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Splinter Cell Double Agent

At the end of last year we told you how Sam Fisher had agreed to undertake a dangerous undercover mission following the shocking death of his daughter to a drunken driver.

How he had to get himself arrested and thrown into a top security prison so that he could meet and gain the trust of terrorist Jamie Washington, then escape with him and gain access to his group.

This month, we got to play the PS2 version of the game. The game actually begins with Sam in Iceland, carrying out the sort of mission that will be familiar to any Splinter Cell fan.

The only difference is, he's undertaking it with another agent. Double Agent includes several levels like this where Sam works with other characters, using the moves invented for the co-op mode in Chaos Theory, such as giving one another a leg up and one agent throwing another across a gap.

Halfway through the mission, though, Sam in contacted by Lambert and told to abort the mission and return to HQ immediately. Once there, the news is broken to Sam of his daughter's death.

The introduction is typical of the interactive cinematics that run throughout the game. The cutscene that follows shows Sam breaking down and throwing his trademark night vision goggles out of a helicopter. The next thing you know, he's being led into a 'correctional facility' with a shaved head and prison overalls replacing his usual stealth suit.

It all serves to show that Sam is changing, and Ubisoft is changing the way you'll play this latest instalment of Splinter Cell. For the past three games, Sam's relied on trusted tactics to get him out of sticky situations, but now he's going back to basics - and gadgets are out.

After the action-packed prison break-out level - all around you prisoners are kicking down doors and fighting prison guards - is the first of several HQ levels.

Back in Washington's gang headquarters you are given objectives by Lambert, like gathering the fingerprints of the gang members. Sneaking around in a balaclava, being spotted sets off a dreaded alarm and ups the security on the level. Fortunately, you can decrease the alert level by taking a terrorist hostage and walking him to an intercom to insist everything is fine.

If you're caught, the game goes into an 'arrest mode'. Sam holds his hands above his head and as the gang members get closer to find out who he is, a sequence of button-presses comes up on the screen. Hit them fast enough and Sam will grab their gun and turn it on them.

The developer says that Sam is 'not a puppet anymore'. So no more unquestioningly following Lambert's orders to the letter. Now Sam is more reckless and more unpredictable. We like the sound of that.

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