Sneaking for national security
Splinter Cell, developed by Ubisoft, is also a console game, but every PC port has been of consistently high quality that it is worth mentioning in this series. The Splinter Cell series follows the adventures of Sam Fisher, an NSA operative that flits about the world saving the world from certain destruction on a regular basis.
The stealth mechanics are similar to that of the Thief series, with Fisher mostly sticking to the shadows and taking care not to make too much noise during his missions. Fisher can’t carry much ammunition or shoot very accurately, making stealth a much easier alternative for completing your objectives. On the PC, you can use the mouse wheel to change how quickly you move, adding to the level of control you have over your character.
Much of Splinter Cell’s level design is highly linear, but the number of gadgets you have helps you to get around your enemies quietly. You can take out any light source with a well-placed bullet too, although it will cause enemies to get suspicious as to why it seems that all of their light sources seem to be going out of commission with such eerie regularity. Splinter Cell also makes use of multiple vision modes - infra red and night vision - to help you sneak through the dark while keeping an eye on your enemies.
There are also hacking and lockpicking minigames to make those usually mundane gaming activities more interesting. The plot of all the games is quite well-presented, with constant updates being fed to Fisher through his earpiece. It’s often possible to get through the levels without violence, adding to the no-impact spy feel of the game.
One major issue that the game has is linearity. There are generally only one or two routes through any particular level, making it disconcertingly similar to a conventional shooter with some sneaking elements. This limits the replayablity of the game, but makes it more accessible to people who might not otherwise have a lot of patience for exploring an entire level. The fact that it’s so easy for enemies to kill Fisher also makes it especially challenging on the highest difficulty level. You’ll need to move carefully in order to succeed.
There have been four entries into the series so far on the PC - Splinter Cell, Pandora Tomorrow, Chaos Theory and Double Agent. It’s generally understood that the first and third entries are the best that the series has offered. Pandora Tomorrow happens to be overly linear and Double Agent suffers from some rushed development, but it’s a fresh experience relative to the other games in the series.