has consequences.
This one doesn’t.
Going the opposite way, when you have to break out of your prison cell there is only one option and that’s a Shawshank tunnel behind a poster.
Compare this to the original Metal Gear Solid which let you trick a guard into entering the cell by clever use of a handkerchief and tomato ketchup and this was back in 1998.
That prison cell escape was memorable.
This is not.
Oh, and at the end of the level, the helicopter seems to take off without the man you were actually here to rescue.
On a more minor note, there are bizarre choices like having Fisher wait for these lifts to move slowly so that he can go down a couple of floors instead of just using his zipline which would have been quicker and far less dull.
Outside of the missions in JBA headquarters, the only map that’s really memorable is the one in Kinshasa and that’s more because it’s so incredibly bright compared to the typical Splinter Cell level and not because of any interesting design.
The cruise ship has it’s good moments as well, although I think they could have done more with Fisher initially being disguised as a guest, perhaps more along the lines of Hitman, where he is able to walk around in plain view.
Instead, Fisher is confined to his room from the start because the Mexican police are looking for a bomb, which means the second Fisher steps out of his room via the balcony, he’s going places he shouldn’t, effectively negating the point of him having a disguise at all.
The level design isn’t much better in the port.
Even though the port uses same engine from Chaos Theory and looks much the same at first glance, there’s a distinct lack of options for how you progress.
Whereas the level design doesn’t offer much gameplay choice, Double Agent’s story does offer more narrative choice than any Splinter Cell game to date.
Previous choices of note were whether or not Fisher kills Dhalia Tal on Lambert’s order in Pandora Tomorrow and whether to save the pilots of a crashed plane in Chaos Theory.
Both of these choices were made during the missions and didn’t have a notable impact on the story.
They were just choices you could make.
That doesn’t make them bad.
I thought saving the pilots in Chaos Theory was especially interesting, but it didn’t change the story at all.
There are three major choices in Double Agent and your decisions, when weighed alongside the two support meters, affect the exact ending you get.
The first choice takes place in the headquarters after the mission on the cruise ship where Fisher helped plant a bomb.
During that mission, Fisher had the choice to get the detonation code and, if he did, Fisher can opt to turn off the bomb before it detonates, although doing this drops his reputation within JBA.
Letting the bomb explode keeps JBA happy and upsets the NSA instead.
There is a third option.
During this headquarters assignment, Fisher can steal Enrica’s detonation code and use that to deactivate the bomb.
This effectively frames Enrica for the bomb not going off and results in her execution and a much smaller loss of support within JBA.
Strangely, though, even if you don’t frame Enrica, she is still executed, so the only difference is that by framing her Fisher is not blamed as much.
During the mission in Kinshasa, Emile, the leader of John Brown’s Army asks Fisher to kill an NSA spy and Lambert would obviously quite like it if Fisher didn’t do that.
If you spare his life, Fisher helps him reach a safe house and sets off a bomb to fake the agent's death anyway which keeps JBA happy.
Ultimately, you can’t upset JBA with this choice because no matter what you do, they think he’s dead.
This NSA spy is Hisham, who strangely, is the man who accompanies Fisher in the first mission if you’re playing the port.
The final choice is back in JBA headquarters.
The crew captured a man sneaking around outside the base.
They don’t know exactly who he is, but we do: it’s Lambert.
Fisher can either kill Lambert or Jamie Washington, the guy you rescued from prison to get with this crew in the first place and who is conveniently the only one left in the room with Fisher.
I opted to kill Jamie which puts the entire base on high alert.
If Enrica is still alive, she figures out you’re an undercover agent, but gives you weapons to use because she wants you to stop the bombs.
If she’s not around, you can still pick up weapons lying around the base.
If Fisher kills Lambert, he still needs to stop the bombs, although he’s able to maintain his cover for longer.
I really didn’t like this late game choice.
There isn’t enough motivation to kill Lambert here.
We already know where the bombs are.
We’ve obtained basically all the information we can get from JBA.
Fisher’s cover is blown earlier if you kill Jamie instead of Lambert, but it’s going to happen at some point soon anyway.
That’s not the sort of thing you execute your boss over.
This choice would have had more impact earlier, perhaps as a way to ingratiate Fisher into JBA in the first place.
At this late stage there’s no reason to kill Lambert.
Which makes it somewhat surprising that this is actually the canon resolution.
As we’ll see in subsequent games, Fisher does kill Lambert here and I hate that.
There are three variations on the ending.
If Fisher does the bad thing on all three decisions–letting the boat blow up and executing the spy and Lambert–or does two bad things and has NSA trust below 33% then he is captured but escapes using a smoke grenade.
