Ubisoft Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent
Splinter Cell Double Agent is the first appearance of Tom Clancy's stealthy franchise on the Xbox 360 and it couldn't have come at a better time.
- Immersive experience, graphics, better AI
- Would have been nice to be have the opportunity to go Rambo every now and again
With multiple difficulty levels, and a host of multiplayer options, this is a great addition to the Splinter Cell canon.
Price$ 49.95 (AUD)
First off, let me say that I am a huge Splinter Cell fan and have abnormally high expectations for the series. It's consistently gotten the spy thing right, and it's not the story or characters that get the job done. It's the spot-on controls that allow Sam to perform virtually any action at ease.
Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow was definitely the series' low point (though 'mild point' would probably be a better description), knocked for its linear design and somewhat messy multiplayer. But the jump to Chaos Theory was a huge one; the developer ditched the linear style and allowed the player to accomplish objectives in a variety of ways. They also revamped the multiplayer, and even added split-screen cooperative play.
And we see yet another significant leap with the jump to the next-gen. Double Agent falls into a rare breed sequels that live up to the hype and expectations generated by its predecessors.
The first and most noticeable improvement to the franchise formula lies in the control mechanics, which have been redesigned to emphasise both simplicity and function. The HUD has been simplified so there isn't anything to get in the way of the on-screen action. There is an small bar on the bottom left corner of the display that displays your current objectives as well as a colour-coded circle that shows his level of visibility. There is also a trust meter on the top left but we'll talk more about that later.
Unlike the past versions of Splinter Cell, Double Agent revamps the way you, the player, stay out of sight. The old way was strictly a system of shadows whereby Sam would be out of sight if he was completely in the dark. But the new way combines the previous method with the aforementioned colour-coded circle. If you are completely hidden or in a dark area, the meter will display green; if you're in a visible spot, it will show yellow, and once you're detected by an enemy, the meter will blink red.
The other upgrade comes in the way Sam handles actions. Past titles would display a context-sensitive menu in the upper-left corner of the screen whenever you reached a point of action. This still applies but the presentation has been upgraded. For example, when opening a door, an action icon with a small door icon will pop up in the middle of the screen. You can then scroll through the available options and confirm your choice with the A button. For instance, when confronted with a closed door, you can pick the lock, open it normally, open it quietly, bash the door in or use your fibre optics to peer under the doorway. Choosing weapons and gadgets from your inventory also works the same wayholding the RB button and scrolling left to right chooses a gun/gadget, while Sam's trusty SC-20K attachments can be selected by scrolling up or down.
Sneak, Rattle, and Roll
If you're hoping for a groundbreaking new experience in Splinter Cell Double Agent, you might be a little put off. This game sticks very closely to the same type of stealth gameplay that made the series so popular. As usual, you'll need to keep Sam out of sight all the time; there's really no other way to play it. The run and gun option, which worked at times during the first three games, isn't really plausible in Double Agent.
The AI has also gotten smarter to the point that if you are caught out in the open, you're as hosed as Brittney's post K-Fed career. Sure, you can try to forgo the use of cover and concealment but bloody wounds and humiliation will be your only reward. Sticking to the dark, hiding behind objects, inside lockers, under tables and remaining out of sight is the only way you're going to get through the game with a decent rating, which makes sense given the game's history but I would have liked the option to go Rambo every now and again.
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