Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Splinter Cell: Double Agent (PS2)

I'm a big fan of stealth and intrigue games: Tenchu, Hitman, SOCOM - the way I play it, Sniper Elite, Mannhunt, and Splinter Cell. The slow pacing, need for infinite patience and occasionally frustrating trial and error method of play can understandably turn a lot of players off. Me I love 'em. Lurking in shadows, poisoning, setting traps, throwing people over railings, and all sorts of generally sneaky behavior makes me happy. Most of the time the story doesn't hold up but hey I'm here for the gameplay right?

Well...not really. If I'm going to sit down and put some serious time into a game I want a story and characters I give a shit about and that doesn't spoon feed me. Splinter Cell: Double Agent has a great story. The last couple of games were standard throw away stories about international terrorists, gotta do the thing, and then blah, blah, blah finishing off with an absurd last level. Double Agent has a solid action movie story: Sam Fisher - super bad-ass at making enemies of the USA have serious boo-boos - gets pulled off a mission because his daughter that he was just getting back on good terms with is rundown. Sam Fisher goes off the deep end - yay booze and grizzle! - and he has one last chance, one last mission to redeem himself. He goes deep undercover in the John Brown Army - an American terrorist group. This is where the game kicks in.

The gameplay is great, the AI is challenging - okay fucking ruthless at times. Seriously I don't knnow if I want to give the designers a hug or a crotch stomp because the AI is that good. Guards cover one another, investigate screams of pain and terror, and generally make life difficult - don't they know that I am trying to save the world? Jesus.

The graphics are outstanding. We tossed in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory from March 2005 just to check out a level and the difference was surprising. Chaos Theory looked very grainy and unpolished - which works on some of the levels of the game. One of my favorite video game levels is a bank heist in Chaos Theory. Double Agent is very smooth and sometimes startlingly realistic. Great stuff.

I figure that I am about halfway through the game. I will give a full report when complete. Right now my vote is: if you're looking for something fun to play I recommend picking this up.

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