If he does two bad things or one bad thing and has NSA trust below 33% then he is arrested but escapes before trial.
The canon ending is your reward for doing the good thing all three times or twice and having NSA trust above 33%.
In this ending, Fisher escapes the compound by knocking out a SWAT officer and stealing his uniform.
He then heads to New York to stop one of the other bombs.
This boat section is a short playable bonus mission.
While all the endings have Fisher on the run, the last one is the only one that ends with “to be continued.
” I imagine most people get the good ending.
Letting the boat blow up is the only bad thing I did because it seemed low on consequences, whereas I wasn’t about to execute fellow agents.
It’s nigh on impossible to end below 33% NSA trust so you’ll still get the good ending.
Whatever ending you get, Fisher is on the run because he was deep undercover in one of those “the government will deny all knowledge” type situations.
Given that the endings are much the same, the story choices don’t add a great deal to the experience, but as with the undercover aspects, I appreciate Ubisoft Shanghai’s attempts to push the series forward in new ways.
Story was never Splinter Cell’s strong suit, so the relative lack of success with this approach doesn’t matter all that much.
Changing how Splinter Cell plays is a lot riskier and here I would argue that Ubisoft Shanghai not only failed to push the series forward, it took a couple of significant steps back.
In fact, I’d argue nearly every change it made was a bad one.
The most notable change is the almost complete lack of a HUD.
I can’t quite believe I’m going to criticize an Ubisoft game for not having enough information on the screen.
Whereas Chaos Theory’s HUD displayed info on the mission, the weapon you were holding, and meters to show how lit up Fisher was and how much noise he was making, Double Agent just has the mission objective in the bottom left hand corner most of the time.
There are some dynamic elements, so weapon info does pop up when aiming, but that’s it.
A nice clean screen.
Sounds like a dream HUD.
In the video I published just before this one on the Witcher 3, I spoke about how horrendous the default HUD was and how I used a mod to clear all the junk off the screen.
I should be in heaven here.
Minimal HUDs can be great for immersion and I enjoyed exploring the world of the Witcher so much more without all that visual noise.
In the Splinter Cell franchise, though, I found the information useful and think it added to the experience.
We were playing as a spy with high tech gadgets at his disposal.
The information on the screen represented the information that Fisher might have on a watch or gadget that he could easily see.
The HUD was simply a way to tell the player what Fisher already knew.
It wasn’t highlighting a million and one random points of interest.
It was helpful and already minimal.
Weirdly, this HUD not only manages to be minimal it also manages to be glaringly ugly and distracting at times.
Whenever you want to interact with something, be it to open a door, take down an enemy, or use a computer, this massive blue icon pops up in the middle, destroying any sense of immersion or realism that this new HUD might have been going for.
The light meter in Chaos Theory showed just how hidden Fisher was.
At either end, he could be hiding in deep dark shadows or standing under a lightbulb.
In the middle he might be in an open corridor but with the nearest couple of lights blown out so that he is only dimly lit.
You could see the meter change as you interacted with the environment, turning off or disabling lights and moving around corners.
Environmental details such as lightning in the sky sent the meter shooting up as a warning that Fisher could be spotted by enemies.
The sound meter displayed not only how much noise Fisher was making, but the amount of background noise in the environment, showing the player how much noise they could get away with making without being spotted.
Again, this meter would change on the spur of the moment for noises like thunder or nearby gunfire.
Double Agent removes both of these crucial meters and replaces them with a solitary traffic light system on Fisher’s shoulder that shows when he is hidden, exposed, or caught.
To be clear, it’s not the removal of these meters that I inherently have a problem with.
Things like light, background noise, and temporary changes like thunderstorms can all be communicated through the visuals and audio anyway.
The meters just make things a bit clearer.
In fact, a good hard mode challenge for Chaos Theory would be to play without the meters.
Unfortunately, Double Agent does not work like this.
With regards to sound, background noise doesn’t seem to make a blind bit of difference to whether guards can hear you.
They are perfectly capable of hearing Fisher crawling slowly through a warzone or in the middle of a prison riot unless you go at the slowest possible speed in which case you officially make no noise.
None of this seems to be communicated through actual sound effects so to the player it doesn’t sound like Fisher is making any more noise at the second slowest crawl speed than he is at the first.
The only way you can really tell he’s louder is that he’s constantly spotted by guards.
Oh, and it appears that light amplifies noise.
When Fisher is standing in an exposed area guards are more likely to hear him even if they are not facing him.
