It's not easy to be Sam Fisher, the National Security Agency's elite secret agent. Sure, he gets to jet around the world to fabulous destinations, but most of his time is spent skulking in the shadows, waiting for a guard to pass close enough so he can snap his neck, or crawling through ventilation shafts to infiltrate one top-secret facility or another. Of course, Sam's hardships are a gamer's treat because Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is a series that delivers excellent stealth action gameplay where you get to play as Fisher while he tries to save the free world again and again. With Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Sam arrives on the PlayStation 3 for the first time, and as you'd expect, this is a fine-looking game, though it's a paler imitation of the Xbox 360 version. Still, when it comes to delivering high-tech espionage and tense gameplay, it's definitely worth checking out.
Double Agent delivers Splinter Cell to the PlayStation 3 era with upgraded visuals and the series' signature stealth action gameplay.
The fourth chapter in the Splinter Cell series gets its name from the fact that Sam Fisher has to serve two masters this time around. There's the NSA, his nominal employer, and a rogue militant group called John Brown's Army, which he has to infiltrate by posing as a recruit. This is a task made easier as Sam links up with the JBA while serving in prison for crimes that he most certainly did commit. But as intriguing as this premise is, it quickly becomes an afterthought because he'll soon be sent around the world to capture a supertanker trapped in the arctic ice, rappel down the side of a Shanghai skyscraper, and sweat under a hot African sun in the midst of a war-torn city in pursuit of your many objectives. Again, Sam must make like a modern, high-tech ninja armed with an incredible arsenal of moves--such as dangling upside down on a line and plucking a passing guard by the neck--and with the latest weapons and equipment.
If you've played any of the Splinter Cell games prior to Double Agent, you'll quickly find yourself at home with the new game because the basic moves and strategies remain the same. Where Ubisoft changes things up a bit is in the way the story unfolds; Sam often has two competing priorities demanding his attention. There are the tasks that the JBA wants him to do, while he also has to keep the NSA happy. This is indicated by a trust meter at the bottom of the screen. If Sam fails an objective for one group, the respective trust meter falls accordingly. Often it's possible to keep both groups happy. For instance, in one mission, Sam has to knock out a radio antenna for the JBA, but before you do so, you can use it to transmit a message to the NSA. On rarer occasions, the game tries to present a moral conundrum by giving you competing objectives. An example of this is when you're told by the JBA to execute a civilian prisoner. Doing so would put you in the JBA's good graces, but it would also make you a bit unpopular with the NSA. Still, it's easy to make up with one side or another by accomplishing many of the secondary objectives in the game.
Sam will go from the dizzying heights of a Chinese skyscraper to the frigid depths of the arctic.
You score higher if you can get through a level without ever being detected or raising an alarm, though much of the time, you can play aggressively and take out guards somewhat brazenly. And in a game like Double Agent, it's hard to resist the aggressive route because being able to sneak around in the darkness and whack people like an assassin is so much fun. You can whip out the silenced pistol or advanced rifle that Sam carries, snap necks, use the knife in creative ways, and more. One of the coolest kill moves involves swimming underneath arctic ice, coming up below a guard atop the ice, shattering the ice to plunge the guard into the water, and then smoothly stabbing the guard in the heart. It's such an awesome sight that it never gets old.