The Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell series is probably one of the best stealth based shooters ever made. The games revolve around Sam Fisher being a bad ass, saving the world from itself time and time again. Fisher spends his time either ghosting through complexes or mercilessly slaughtering any hapless guard he encounters.
There may be spoilers, but the series has been around a while now so…
The series encourages players to explore the area in order to find the quietest route through. This is especially prevalent in the early parts of the series when the combat mechanics aren’t the easiest to use. It’s easier to avoid fighting completely and way more satisfying. The sense of accomplishment when you manage to navigate an area undetected is fantastic! Blacklist has the greatest variety of play styles but rewards you most heavily for leaving enemies undisturbed.
Sam’s character development throughout the series is great to see. From a little unorthodox in Splinter Cell to a complete disregard for the rules in Blacklist. The real tipping point comes at the start of Double Agent, the black sheep of the series. Sam’s daughter, Sarah, gets killed and Sam doesn’t take it well at all. He goes a little off the deep end. He then gets asked to go deep undercover within a terrorist organisation. This leads Sam into some sticky situations where you get to make some very sketchy calls. After the events of Double Agent, Fisher goes off grid and disappears, before Grimsdottir finds him and tells him that Sarah isn’t really dead. Sam’s mental state is reflected quite well by the fact that in Conviction you kill EVERYONE. There’s no non-lethal options, which in a series about sneaking about and being a ghost shows they were willing to take some serious risks.
The Splinter Cell series isn’t just home to the best stealth/shooter mechanics, but also to the wonderful voice of Michael Ironside. Ironside lent Fisher his gruff and grizzled voice for all but the last in the series. Eric Johnson did a great job but didn’t quite manage to fill Ironside’s boots. Blacklist is great for its gameplay but it wasn’t quite the same without the gravelly tones of Ironside. He made whispered threats sound terrifying and forceful in the best way.
Without the Splinter Cell games, Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six wouldn’t have become the games they are today. They helped pave the way, developing the cover mechanics and the third-person shooter style into what it is. The Division wouldn’t be half the game it is without the Splinter Cells before it. Sure they’re all titles from the mighty Tom Clancy umbrella, but they owe their success to the Splinter Cell series.
Given how the last game ends, Blacklist, it’d be very hard to continue the series. Sam retires after a very tumultuous career and finally rebuilds his relationship with his daughter. The loss of Michael Ironside was evident and the influence he had would be hard to replace. Not only that but the side characters introduced in Blacklist weren’t all that well received.
Creating a new Splinter Cell would be a huge challenge without Tom Clancy’s input or Ironside’s iconic voice, but if they could do it, it would be worth it. These games defined stealth shooters in a way Metal Gear couldn’t. They didn’t rely on complex and ridiculous storylines in order to be endearing. That’s possibly their most memorable feature. Their stories. They were realistic enough to be possible, but outlandish enough to be entertaining and keep you interested. We don’t play games for their 100% realism after all.
A new Splinter Cell is probably never going to happen and it doesn’t need to, but it would be great if it did. Every great series is getting remastered nowadays; Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy and Bioshock to name just a few. Why not this one? Maybe we don’t need a new one, but it definitely deserves remastering.