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Meanwhile, the mercs get upgraded with a drone assistant to watch their backs. The claustrophobic atmosphere to the face-offs is still strong and, while both sides have advantages, you'll still feel vulnerable whether you're a shadow-hugging spy or a gun-toting mercenary. The new features simply enhance the experience, giving the mercs more firepower but the spies better dodging and sneaking skills.
Team-work is vital for Splinter Cell's multiplayer, especially with such small teams, and you're helped by a new and fully 3D map that shows where your buddies are in each level. This makes a merc's life easier as you can better co-ordinate your actions, but it also enables the spy players to keep an eye on where their buddies are in the darkness.
Above: The spy has no ranged weapons - all the killing is done by hand
After a few matches, we're confident that the spy-vs-merc setup remains one of Splinter Cell's best features. It is disappointing that there have been no great advances - some radically new objectives would be nice, or fresh weaponry/gadgets - but Double Agent's multiplayer is still an outstanding and brilliantly different experience. We'll have the game reviewed and rated soon.