Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (video game)

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Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
Tharealsplintercell.jpg
Developer(s) Ubi Soft Montreal [lower-alpha 1]
Publisher(s)
Producer(s)
Designer(s)
Programmer(s) Antoine Dodens
Artist(s) Hugo Dallaire
Writer(s)
Composer(s) Michael Richard Plowman
Series Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
Engine Unreal Engine 2.0
Platform(s)
Release
November 18, 2002
  • Xbox
    • NA: November 18, 2002 [4]
    • EU: November 29, 2002 [5]
    Microsoft Windows
    • NA: February 18, 2003 [6]
    • EU: February 28, 2003 [7]
    Mobile
    • WW: March 3, 2003 [8]
    PlayStation 2
    GameCube
    Game Boy Advance
    N-Gage
    • EU: December 5, 2003
    • NA: December 10, 2003
    Mac OS X
    PlayStation 3
    • EU/AU: September 16, 2011
    • NA: September 27, 2011
Genre(s) Stealth
Mode(s) Single-player

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is a 2002 stealth game developed by Ubi Soft Montreal and published by Ubi Soft. It is the first game in the Splinter Cell series. Endorsed by author Tom Clancy, it follows the activities of NSA black ops agent Sam Fisher (voiced by Michael Ironside). The game was inspired by both the Metal Gear series and games created by Looking Glass Studios, and was built using Unreal Engine 2. [3] [14] [15]

Contents

Originally released as an Xbox exclusive in 2002, [16] [17] the game was ported to Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, GameCube and Mac OS X in 2003. [18] A side-scrolling adaptation developed by Gameloft was also released in 2003 for Game Boy Advance, mobile phones and N-Gage (the latter with the subtitle Team Stealth Action). [19] [20] A remastered high definition version was released on PlayStation 3 in September 2011, and an Xbox version was made available for Xbox One via backward compatibility in June 2019. [21]

Splinter Cell received critical acclaim on release and is considered as one of the best video games ever made. The success of the game lead to multiple sequels, starting with Pandora Tomorrow in 2004, and a series of novels written under the pseudonym David Michaels. A remake of Splinter Cell is currently in development by Ubisoft Toronto.

Gameplay

The primary focus and hallmark of Splinter Cell's gameplay is stealth, with strong emphasis on light and darkness. The player is encouraged to move through the shadows for concealment whenever possible. The game displays a "light meter" that reflects how visible the player character is to enemies, and night vision and thermal vision goggles to help the player navigate in darkness or smoke/fog, respectively. The light meter functions even when night vision goggles is activated, and it is possible to destroy lights, thus reducing the chances of exposure significantly.

Splinter Cell strongly encourages the use of stealth over brute force. Although Sam Fisher is usually equipped with firearms, he carries limited ammunition and is not frequently provided with access to additional ammo. The player begins most missions with a limited supply of less-than-lethal weapons in addition to Fisher's firearms, a suppressed FN Five-Seven sidearm that is provided for every mission, as well as a suppressed FN F2000 assault rifle during some missions, which includes a telescopic sight and a launcher for some of the less-lethal devices such as ring airfoil projectiles, "sticky shockers" and CS gas grenades. The weapon can even fire a camera that sticks onto surfaces, allowing Fisher to covertly perform surveillance from a safe area.

Flexibility of movement is a focuspoint of Splinter Cell. Fisher can sneak up on enemies from behind to grab them; allowing interrogation, quiet incapacitation, or use as a human shield. Fisher is acrobatic and physically adept, and has a variety of maneuvers including the ability to mantle onto and climb along ledges, hang from pipes and perform a "split jump" in narrow spaces to mantle up a steep wall.

Plot

In August 2004, former U.S. Navy SEAL officer Sam Fisher joins the National Security Agency, as part of its newly formed division "Third Echelon", headed by his old friend Irving Lambert. Two months later, Fisher, aided by technical expert Anna "Grim" Grimsdóttír and field runner Vernon Wilkes Jr., is sent to Georgia to investigate the disappearance of two CIA officers. One had been installed into the new government of Georgian president Kombayn Nikoladze, who seized power in a bloodless coup d'état following the assassination of his predecessor; the other was sent in to find them after they disappeared. Fisher discovers both were murdered on Nikoladze's orders by former Spetsnaz member Vyacheslav Grinko, after discovering that Georgia is secretly waging an ethnic cleansing campaign across Azerbaijan with Georgian commandos. After exposing this to the international community, NATO forces enter Azerbaijan to combat this, prompting Nikoladze to go underground.

