Has Sam Fisher discovered the fountain of youth?

Watch the video from Splinter Cell Blacklist, below. Now, tell us: how old do you think Sam Fisher is? 35? 40? He’s got some moves, right? Well, according to Splinter Cell’s persistent timeline, Sam is actually 56 this year (he was born in 1957 in Towson, Maryland fact fans). Uh, hang on a minute – that’s the same age as Timothy Spall (Wormtail in the Harry Potter films, amongst other more prestigious works) and Larry Bird. Now, we’re pretty sure Larry Bird – an Olympic Gold medal winning athlete – couldn’t murder an entire camp full of soldiers with a karambit today, even if he has been taking his cod liver oil supplements…

Yet there goes Fisher, running through the camp like a dose of head-lice at a child’s birthday party. So, ahem, the only possible conclusion we can draw is that the sneaky old Third, sorry Fourth, Echelon spy has discovered the fountain of youth. It’s the only way to explain his dramatic de-aging. However, as you’ll discover throughout the rest of this feature, Fisher is very selective about who he does and doesn’t share it with…

Now, a little disclaimer. We’re only poking fun at Splinter Cell. We love the series dearly (this writer thinks that the Spies vs Mercs mode from Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory – which is making a comeback in Blacklist – is one of the best multiplayer experiences ever created) and we’ve got plenty of great coverage coming your way very soon.

However, we do find it strange that Ubisoft hasn’t committed to fully rebooting the series with Blacklist. Painful as it is, we have to accept that Michael Ironside – who voices Fisher in all previous games – is out. We’ll miss his gruff tones. Ironside is gone for two, official reasons. 1) Ubisoft do their motion and voice capture at the same time now (we’ve seen how they created Far Cry 3’s Vaas – it’s incredible tech), and Ironside simply isn’t up to such physical work. 2) Having the seasoned voice of Ironside dubbed over a much younger mo-capped actor would be ridiculous.

Love him or hate him – the new Fisher makes sense in his own context. However, whereas we’ve recently seen Square Enix reboot the Tomb Raider franchise by showing us Lara’s formative years, the new Splinter Cell takes place in 2014 – chronologically after all the other games. Yet Fisher is looking younger. Check him out here.

Not bad for a 56 year old, right? He’s been supping at that fountain of youth ever since the original game. In the first Splinter Cell (2002), Sam was a youngster at 45. He creaked a bit during split-jumps, but managed to save the world comfortably enough. When he returned in Pandora Tomorrow (2004), Fisher had discovered the ability to pull off SWAT turns and half-split jumps – physically demanding techniques, but nothing too major for a man of 47. Chaos Theory (2005) brought brutal close-quarters knife work, and the ability to kill people while hanging upside down. Still, not implausible for a man pushing 49, but you’d think he’d have more moves in his younger days, right?

When Double Agent (2006) arrived, Fisher should have been slowing down – and for the first time in his life we think he did. When he finally ‘ends the career’ of his close friend Irving Lambert at the conclusion of Double Agent, he looks every minute of his 49 years . However, a few years in the wilderness supping from the fountain of youth saw him make a very sprightly comeback in Conviction (2010) where he’d learned all kinds of aggressive stealth techniques.

We can’t help but think poor Lambert might have been saved – or at least been able to save himself – if Fisher hadn’t been greedily keeping the fountain of youth to himself. Lambert is 41 in the first Splinter Cell (born in 1961), and 45 in Double Agent, yet the stress of managing someone as energetic and aggressive as Fisher has clearly taken its toll – even over a four year period. Technically, Lambert is younger than Fisher…

Ouch. However, if we dig deeper into the characters from the Splinter Cell universe it becomes clear that there’s more going on between Fisher and his tech support worker Anna Grimmsdottir (born in 1974) than meets the eye. She’s clearly been slamming back Fisher’s special water, and it seems likely that she’s been spending company funds on all kinds of cosmetic treatments from hair colouring to breast implants. Take a look at the image here that compares the Pandora Tomorrow Grim with the Blacklist Grim.

In his relatively short video game history, Sam Fisher has changed dramatically. Look, we know that it’s tough to maintain a believable character when technology constantly updates, allowing more and more spectacular moves and set-pieces, but it’s something many others have dealt with in a believable way. Blacklist was an ideal opportunity for Fisher to pass the spy torch to a younger model – especially as he’ll look and sound different with Ironside gone.

However, as that isn’t happening, we’ll just quietly conclude that Sam has indeed discovered the font of anti-aging, and look forward to seeing a teenage ‘dude’ version of Fisher kicking ass and reversing awkwardly through puberty on PS5 and Xbox 4, some time in 2020.

Andy Hartup