Or maybe that’s not it and the noise levels are just incredibly inconsistent; it’s hard to tell.
I might be trying to apply hard and fast rules about science and common sense, to a system that is just broken, like trying to model the results of a US election.
The light meter is effectively binary.
You can ignore red because that means Fisher has been spotted already; it isn’t attuned to how lit up he is.
Green means you are hidden, and by hidden, I mean enemies will trip over you and still be completely oblivious to your presence, and orange means you’re as subtle as those fanboys Bethesda plants in its press conferences to whoop and cheer while Todd Howard lies to them about Fallout games.
There’s little in the way of middle ground or adjustment for how far away an enemy might be.
Again, lack of an obvious light meter doesn’t have to be a problem.
The first three Splinter Cell games were pretty good at communicating when Fisher was exposed and hidden through the effective use of shadows and lighting.
Double Agent is not.
When moving around, my eyes ended up glued to the light on Fisher’s shoulder because it was simply the only way to tell whether he was hidden.
There are points where I was certain Fisher was hidden when he wasn’t and vice versa.
This leads to the second most glaring change, and that’s the relative lack of shadow in Double Agent.
I don’t mind the odd level set out in the open such as the one where you have to infiltrate a supertanker or Kinshasa, and Pandora Tomorrow experimented with this in the jungle level, but even the indoor levels are reluctant to provide much darkness.
I turned down the gamma at one point because I was certain the screen was overexposed, but that didn’t make any noticeable difference.
I can’t think of anything more crucial to the Splinter Cell experience than darkness and shadow.
Fisher’s icon is the three green lights that represent his night vision.
He’s famous for how he looks in the dark.
I swear I am not exaggerating but outside of a couple of times when I accidentally pressed the wrong button, I did not use night vision once in Double Agent.
I obviously turned lights off and did my best to stay in the dark; it’s just, the dark isn’t actually dark here.
It’s the sort of darkness you get in TV shows where a scene takes place at night, but the cameras still need to be able to make out the actors, so it’s artificially too light.
I wanted to use thermal vision in Kinshasa to spot land mines, however, in that level you don’t have your goggles.
I do like the replacement aviator shades though, that Fisher can lift up to remove the tint on the screen.
I know this is a running theme at this point, however, gameplay is another area where Ubisoft Shanghai made changes which were good in theory but poorly executed.
I feel a little bad about a couple of them, because they were actually changes I advocated for in my previous videos.
Just goes to show how hard it is to keep gamers happy.
In the first two games, the pistol was wildly unreliable.
Even if you held it steady, shots would still somehow land outside the reticle which lead to silly situations like Fisher, the experienced NSA operative, missing a light bulb from three feet.
I wanted the pistol to be a little more accurate, and, well, it’s definitely more accurate now.
Stupidly so, in fact.
I was able to consistently pull off long range headshots even though the reticule spread suggested there was a good chance I’d miss.
Actually, I’d argue the pistol is more accurate than the rifle when aiming down the scope, which was incredibly inaccurate.
Mind you, this scope is absolutely brilliant.
I love how it only zooms in on the space in front of it and not the entire screen like most first person shooters do.
The problem with the pistol being so accurate is of course how easy this now makes the game.
If you can pull off headshots from afar, there’s no need to sneak up close to enemies, which removes much of the challenge.
There should have been a sensible middle ground here, such as having the reticule area be completely accurate to where the bullet will land, without the game compensating for long range shots where the reticule is much larger than what you’re aiming at and yet you still hit the shot all the time anyway.
One request I made in the Chaos Theory video was to have rewards tied to the optional objectives such as new gear for the next mission.
Maybe this was a subconscious memory from Double Agent creeping in, because in this game, you do get gadgets as rewards for completing optional objectives.
The devs provided exactly what I asked for, and I hate it.
That’s a bit harsh.
It is a good idea.
You get rewards such as smoke grenades, different types of wall mines, and the ability to skip the hacking mini game on security terminals, however, this means that by the second half of the game, Fisher is sent on missions with more gadgets and gear than he’ll ever use.
Perhaps in part due to how powerful the pistol is, I never used the various wall mines or most of the attachments for the rifle.
It’s just too much.
An easy fix here would be to add a cost or weight restriction to limit what you can take into each mission, similar to what Chaos Theory did.
That way, the new gadgets would add variety without reducing the challenge to the point of absurdity.
The port handles gadgets a bit differently.
If JBA favors you, then you get more brute force gadgets, whereas if the NSA trusts you more, you get the high-tech stuff.
One gadget that is way too useful is the ultrasonic emitter.