Third Echelon soon discovers a data exchange is taking place between a Caspian oil rig and the Georgian presidential palace. Fisher intercepts this, discovering information about an item called "The Ark", as well as evidence that there is a mole in the CIA. Shortly after this, North America is hit by a massive cyber warfare attack directed at military targets, to which Nikoladze claims responsibility before declaring war on the United States and its allies. Investigating the leak, Fisher discovers a staff member backed-up data to an unsecured laptop, that was later exploited by a Virginian-based network owned by Kalinatek, Inc, a tech company controlled by the Georgians. After Grim's efforts to access their servers spooks them, Fisher is sent in to recover an encryption key from a technician in the building, before Georgian-hired mafiosos attempt to liquidate all the incriminating evidence. In his escape, Wilkes is mortally wounded extracting him and dies soon afterwards.

With the encryption key, the NSA discover that Nikoladze has been using a network of unconventional relays to communicate with Georgian military cells. Tracing the full relay network back to the Chinese embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, Fisher is sent in discreetly to investigate. Fisher discovers Nikoladze is working alongside Chinese General Kong Feirong, supplying him with nuclear waste in exchange for arms and munitions. Fearful this could lead China and the United States into war, Fisher moves to rescue captured US soldiers before they can be executed live in a web broadcast, in the process encountering high-ranking Chinese diplomats, who reveal Feirong is act against the best interests of China, before being forced to kill Grinko to protect the hostages. Fishers moves in to capture Feirong for information on Nikoladze's location and to expose to his rogue activities to the Chinese government. After preventing him from committing suicide in a drunken stupor, Feirong provides access to his computer, with its data revealing that Nikoladze had fled back to Georgia in order to activate "The Ark".

Infiltrating the Georgian presidential palace where Nikoladze is, alongside the newly installed Georgian president Varlam Cristavi, Fisher attempts to recover the key to the Ark, which he learns is in fact a nuclear suitcase bomb that has been placed somewhere in the United States. Fisher corners Nikoladze, who bargains to give the Ark key in exchange for safe passage out of Georgia. After Cristavi's forces arrive and escort Nikoladze to safety, Lambert rescues Fisher from execution by creating a diversion via power blackout. Discovering that Nikoladze is offering the Ark's location for protection, Fisher assassinates him on Lambert's orders. The National Guard eventually locates the bomb in an apartment complex in the state of Maryland, and secretly recover it after evacuating the building under the pretense of dealing with a gas leak. Despite a war being averted, Nikoladze's corpse sparks international backlash due to the suspicious circumstances around his death. Watching the U.S. president give a speech on the end of the crisis, Fisher then receives a secure phone call from Lambert for another assignment.

Development

The game originally started development as a sci-fi, James Bond type game called The Drift, which Ubisoft intended to be "a Metal Gear Solid 2 killer". [15] The game's producer Mathieu Ferland said " Metal Gear Solid was a huge inspiration for Splinter Cell." [14] The game's designer and writer Clint Hocking also said Splinter Cell "owes its existence to" the Metal Gear series, while noting he was also influenced by System Shock , Thief and Deus Ex . [3]

Because the development team was aiming for a Teen ESRB rating, the team tried to minimize the level of violence. [22] The soundtrack for the game was composed by English composer Michael Richard Plowman.

Version differences

The PC version of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is fairly closely based on the original Xbox version. Both were made by Ubisoft Montreal. The GameCube and PlayStation 2 versions, released later, were developed by Ubisoft Shanghai and are similar to each other, but have many small changes over the originals with the result that they are generally easier. Some doors are moved around, guards are less likely to notice gunshots, etc.

