The sneaky history of stealth games

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell series – 2002-2006
Think Metal Gear but way more realistic. As badass undercover agent Sam Fisher - voiced by the equally badass Michael Ironside - you lurk in the shadows, gather intelligence and eliminate terrorists. Enemy alerts or deaths even result in an incredible difficulty spike. The second game Pandora Tomorrow introduced the awesome multiplayer mode where two spies take on two soldiers.

The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind and Oblivion – 2002-2006
The giant open-ended adventure RPG pretty much lets you do whatever you want when completing your missions. Parts III and IV - Morrowind and Oblivion respectively - introduced playing as thieves and rogues.

Sly Cooper series – 2002-2005
Sly is a cel-shaded stealth platformer for the PS2. As a thief, you sneak around towns and taking part in heists. Because you’re a raccoon with little endurance, you try to avoid combat as much as possible.

Beyond Good & Evil – 2003
One of the most endearing aspects of this charming adventure is that while you do have natural ass-kicking skills, you must rely on your sneaking techniques and photojournalist skills in order to uncover a sinister plot.

Manhunt series – 2003, 2007
Think Running Man meets snuff films. Built on the GTA engine, you play as a deranged killer taking refuge in the shadows. Did we mention you’re encouraged to brutally murder your pursuers with deadly objects like plastic bags and scythes?

Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness – 2003
The sixth game in the TR series and first on the PS2 enabled you to do some sneaking about. Largely forgettable because of how crappy it was.

Hulk – 2003
In between the awesome smash-everything-that-moves levels, you’ll also play as alter-ego Bruce Banner in some slow-ass stealth levels.

Rogue Ops – 2003
Think Metal Gear and Splinter Cell, but with a female lead. Now think that this game isn’t all that good.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – 2004
This sequel utilized gameplay introduced in the original Manhunt - released a year prior. One mission had us swimming toward a tanker while avoiding spotlights. Another mission tasked you with utilizing shadows to your advantage to pull off a skilled assassination. Gangsta!

Far Cry series – 2004-2008
Two completely different games share many of the same elements. In part one, you need to navigate a wide-open island stronghold while engaging the almost superhuman AI enemies any way you want. Part two is similar, but switch island for African savanna.

Psi-Ops – 2004
Think straight-forward shooter but with Force powers. Okay, “psychic powers.” You can use these powers to progress through the game. For example, Remote Viewing enables you to have an out-of-body experience and see where enemies are. Our favorite is Mind Control where you can make bad guys kill themselves.

Siren series – 2004-2008
Siren mixes action, stealth and survival horror in order to survive attack from the aggressive Shibito (think zombies). Depending on the character you play as in any given segment, you’ll need to rely on hiding and sight jacking (seeing with the Shibito’s eyes) for safe passage.

Second Sight – 2004
Powers you earn in this thriller such as Psi Pulse (lightning melee attack) or Possession enable you to take out enemies without causing alarm.

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  • paulo-junior - January 9, 2012 3:48 p.m.

    Great list. Only it missed Shadow of Rome.
  • crazyqazqaz - February 7, 2009 4:50 p.m.

    Oh come on!! All Ghillied Up in CoD 4 was amazing! I've played that level at least 20 times!!
  • deathrebellion - February 5, 2009 10:18 p.m.

    Awesome list though U did include useless titles
  • TastyCakesMcgee - February 5, 2009 3:36 a.m.

    TF2 forever!
  • game_over - February 4, 2009 10:57 p.m.

    GoldenEye64 has co-op? Yes.
  • noobeater - February 4, 2009 10:16 p.m.

    great article....i really want to play shadow of collosus or watevere its called since i began looking at this mighty website anyway one you missed was SOCOM:us navy seals...i only played first one but get on ship...shoot out lights...silently knife people...every gun having a silencer getting intel or hostages means getting there quietly or the run/get destroyed/killed also in prison lvl u can make an diversion by setting a bomb at the wall and then running to the prison add it...i wanna be a part of it lol great article all the same most of these games=legends in their own right
  • Jbo87 - February 4, 2009 6:09 p.m.

    I really enjoyed Sniper Elite. As mentioned pulling off a brilliant shot was ultra satisfying and if you could time your shot to an artillery blast then the other enemies wouldn't hear it, hard to do but it felt like a real achievement. It also had a coop mode which worked really well. Getting both players into good positions and picking off guards at the smae time was quality. Definitely a game that could do with a sequel. Next-gen sniping, with explosive headshots would be awesome.
  • game_over - February 4, 2009 6:09 p.m.

    Goldeneye64; Has anyone else, ever, played the co-op mode that was built into the game?
  • aequitas13 - February 4, 2009 2:04 p.m.

    Going through the list again... In addition to Thief, kudos for NOLF, Riddick, SotC, RE4, Bioshock, and Commandos (should read 1998 - love for Commandos 2 or 3?)
  • Sash - February 4, 2009 1:43 p.m.

    Wow, its either very good or very sad that I have played ALL of these games o.o
  • GreyGhost - February 4, 2009 1:31 p.m.

    Good list but ... You forgot Stolen for the PS2 ... Fun game ...
  • averagejoe - February 4, 2009 3:47 a.m.

    Didn't Eternal Darkness have an invisibility spell? And I seem to remember some sneaking about in Chrono Trigger (the prison) and certainly there are stealth elements in Mirror's Edge. Heck, Mario 64 even had stealth to some degree: he could sneak up on sleeping piranha plants or turn invisible to evade enemies with the vanish cap. So..... there!
  • AMayer - February 4, 2009 3:16 a.m.

    I remember I used to play GoldenEye for so long that shotting people in the back of the noggin became second nature.
  • game-thugsta - February 4, 2009 1:34 a.m.

    Snake is and always will be the king of stealth... and in general the best video game character ever.
  • Red - February 4, 2009 1:11 a.m.

    If I had to pick two things that I absolutely hate about games, it would be mandatory stealth sections and mandatory protect the NPC missions. Games that force you to stay hidden AND keep your companions alive/hidden are the wosrt of all. There's almost nothing more irritating than being almost finished with a mission/level only to turn around and find your dumbass companion standing out in the open. MISSION FAILED.
  • cart00n - February 4, 2009 12:47 a.m.

    Not usually a big fan of "stealth games" - there are far too many other, cheaper ways to aggravate myself! However, BG&E was awesome. Assassins' Creed was a whole lot of fun, too.
  • Montag - February 4, 2009 12:39 a.m.

    No System Shock 2? Good call on Deus Ex tho..... Stealth if you like, not because you have to... nice
  • WaldoOfWhere - February 4, 2009 12:22 a.m.

    OMG What About Rainbow Six Vegas or did I miss IT.
  • AnonymouZ - February 3, 2009 11:12 p.m.

    gigglesnort* sneakily
  • rocketfuel - February 3, 2009 10:16 p.m.

    Another game I know is missing from that list is Shadow of Rome. When you took a break from chopping off limbs you'd play as octavian and sneak around hiding from Roman soldiers or killing them and stealing their outfits but otherwise great list. I'm a huge fan of bethesda and the stealth in their games.