This device creates a noise distraction in the location you aim it which makes it an easy way to lure enemies away.
I tried to limit how often I used this because it’s as close to overpowered as you can get in a stealth game.
Fisher can whistle naturally, which also distracts guards, but in this case it lures them towards you.
That adds enough risk to limit its use.
The emitter has no such restrictions other than a short timer.
The emitter also makes picking up bottles and cans completely pointless, although they are still around, and you won’t need to use sticky noisemakers anymore either.
Speaking of lack of difficulty, there doesn’t seem to be much punishment for leaving dead bodies out in the open anymore.
If a guard walks right into a body, then sure, they get suspicious, however, there’s no alarm system punishing you outside of that and given that guard’s patrol routes don’t overlap that much, you can easily take everyone out.
I only hid bodies a couple of times, and that was likely overkill.
A minor but annoying change is how a separate screen now pops up when you access computer terminals.
These transitions used to be much smoother and you could get caught while snooping.
In Double Agent, the game pauses while you are at a terminal so again there’s no tension.
There’s a similar transition when using the optic cable which is much more distracting when compared to previous games.
I suppose I should give credit to some of the new contextual takedowns such as when Fisher bursts through the ice to kill an enemy directly above him.
These feel more like quick time events than interesting stealth options though because the only way you know the enemy is above you is due to the slightly different prompt you get on screen.
You can’t see them through the ice and you can’t usually hear them either; you have to rely on the game to tell you they are there.
One change I like, or am at least ambivalent about, is the move to regenerating health.
Health was never much of an issue in the previous games because most people play not to get caught, and if you did, you either died, or found a health pack shortly after to recover lost health.
It wasn’t a regenerating health system, but in practice it didn’t make much difference.
A combination of poor level design, boring undercover assignments, and a bunch of negative gameplay tweaks is enough to make Double Agent the worst Splinter Cell game I’ve played in this series to date.
Most of the issues apply to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions as well as PC because they are problems inherent in the game.
However, the PC version has oh so many more problems of its own.
Enough to make Double Agent outright bad in my book.
While I haven’t played the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions, looking at YouTube videos suggests they have better lighting and actual shadows in places, so that gives them a bump.
On the other hand, they both seem to have huge frame rate issues, with most reviews mentioning the frame rate as contributing to lower scores.
This problem may be mitigated if you play on Xbox One via backwards compatibility, although I haven’t seen any evidence of that.
But the PC version.
oh sweet baby jesus it’s an absolute mess.
If you include the bonus mission, there are 11 missions in total and six of them had such significant bugs that I had to do either one or a combination of the following: restart the mission, verify and fix the game files, reinstall the game, disconnect my second monitor, turn all the graphics settings to their lowest levels, and eventually download someone else's save file because I couldn’t progress.
Let’s start with the major issues.
After letting the boat blow up, there is a short celebration which is presumably supposed to end at some point.
Instead, it just stays in this loop of people cheering awkwardly.
I reloaded a save and tried stopping the boat from blowing up and framing Enrica, but the same problem happened, albeit with a slightly different scene.
Enrica is supposed to be shot, but it just hangs.
The same thing happened right at the end of the game.
The SWAT team is supposed to burst in from the roof, but it never happens.
For this end scene, I was able to fix the issue by turning the resolution down to 800 by 600, reducing the graphics to low, and disconnecting my second monitor.
However, this didn’t work for the earlier scene with the boat exploding and there was nothing I could do to trigger the end of this mission.
I ended up having to download someone’s complete save file just so I could progress to the next mission.
There was a major bug in Shanghai which, after a bit of investigation online, appears to be the result of a corrupted save file.
It’s certainly a known bug.
After spying on the meeting, Fisher zips down and should be able to grab this guard when he peaks over the top of the vent however the guard is always aware of Fisher and the grab prompt never appears.
You can still progress from here so long as you don’t mind losing your no alert status, however, if you try to save the game then it crashes.
There are checkpoints during the mission which automatically save the game and that also causes a crash so the only option is to start again from the beginning of the mission.
To be fair, that doesn’t take long once you know what you’re doing.
My annoyance here was more that I didn’t know what was going wrong.
I didn’t know there was supposed to be a grab prompt under the vent and I couldn’t understand why the guard could always see Fisher.
I thought the helicopter must have spotted me although it wasn’t clear how.
I was never able to complete the bonus level.
It kept crashing and quite often when I tried to restart, Fisher would just fall through the environment.
This is a common problem with the checkpoints at the beginning of levels for some reason.
The mission in Kinshasa was a complete mess and the whole thing feels largely incomplete.