Each version of the game has some exclusive features. The Xbox and Windows versions have three new downloadable missions which involve a Russian nuclear sub. The PlayStation 2 version includes an exclusive level between Kalinatek and the Chinese Embassy which takes place in a nuclear power plant in the Kola Peninsula, new cinematics, a new intro cinematic with original music by the Prague Orchestra and many behind-the-scenes interviews and documentaries both about the new intro and the game itself. The GameCube version includes the same cinematics, uses the Game Boy Advance link cable to give players a real-time overhead map, a new sticky-bomb weapon and progressive scan (480p) support. Additionally, both the GameCube and PlayStation 2 versions include new binoculars items. The Windows versions also includes support for the EAX 3.0 ADVANCED HD 3D positional audio technology by Creative Labs, which available in the EMU10K2 processor-based Soundcard such as the Sound Blaster Audigy and Audigy 2 series. [23]

A PlayStation 3 version was announced to be part of the Splinter Cell Trilogy which was released in September 2011 as part of Sony's Classics HD series. It was revealed on the PlayStation Blog that it would be ported from the PC version, because it had more details and more content than the PlayStation 2 version. [24] It was released on the European PlayStation Network on August 10, 2011. [25] The PlayStation 3 version does not include the downloadable bonus missions that the Xbox and PC versions had.

Reception

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell received positive reviews upon the game's release. GameSpot 's Greg Kasavin said that Splinter Cell has "hands down the best lighting effects seen in any game to date." [63] GameSpot later named Splinter Cell the second-best Xbox game of November 2002, behind MechAssault . [93] IGN likewise praised the game for its graphics and lighting, while also praising how it evolved Metal Gear Solid 's third-person stealth-action gameplay. [79] Both praised the game's audio, noting that Michael Ironside as Sam Fisher's voice suited the role perfectly. Scott Alan Marriott of AllGame gave the Xbox version four-and-a-half stars out of five and called it "one of the few games to elicit a feeling of suspense without resorting to shock techniques found in survival horror titles like Resident Evil ." [94]

Criticism of the game was also present. Greg Kasavin said that Splinter Cell is "sometimes reduced to frustrating bouts of trial and error." In addition, Kasavin criticized the game's cutscenes, saying that they are not up to par with the rest of the game's graphics. [63]

Non video-game publications also gave the game favorable reviews. Entertainment Weekly gave the Xbox version an A and called it "wickedly ingenious". [92] The Village Voice gave the PlayStation 2 version eight out of ten and said, "If this game were any more realistic, you'd have to hold in your farts." [95] The Cincinnati Enquirer gave the Game Boy Advance version all four stars and said that "While it lacks 3-D graphics and an impressive use of lighting and shadows found in its predecessors, the stealthy action game still captures the thrill of modern espionage." [91]

Sales

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell was a commercial success. [96] Pre-orders reached 1.1 million units and the game sold 480,000 copies worldwide by the end of 2002, after three weeks on sale. [97] France accounted for 60,000 units in the initial three weeks. [98] By early January 2003, sales in North America had surpassed 1 million units, while Europe accounted for 600,000 units. [99] By March 31, 2003, its sales had risen to 3.6 million copies. [100] Splinter Cell sold 4.5 million copies by June and 5 million by the end of September, [101] [96] and its sales reached 6 million units by the end of March 2004. [102] By July 2006, the Xbox version of Splinter Cell had sold 2.4 million copies and earned $62 million in the United States alone. Next Generation ranked it as the 10th highest-selling game launched for the PlayStation 2, Xbox or GameCube between January 2000 and July 2006 in that country. It remained the best-selling Splinter Cell game in the United States by July 2006. [103]

The game's PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions each received a "Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), [104] given to titles that sell at least 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom. [105] Splinter Cell's computer version received a "Silver" sales award from ELSPA, [106] indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom. [105]

Awards

Splinter Cell was a runner-up for Computer Games Magazine 's list of the 10 best games of 2003. [113] It won GameSpot's 2002 "Best Graphics (Technical)" and "Best Action Adventure Game" awards among Xbox games, and was nominated in the "Best Sound", "Best Graphics (Artistic)" and overall "Game of the Year on Xbox" categories. [114]

Nominations

Remake

On December 15, 2021, Ubisoft announced that a remake of the game is under development at Ubisoft Toronto using Snowdrop, the game engine behind Tom Clancy's The Division and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora . [117]

Notes

  1. Ubi Soft Shanghai developed the PlayStation 2 and GameCube ports, and Gameloft developed the adaptation for Game Boy Advance, mobile, and N-Gage. i5works developed the Mac OS X port. [1]

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