I stopped following the Splinter Cell series shortly after Double Agent was announced, because I was convinced that with this new entry, Sam Fisher will join the Ghosts and Rainbow in becoming a completely different beast than what it started out.
After getting a chance to play through a bit of Double Agent, I was bloody right, too.
If Ubisoft had wanted so badly to make a game about double agents, then they could have done so without involving this series. Obviously, this means that Ubisoft felt Splinter Cell needed changing. In conclusion (surprise!), Ubisoft are consisted of ass and byproduct.
Really now. Splinter Cell was the only game series that had done pure stealth remotely well for a good while now. But like how Snake Eater was the peak of Metal Gear Solid, Chaos Theory was the peak of Splinter Cell.
Oh sure, one might say you still sneak around and try to persuade the local guard to look away (with say, a whistle, or a fist) long enough for you to do your thing. The change is in the presentation – there’s just none of that technological spy-wizardry. Hell, forget what I said earlier, there’s no real sneaking, even; it’s no longer about pressing yourself as deep into the shadows as possible, it’s about staying out of the fixed view radius of patrolling drones with less humanism than the computer they guard.
Splinter Cell was the Deus Ex, or Thief, kind of sneaker – the shadow is your ally, because God help you, nothing else on the field is. Beyond all else, the most disappointing aspect of Double Agent was losing this mood, which was so very strong in Chaos Theory. The gameplay mechanics haven’t changed very much, but it doesn’t feel right to use those mechanics anymore.
And let’s not even mention how they took out the full light meter, simplifying to three-colour states. What the fsck.
So, with Splinter Cell succumbed to Ubisoft’s clutches, and Guns of the Patriots ending Metal Gear Solid (though to be fair, the game always seems less about full sneaking then “full sneaking until you get to the point where shooting it out doesn’t matter anymore”), I guess we can bid adieu to pure stealth games for a while.