Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent Reviews

  • Wull ScottWull Scott482,575
    20 Jun 2011
    15 1 3
    I don't know why, but I am a huge fan of the Tom Clancy games on console – not so much on the PC - but the Ghost Recons, Rainbow Sixes and Splinter Cells really do it for me, no matter how hard or frustrating or contrived they are. Love them. But right now, we're focussing on the stealth baby. Unusual in that it is the only non-squad based game and actually has characters with personalities, due mostly to the superb voice work of all involved, but especially Michael Ironside (Sam Fisher) and Don Jordan (Irving Lambert) who from the first game have provided what felt like a properly believable long standing relationship that has stood up through all the games and becomes very important especially in the closing level of this game. While I'm pretty sure they've probably never met and do all their work in separate booths on different days, the two actors have fantastic chemistry that really adds the winning edge to the series.

    The main difference here is that this time around, Sam Fisher has decided to take on the most dangerous mission he can following the death of his daughter. This mission is presumably so dangerous because Sam's history appears to be military in nature with the emphasis on wetwork and action, rather than undercover infiltration. We'll ignore that tiny logic jump. So he gets planted in prison (with his OPSAT on his wrist and concealment indicator strapped to his back (Ignore the logic jump!)) in order to meet up with a domestic terrorist leader whom he befriends to infiltrate the group. Following this, he performs missions for the terrorist group JBA (John Brown's Army) and the NSA (armed with his specially modified secret service SC2K rifle (Logic jump - ignore!) and his FN 5.7mm pistol (not an entirely common weapon, by the way…).

    Ignoring what amounts to a massive leap in logic (I said I loved them no matter how contrived!), the game boils down to the same mission structure as before with "interval" levels where you have 30 minutes in the JBA base to perform a set amount of tasks - for example, you will be told by the JBA guy to complete an obstacle course and practice on the firing range, while Lambert will tell you to bug their antennae. This adds some superb tension as Sam won't run in the base. No doubt some people will hate these levels as they break up the action, but when viewed as an espionage thriller with the levels acting as the action set-pieces, I feel that the pace is tremendous.

    The mechanic that doesn't really work too well is the "trust" system whereby certain acts will raise or lower your trust level with either the JBA or NSA. As I am a bit of a completist, I will do every side mission offered by a game, so this mechanic made no difference to me. I imagine that if you don't maintain trust with both parties, you will be railroaded into certain decisions in order to keep playing as there are points where you are given two conflicting objectives – for example, the NSA say don't kill a hostage, while the JBA put the gun in your hand and tell you to do it. While this particular act doesn't have far reaching consequences, later in the game they become more important. My problem with this is that if your trust drops, you simply get a scrolling message that says "We don't trust you any more. Game over." or something similar. It doesn't seem like enough of a consequence, is all.

    Another minor annoyance for me is how I could imagine the developers saying "How can we shake up the game? People buy it for the sneaking around the dark, so we need to shake it up a bit". No, no you don't. Most people like the night time sneakiness, so the day-time snow level (the weakest in my eyes, especially as Sam is bizarrely wearing his super hi-tech suit – and also the only mission in any of the games that I haven't got 100% stealth in!) and the glary African war zone (where your vision enhancer is actually a pair of sunglasses) seem a little out of place.

    Other than this, though the game is mostly identical to the previous game in the series, Chaos Theory (which had only moved on a little from Pandora Tomorrow), and seems to use an awful lot of that game's animation, but with nice crisp textures layer over them. No complaints there. The graphics are superb – I especially like the unevenly shaved heads of the characters that do look realistically buzz-cut. Even a couple of years on, the graphics still really stand up to scrutiny. Although it has been there since Chaos Theory, I still love the way that Sam moves his body weight away from an enemy when he's sneaking, it really make the game more believable and tense. To optimise the movie style of the game, the HUD has been mostly scrapped and you need to rely on the previously mentioned concealment indicator strapped to Sam's back. It seems a bit too simplistic with green for "safe", yellow for "not safe" and red for "you're getting shot". I still don't know if I'm entirely happy with the removal of the HUD, and would have liked the option to view it like previous games. But, I suppose it adds a little more tension.

