There's plenty of lasting value here thanks to lots of cooperative missions and various multiplayer modes.
The Xbox 360 version of Double Agent slightly strayed from the Splinter Cell norm by featuring a variety of daytime missions, as well as timed missions in the terrorist base. On the Xbox and PS2, the levels are conventionally dark like in past Splinter Cell games, and the timed missions aren't there. That means, since the trust system isn't really that big of a change, fans of Chaos Theory's campaign can expect more of the same this time around. However, the more-engaging storyline helps make this particular campaign better than that of the previous Splinter Cell titles. Like the previous games, expect to put in a good 10 hours or so before you reach Double Agent's dramatic conclusion, which will be affected by some of the key choices you make.
If you've had your fill of the solo missions, Splinter Cell Double Agent offers a complete set of two-player cooperative missions as well as plenty of competitive multiplayer modes to keep you busy for much longer. The co-op missions in these versions of the game hark back to the compelling but underdeveloped co-op gameplay introduced in Chaos Theory, whereas on the Xbox 360, the co-op missions are just a multiplayer variant against computer-controlled opponents. This means you'll undertake story-driven missions from the perspective of other agents in the employ of Third Echelon, the same organization that pays Fisher's bills. These missions tend to be loosely related to the solo campaign, which makes them add an interesting layer to the story.
What's more, you and your partner will get to use a variety of double-team moves, like using one another as a human ladder. Some cool new co-op moves are in here, such as the ability to cooperatively interrogate foes for when a little intimidation is not enough. The co-op missions still feel rough around the edges, as it's possible for both players to instantly fail if just one player makes a wrong step off a ledge, for instance. But this mode can still be a lot of fun, and it's also worth noting that there are nearly four times more co-op missions here as were bundled with Chaos Theory. Split-screen co-op play is available on both the Xbox and PS2, but only the Xbox version features cooperative play online--another reason why the Xbox version is definitely the one to get if you have the choice.
The competitive multiplayer mode in the Xbox and PS2 versions of Double Agent is a surprising departure from the innovative but rather complicated spies-versus-mercenaries mode introduced two years ago. Namely, it's not spies-versus-mercenaries anymore, but just spies-versus-spies in a battle between Third Echelon and a rival organization, Upsilon. This is inherently somewhat disappointing, since the way in which the previous games--and the Xbox 360 version of Double Agent--pitted fast-moving spies against heavily armed mercenaries was truly unique. For better or worse, the multiplayer now feels more familiar and faster paced. Though the spies play a lot like Fisher from the solo missions, they've got some of their own moves. And unlike the 360 version's multiplayer spies, these guys all pack assault rifles, so they can fight just fine. One particularly interesting twist to this new multiplayer game design is how close combat battles between spies are resolved. When one attacks another in close quarters, the first player to press a button that randomly appears onscreen instantly kills his opponent, turning close encounters into lightning-fast battles of reflexes (and, perhaps, Internet connection speeds).
Splinter Cell fans who've already played the Xbox 360 version of Double Agent should ideally give this version a shot, too.
Multiplayer is solid on both the Xbox and PS2, but it's easier to get into a match on Xbox Live, and the Xbox version supports six players in a match, while the PS2 version supports only four. To help make up for this, the PS2 version features a couple of exclusive multiplayer variants, though they're not so special that Xbox owners will miss them. Other than that, the multiplayer experience is similar in both versions. There are more than half a dozen multiplayer variants, in stark contrast to the one core multiplayer mode of the Xbox 360 version. These include your typical deathmatch and team deathmatch, as well as some capture-the-flag and king-of-the-hill-style options. A variety of densely packed maps are available as well, and the gunplay and acrobatics that typically unfolds in them can be pretty exciting. Even though it's not as original as the multiplayer modes from other Splinter Cell games, Double Agent's multiplayer is still distinctive and worth checking out.
It's a shame that the Xbox 360 version of Splinter Cell Double Agent, being the most high-tech, is liable to get most of the attention. That's not because the Xbox 360 version isn't the best overall, since it probably is. But there are a lot of legitimately different, legitimately interesting things about the older-console versions of this game, which Splinter Cell fans simply shouldn't miss out on. Double Agent on the older consoles has a lot of its own great missions, gameplay, and plot points that you won't get from the 360 version alone, and they retail for less. The Xbox version particularly stands out, thanks to its online co-op mode and relatively impressive graphics, but the PS2 version is no slouch, either. And if you do get a chance to experience both versions of Double Agent's story, in the end, it might make a strange kind of sense. There are two sides to every story, after all.