Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell


A genuine third-person sneaker.

Plenty of cool spy action here.

When the world’s going to hell you call in the best. Enter one Sam Fisher, formerly of the CIA and an ex-Navy SEAL, who joins a new sub-agency of the NSA called Third Echalon. He takes on a series of covert operations designed to gather intel and, occasionally, do some really nasty work. Though he’s on a ‘need to know’ basis, through his own investigation and cleverly tied in news footage, he uncovers a massive conspiracy.

To Catch A Spy

Such is the suitable mess of acronyms and shadowy factions of Splinter Cell. An excellent console port, this third-person spy game humbles challengers like Metal Gear Solid 2 with superior gameplay and graphics. For PC players it’s essentially Tom Clancy’s Thief: The Splinter Project, with the addition of a third perspective and a more advanced engine.

Splinter Cell is relentlessly linear and its levels painfully minced into bite-sized portions. You have but one path to take with a clear set of objectives to accomplish, with no possibility of deviation. While that’s usually a negative, the game compensates by giving you a wide array of tactics in how you bypass or neutralize enemies. The PC version of Splinter Cell lends itself even more to this than the checkpoint-based Xbox version, since here you can save anytime, try different approaches and quickload if you botch it up.

It starts off to a bumpy beginning, with a contrived tutorial that fills you in on stealth, combat and the works. Subsequent missions ratchet up the tension and prove slightly more logical. Plus there’s definitely something thrilling about sitting in the shadows while an armed soldier passes by completely unaware of you.

You can try sneaking past him, risking being caught. Or try shooting him, which may alert the guy unless you score a clear headshot. Or you could turn on your nightvision, sneak behind him and smack him upside the head. In other cases you have to grab people and interrogate them for useful info or even carry them around to use on retinal scanners.

25_1As with the basic stealth game, the trick is to stay hidden and sneak past without causing much of a commotion, or – when violence is the best option – to choose your armed encounters with care (usually sitting in the dark and taking out targets with your suppressed rifle is the best approach). A sleek assortment of spy gear will be at your disposal, including detachable cameras that you can fire from your rifle, or special rounds that incapacitates guards. There are few problems with Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, but once started, the tension never quite lets you go from playing.

System Requirements: P III 1 Ghz, 256 MB RAM, 1.5 GB HDD, 32 MB Video, Win98

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