    Speaking of tension, the music is better than ever. There way that the "proximity" music builds to a crescendo as you sneak up to an enemy is fantastic, if a little stressful. The way it cuts off suddenly when you grab or hit them is quite a relief as well as being stylistically awesome. You could possibly play the game without any visual clues as to how concealed you are as there are fantastic audio stings as you leave and enter darkness. One irritating sound feature is the lady on the menu screen. When you move to a menu item, she helpfully explains what each one means. Without her I would never have known that Play Single Player Game meant that I could "Play Sam Fisher's New Adventure!" I thought that maybe it would bake me a pie and eject it out the disk slot. Disappointment was avoided by menu lady.

    Best look at the negatives a little bit, I suppose… There are times when it seems impossible for enemies to see you, yet magically, they do. Worst for this is the aforementioned snow level (while it is not a slippy slidey snow level, I somehow STILL hate snow levels in games…), when you can't see the enemies through the snowstorm, but they can see you. It is something that has been there since the first game, so you should be used to it. There is the odd occasion that hitting someone triggers an alarm as well, even though they make no sound and no one is around to see you. On occasion, Sam has a relaxed attitude to picking up and dropping bodies, as the animation is so long that for both that you often left completely at an enemy's mercy while Sam gently lays down his dead foe. It is quite endearing in a way.

    For the most part, the weapons and gadgets in the game are superb. I love the fact that Sam is equipped with the only weapons he needs in his rifle and pistol and doesn't need to worry about finding one better than what he has. The kineticism that can sometimes be lost when using silenced weapons in games isn't a problem here due to the excellent feedback both in Sam's animation and in the vibration. If you're playing the game properly, however, you shouldn't ever need to fire a shot. The pistol even comes with a secondary fire mode that disables lights without breaking them. The sticky shockers are as non-lethal but essential as ever. But some of the new unlockable gadgets make it all a bit too easy, like the automatic lockpick and hacking tool, or even the colour night vision goggles.

    Now, the major problem. Anyone who loves Splinter Cell will already have bought and played the game (years ago, actually…), but it still bears mentioning that the control system is HIDEOUS. I spent the first three games playing with the horizontal controls inverted, apparently. I didn't know this, because it was the default control method. The new default control is what I would call inverted in that the right stick moves the camera left and right from Sam's point of view, rather than around him like a detached camera in the previous games. Easy enough to fix, yes? Change it in the options. Of course. In the previous games, the aiming mode wasn't affected by the inversion of the camera, but this one is, so the controls are always inverted mean that when you go into aiming mode, left moves right and vice versa. This boils down to having to learn how to play the game from scratch. To me, that was a MAJOR problem, but to be fair it was one that I overcame in about a week.

    I also have to say that the story slightly comes apart at the end, but that might be in order to allow the multiple endings... But nonetheless, the single player is a superb experience with a cracking story.

    The multiplayer is excellent as well, but I can't really base my review on it as it is so different from the Single Player as to be a completely different game. The dynamic of the First Person Shooter Upsilon guards and the free running third person Spies is superb and fairly well balanced, although any team that effectively communicates will destroy the competition. As it stands, the multiplayer for me is a welcome distraction, rather than a necessary component, so won't really affect the final score negatively.

    In summary this is an excellent continuation - and something of a subtle evolution - of a franchise, that leaves the way open for great things in the future. This is almost the perfect balance of change and familiarity.
    Showing all 3 comments.
    A F0XY GRANDPAi agree about the guns, you shouldn't really ever need to shoot someone. although sometimes i do just shoot people in the face if i get impatient. hehe, anways, good review.
    Posted by A F0XY GRANDPA on 23 Jun 11 at 03:05
    Wull ScottLOL! That's why they made Conviction the way they did - more opportunity for face shooting! And it was a cracking game as well...
    Posted by Wull Scott on 23 Jun 11 at 03:08
    DJ KOOLAIDEnice review i gave you a thumbs up
    Posted by DJ KOOLAIDE on 25 Jun 11 at 20:55
  • Removed Gamer
    Gamer has been removed
    22 11 6
    I feel compelled to write a REVIEW about Splinter Cell: Double Agent.

    Right out of the gate I must reveal that I loved all the previous installments of the franchise and can't wait for CONVICTION. If the reader finds me to be a bit of a SC Fanboy, so be it.

    The storyline in Double Agent is probably the best of all the SCs, but only by a slim margin. As usual, the emphasis is on the game play, which will prompt you to think as often as you act. You will probably reload and try again many times, but that's the nature of this trial-and-error style; some love it while others can't stand it. The less anal player won't be reloading checkpoints and save progress as often as the one who wants to complete the mission with every objective completed and a 100% stealth score. And that's half the fun of the game: choosing your plan of attack.

