Stealth Genre History
The first stealth game was the 1980’s classic, Pac Man. Why? Because Pac Man had to be on the look out for the ghosts who were chasing him. It infused the fact that he had to run away from the enemies rather than facing them head on. This is more than likely the birth of stealth video games that became increasingly popular during the mid 80’s. Castle Wolfenstein, released on the Apple II in 1981, is another early stealth style game since you must plan your escape without being seen.
The most known example is Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear, which was first released on the MSX in 1987 and came to the NES in ’88. It had the prime examples of stealth elements, since you played a secret agent character named Solid Snake. It also included action game play elements once he is caught, since you must either shoot at his enemies or find a hiding spot. The genre is still going strong with many new titles filling the gap that action games have.
Metal Gear Solid (Playstation, 1998)
Metal Gear Solid was the sequel to Metal Gear 2, and was an instant hit- selling 6 million copies worldwide. It received A+ reviews and was widely considered the pinnacle in graphics, plot, and general gameplay for the stealth genre as a whole. It truly rocked the gaming world. This game has received so much praise that it has spawned into many sequels which are equally as thrilling- especially Metal Gear Solid 3 and 4. These two titles have deep themes and an appealing outlook without taking it too intensely.
In the first game you play as Solid Snake, a secret agent who has had special military training. You must infiltrate a secret Alaskan base and destroy the newly made Metal Gear before it launches a nuclear strike on America. The game features realistic political themes and mixes it with an action packed plot which can be compared to a spy thriller film.
Perfect Dark (N64, 2000)
Taking elements from Rare’s successful Goldeneye game, Perfect Dark is set in 2023 and features a young woman named Joanna Dark. Joanna works for the Carrington Institute as a spy and sets off on numerous stealth missions. This is a first person shooter that also adds stealth game play into the mix. Your mission score lessens depending on how many people you shoot. Some mission objectives are to not be seen in certain facilities and add a fair amount of difficulty to the game.
What’s more, Perfect Dark has an odd sense of humor which is seen once Joanna encounters a little grey alien named Elvis in Area 51. This may take away some of the futuristic realism the game has had in the beginning and has baffled many players. The game has a complete 180 where Joanna is on a foreign planet with the alien life forms called Skedars, which seems a bit bizarre. Although its silly, the game itself had awesome graphics for its time and first person game play to die for.
Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven (Playstation 2, 2003)
There have been many Tenchu games including Tenchu: Dark Secret and Shadow Assassins. Wrath of Heaven continues the story with Rikimaru trying to escape Mei Oh’s fortress. The game adds ninja stealth maneuvers and fast sword slashes. You can play as two other characters, Tesshu and Ayame who have different stealth tactics than Rikimaru. You earn the title of grand master depending on how stealthy you as you complete each mission, which can make the game have its fair share of difficulty and suspense. You must duck and hide behind walls in order not to be seen and also has a map showing where the enemies lurk. This makes the game similar to Metal Gear Solid but in a feudal Japan setting.
Assassin’s Creed II (Playstation 3, Xbox 360, 2009)
While the first Assassin’s Creed was a test game for Ubisoft, the second game is a work of art and a masterpiece when it comes to open world gaming. You mainly play as Ezio Auditore, a young Florentine in Renaissance Italy, who witnesses his father’s and brothers’ murder in a huge conspiracy plot. He hunts out those all who were involved which finally leads him to track down the Borgia family.
There are two ways to play this game, you can either be the ultimate sneaky assassin, or just go around killing every guard you see. With this much flexibility, it makes the Assassin’s Creed one of the most admired and top selling games in general.
What’s to Come
Hopefully stealth video games will keep coming along, especially certain franchises like Asssassin’s Creed and Metal Gear Solid, which have been very consistent when it comes to providing an excellent plot and stealth game play. If any new titles arise with the stealth element, they have a lot to compete with since the niche is so tightly bundled with a few star rated games.