Well it’s been quite a while since our last preview of this game, and since then there have been probably a dozen delays for the game. Hopefully all these delays mean the game will be worth waiting for. Now I would like to introduce you to the fourth game in one of the best selling series ever! Splinter Cell Double Agent! Every game has been tweaked somehow, so how is this one different from the rest? Just have a look at the title given to the game, Double Agent. That’s kind of a clue as to how the game is going to pan out. Well Ubisoft have announced some dramatic changes to the franchise, both to singleplayer and especially to the multiplayer side of things.
Firstly the entire story has changed, now Sam Fisher is suffering from extreme depression and cannot concentrate on his missions (why he is so depressed will be explained in the game and was partially hinted at in Splinter Cell Essentials). Lambert decided he is to infiltrate a terrorist group and Sam is then thrown into prison for staging multiple robberies. He is actually there to take down the terrorist organization the NSA had sent him to work on named John Brown’s Army. He befriends one of the members of this group Jamie Washington and ends up joining the group. Working for the bad guys means Fisher has to make many difficult decisions, as he has to fulfil his NSA mission but also keep his JBA cover. This gives the player the freedom to chose what to do in each mission. Do you kill an innocent or do you let him live and risk blowing your cover? If you help the NSA out you will get more high-tec equipment, such as Sam’s trusty goggles, but this may raise suspicion with the JBA. But if you help out the JBA then you can gain their trust more easily and find out more information about them.
One extreme twist in the game is that the storyline is based around the players actions through the game instead of being a load of missions ending up at one conclusion. Ubisoft have revealed that main characters in the game could die due to the decisions the player makes.
The game will also include interactive mission insertions such as parachute jumps to the mission point. There will also be directed moments, which are interactive cut-scenes similar to Tomb Raider Legends Also it will include underwater areas, which means for the first time, Sam Fisher will be able to swim. In these underwater levels, as well as sandstorm levels, Sam will be able to attack his enemies in many ingenious ways.
Double Agent also has extremely developed AI. This means if you shoot out a light, a guard will go over and replace the bulb. If you switch off a camera, they will go and switch it back on. This means that sneaking through would be extremely hard! TheAI also works with you, for example during the Prison Break, your companion from JBA does a good job helping you. He will cause distractions, attack guards and support you extremely well, as you sneak around getting the job done.
A disappointment though is that Double Agent has no HUD. Strange, you may think, but Ubisoft says it adds to the cinematic experience they are trying to create. Instead of a light detector bar, the lights on Sam’s suit will glow depending on the amount of light you are in. If you are hidden in darkness, then no lights will show. If you’re in broad daylight, the lights will be shining brightly. Luckily the ammo and health indicator isn’t totally gone, It only appears in extreme situations, such as in King Kong when the ammo counter flashes up briefly when you check.
For this instalment, Sam has quite a few moves, some classic and some new. Newer ones include punching through ice and grabbing a guard from below, pulling him in then stabbing him. Also you can destroy tanks by throwing a grenade into the hatch. You can lie prone under a car to hide in enemy territory. You can also corner grab which means grabbing an enemy from round a corner, throwing him to the floor and interrogating him or knocking him out etc. from there. A new feature when you have captured an enemy is the Hostage Mode. This means you can force an enemy to switch of an alarm and tell his comrades that it was a false alarm. This makes it a bit easier to sneak through a level.
As well as new moves, Sam has new gadgets to play with. Ubisoft have said that there will be a glass-cutting tool, a grapple and things like satellite support, GRAW style. He also gets his usual toys such as sticky shockers and airfoil rounds to fire at people’s foreheads. He luckily gets to keep his knife from Chaos Theory, which was extremely useful in sneaky situations, which will come in handy for the places you get to visit. Currently announced locations will include New York, Shanghai, Iceland, New Orleans and many others. Looks like Fisher will have quite a bit of jet lag by the end of this game.
Now to move onto the exciting bit, Multiplayer! Now named Spies Vs. Upsilon Forces, it has changed significantly from the Spy vs. Mercs in the previous games. For one thing, the Spies no longer have their “Sticky Shocker” gun, thus reducing their combat skills, forcing them to sneak up behind a mercenary and snap their necks. You may think this gives the Mercs an unfair advantage, but it doesn’t. The Spies can also “hack” the Mercs equipment and weapons, thus leaving the Merc disabled and confused for a few seconds whilst you make your escape, but don’t think the Mercs can’t fight back. They may only have 3 bits of equipment this time round, but by gosh they’re good. They get a super cool assault rifle (unlimited ammo), grenades and a drone. The drone is used to get into the little nooks and crannies that those pesky Spies climb into to hide. The drone can also be detonated injuring everyone within its blast range. The Spies also have gadgets. They get a wrist computer to hack and disable lights. They also get one of the following; smoke or flash bang grenades (from the previous games), a health needle (for reviving and healing other team members) or a jammer (for scrambling the Mercs proximity detector)
Unfortunately, the co-op mode has been dropped but there is a version in single player with the AI being player 2. Characters such as Jamie and Erica Villablanca (Sam’s possible love interest) are controlled by AI and are there to help you out in certain levels.
Hopefully you have stopped drooling over your keyboard, reading about all this Splinter Cell goodness. Keep an eye on 360monster because we will be having a full review of Splinter Cell: Double Agent in the coming days.