    In the end, I have to say that Splinter Cell: Double Agent is the deepest SC yet, but, not the best. Chaos Theory is, in my opinion, simply because there are a few too many problems here. The camera is nowhere near as good as it once was. For example: it has the annoying tendency to get much too close to Sam. There are some of those sound and visual inconsistencies, the AI goes a bit too far sometimes, and there are a few game play glitches. For example, we saw a guard stuck against a wall, walking quickly back and forth, and we've had a flashlight trained directly on us, but the guard freezes and does nothing.

    But on the other hand, if you like these types of games, it remains a blast to play. The good vastly out weighs the bad: it looks great, it sounds great, it controls great, the experience is solid, the depth is outstanding, the abilities, gadgets, and level design is stellar. In truth, it's a can't-miss for any Splinter Cell or stealth fan. This is Splinter Cell, no doubt about it, and Splinter Cell is always extraordinary.

    Bring on CONVICTION, I can't wait!

    EDIT: I made no mention of the MP because I never played the MP. I only played the single player campaign.
  • AJIHLEAJIHLEThis gamer has had their achievements removed from the site
    28 Mar 2010
    1 6 2
    The Splinter Cell series has always kicked butt and each game has gotten better in its way. Splinter Cell Double Agent has raisen Sam Fisher to a new level. The amazing campaign will make you think and open your eyes. The new "choose your side" gameplay is extraordinairy. Although there is no co-op campaign, the co-op challenges introduce a new teamwork / cooperation experience. Although the online could be improved, this game deserves 5 golden stars. Let's hope Conviction will be like DA but with co-op and an awesome online that makes you want to keep playing, unlike the COD online.
  • TheFuzzyWhaleTheFuzzyWhale604,896
    17 Sep 2014
    4 11 1
    oh no. its splinter cell: double agent [insert old horror movie suspense sound here]

    im a huge splinter cell fan. the stories are always fascinating. the gameplay is always unique. but this game is sooooooo bad its not even funny.

    now before you down thumb me read what I have to write first.

    the story was very bland and uninteresting. it feels like they just made it up on the spot so they would have an excuse to make another splinter cell game. the programming is done horribly and it honestly breaks the gameplay making some actions you try to perform a complete waste of time for example trying to grab someone from behind. and the hard difficulty is just crap the game gives you guns... but no ammo............ that's just wrong.

    ok this is where the games lack of design and programming really shows. the bots it pits you up against are AIMBOTS! they know where you are at all times and they run straight to where your at flawlessly and remain there until you accidentally show yourself. on top of all that the bots get an infinite supply of grenades. all of your gadgets are worthless against them as well. I was playing with a friend on one of the missions and I received an unpleasant headshot from across the map (to the point where I wasn't even visible to even pro gamers) while I was fast rolling. yeah not even old call of duty games have that bad of aimbots.

    theres an issue in this game mode that also shows in the co-op. the mercenaries have like 4 gadgets while the spies only get one. remember in the good old SC multiplayers the spies also have a gun but it could only paralyze enemies temporarily. yeah not in double agent. the spies have no weapons and the whole multiplayer is one-sided against the spies while the mercenaries have all the perks. the mercenaries have a melee attack that attacks in all directions called berserk (to me it just looks like they are having a temper tantrum)... they can use it an infinite amount of times and if your trying to grab them from behind your done for. they can even hit you with it while your in the middle of falling on top of them.

    I know I also have a review for ascend: hok being one of the worst games ever, but splinter cell double agent is easily the worst game I have ever played in my life. if I could rate it in the negatives I would have rated it -5
  • sadelacksadelack54,301
    04 May 2009 04 May 2009
    5 16 1
    i thought this was a horrible game that I really wanted to be good, based on the previous franchise installments.
    Bad points:
    --the camera bounces all over the place and hovers in strange locations.
    --the controls were awkward at times, and with the stealth requirements on hard difficulty, totally unacceptable. Yeah, you get used to it by the end of the game, but you're just getting used to a bad setup.
    --do not do what I did and play on hard the first time thru. Very frustrating because of the Chapelle-show GTA-like movements. it's so not fun, you'll put it on the shelf and play something that doesn't make you angry. and you wont come back.
    Boo, splinter cell. Boo.
    In fact, I'm going to boost for the remaining multiplayer cheeves, because i just want it to be over.
    I'm giving two instead of one star because the story line is very good. it wanted to be a good game, just fell way short in the technical department.