Y'know, we've never really liked the Splinter Cell series all that much. There's just something about playing the role of a government spook working for the CIA, the NSA or whatever that rubbed us the wrong way.
But we're professionals, so when the boss asked us to play Splinter Cell Double Agent, we begrudgingly agreed. After all, we were starting to get used to being a tool of the Man (just kidding).
When we fired up Double Agent, however, it didn't take very long for this gem to surprise us with its maturity and addictively tense gameplay. Lead scary guy Sam Fisher begins the game up to his old tricks of sneaking around and knifing oblivious thugs in the neck, but it doesn't take long for things to get more complicated.
When Sam learns of the death of his daughter, he breaks and loses the will to serve his country and, possibly, to live as well. That tragic event sends Sam into a spiral of depression and self-destructive behavior that culminates in him becoming a double agent in a dangerous terrorist organization.
Sam's gloomy mood colors the entire game and adds depth to the storyline. Superb voice acting from Michael Ironside brings a new dimension to Sam Fisher and provides an emotional backdrop for the disturbing events in the game. And believe us, there are many disturbing events in the this game.
The tension never lets up as Sam plays both sides of the fence. Rarely do you get the "fifth freedom" that enables you to slay fools with immunity, so most of the enemies you come across must be dealt with using non-lethal means. This means that Sam (and you) never gets to relax as foes could suddenly come to and ruin your carefully laid, stealthy plans.
Above: He might have a new haircut but Sam's still got the split-legged magic.
Veterans of Splinter Cell Chaos Theory may be disappointed with Double Agent's multiplayer. Yet, while some may call this game stripped down, we thought the lack of gadgets streamlined the multiplayer experience and sped up matches online. Robbed of these complications, we found the multiplayer to be frantic and fun. Ubisoft was obviously hoping to expand Splinter Cell's appeal, and we must admit they succeeded in hooking us (and we imagine those unfamiliar with Chaos Theory won't notice the missing bits).
We loved both the single and multiplayer versions of Splinter Cell Double Agent, so we have no issue recommending it to any 360 owner looking for some stealthy action.