The biggest issue here was when most of the sound disappeared after the scene where you’re supposed to shoot the spy.
Not all the sound disappears mind you.
There’s still the odd explosion and bit of gunfire, but bigger moments were completely silent and Fisher seemed to trigger explosives that shouldn’t be there.
Once you meet up with the spy, you’re supposed to take him to safety, however, you can’t hear the conversation Fisher has with him or with Lambert, so it’s hard to tell what you have to do.
Fortunately, the levels are so linear, you just push forward and get to the end anyway.
The lack of sound, or partial lack of sound to be more precise, was quite common, especially during the cutscenes leading into missions.
On a slightly more minor note, Fisher would regularly get stuck on the scenery forcing a restart from the last save point.
There were a lot of graphical glitches with the environment and there’s a weird effect where it looks like your monitor has fade in from another scene.
Enemies ragdoll around erratically at times and Fisher can’t shoot through huge gaps in the environment.
This stuff doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it genuinely affects your mindset while playing.
In just the first few levels, I died due to getting stuck on the environment multiple times or because Fisher couldn’t shoot through what clearly looks like a gap in the metalwork.
The result is that I started saving a lot.
Far more than I would usually save in a game like this one.
I became so paranoid of game breaking bugs that I quicksaved regularly and created multiple new save files per mission.
I mentioned earlier that there was a lack of tension, well, that’s not quite true.
I was always on edge expecting to lose progress because of something breaking.
In Ubisoft Shanghai’s other Splinter Cell game, Pandora Tomorrow, I had a lot of issues with guards acting erratically and that’s the case here too.
For a long time, I assumed this was a problem with bad AI, but having seen the issue with the constantly alert guard in the Shanghai mission, I’m now not sure whether it was an AI issue or a bug.
There were moments like this one in the prison breakout where a couple of guards seem to constantly spot Fisher, even though he’s hidden, and they don’t quite know what to do about it and just get stuck in a loop.
Pandora Tomorrow had a fair few issues as well and I did wonder at one point whether that was why Ubisoft didn’t sell the game on Uplay, however, given how broken Double Agent is, which is available for sale, I can’t see how that’s the case.
Ubisoft Shanghai also tweaked the multiplayer that was so popular in Chaos Theory, and it sounds like those changes weren’t too popular.
I can’t really comment on that, because I could only mess around with the multiplayer using bots and even then only as a spy.
I can see why the changes would have been controversial though.
The spies are incredibly quick and nimble–practically super-human now–and the slower, more methodical, approach of previous games looks more appealing to me.
The more I play these old Splinter Cell games the more desperate I am for the series to come back just so I can play some multiplayer.
I know Rainbow Six: Siege has some similar vibes and I’d probably enjoy it if I was good enough at those sorts of shooters, but alas, it’s beyond me.
Double Agent was not especially well received on release, not when you consider how inflated review scores were back then.
I remember being disappointed in the scores for Double Agent when I bought my regular selection of magazines that month, but it was more Splinter Cell and there still weren’t a tonne of stealth games on the PS2, especially not realistic ones.
I didn’t think critically about games back then.
I simply played through the PS2 version of Double Agent once and put it away, feeling rather underwhelmed with the whole thing.
Even back then, I knew it was disappointingly linear, but I didn’t know about the whole split between next gen and old gen versions, nor the loss of key employees at Ubisoft Montreal.
Looking back now, it’s clear Ubisoft tried to do too much.
Creating two different versions of one game always risks over-complicating things, even more so when you have to build a new engine.
Ideally, a full-strength Ubisoft Montreal would have been responsible for developing the main version and the new engine to go with it, and Ubisoft Shanghai would have done the port.
Ubisoft Shanghai was still relatively inexperienced and Pandora Tomorrow was the weakest of the original three.
Having that team make Ubisoft’s first major next gen game was probably not a great idea.
I’m sure there’s a temptation to label Double Agent as a good game, just not a good Splinter Cell game, given that some of my criticisms were around changes to the series.
I don’t buy that at all.
The changes remove important elements, such as effective use of lighting and optional routes through levels, without replacing them with anything.
For example, a lack of darkness wouldn’t be a problem if it was replaced with effective use of camouflage but even though Fisher does wear camouflage it doesn’t make any difference.
Anyway, it’s not like they turned Splinter Cell from a stealth game to an action game.
That change would come a little later.
Okay, that’s it for me today.
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The Splinter Cell series will continue soon with Conviction.
I also have videos on The Witcher 3 DLC and Shadowrun in the works, plus quite a bit more.
Okay, until next time.