The life of a Double Agent
Ubisoft invite you to step into the fourth instalment of the Splinter Cell series and sample the life of a Double Agent. This game promised to take the series to the next level and provide a gripping story as well as innovative gameplay on the Xbox 360.Story
By now you might have heard that Ubisoft have put Fisher through the wringer, theyíve taken our chiselled jawed hero and added a new level of trouble to his life. Heís no longer the black and white, good versus evil character weíve known for so long.
An event transpires that sends Sam off the rails, Lambert offers him a chance to rebuild his life and Sam with nothing to lose takes it. Heís thrown into a prison undercover and becomes everything he fought against to get to one man.
A member of John Brownís Army: the JBA.
Sam must infiltrate this organisation and fight to bring it down as a Double Agent.Gameplay
The series hasnít changed much in the way of controls, new moves have been added to each instalment and there have always been a few special things for each platform. In SCDA the developers have gone about things in a different way. First letís look at the similarities to the previous game control and gameplay wise.
Sam can still shimmy and use all his acrobatic moves from the previous title. He can split-jump, hang upside down from pipes (on some pipes he can use his winch and lower himself down) and climb various fences and other things in the level. Control feels tighter than the previous games and the control interface is a lot smoother this time around.
Selecting weapons is done with a few buttons and Ubisoft have kept the lethal, non-lethal moves on the right and left triggers.
The most radical change to the GUI is the loss of the noise and light meters. You have to rely on audio cues to gauge Samís footfalls, remembering that certain surfaces are louder than others. Sam has a small light on his back and his equipped weapon that functions as a visual sensor. If itís green you canít be seen, if itís yellow youíre about to be discovered and red means youíre pretty much dead.
Wall takedowns: Sam can now perform a wall takedown on a bad guy as long as heís not been discovered. Just put your back to a wall and wait for the guy to approach, do it right and youíll be able to hit the interact button and grab him.
Sam can also once more aim his pistol around corners, something that was removed from the previous title.
New to the series are water based levels where you can swim through ice cold waters, there are patches of ice that can be broken and if you wait for long enough itís possible to kill the enemy by smashing up through the ice and pulling them down to a watery grave.
There are also day time missions that make a change to the dynamics of stealth; you have to be extra careful to take advantage of hiding places and Samís athletic abilities. Often these missions involve some serious risks and getting spotted happens quite a lot until you get used to the way the game now plays.
There have been changes to the hacking system as well as the addition of several new mini-games. A safe cracking game and a mine construction game have been added to the proceedings, thereís even a bomb-defusing mini-game at one point.
There is also a trust meter, or in the case of the 360, two meters that you have to keep an eye on. Throughout the game you will be called upon to perform NSA and JBA objectives. It is here that the core of the Double Agent gameplay kicks in. Let either bar drop to nothing and its game over. You must choose which objectives to complete; star marked objectives unlock equipment and equipment upgrades.
Objectives will often have polar opposites, you canít kill and protect a target for instance Ė or can you? This is something youíre going to have to find out for yourself as the game progresses, there are solutions to a lot of the decisions but some of them are hard and fast Ė no way for you to fake it.
Thereís now the inclusion of a HQ for Sam, at the JBA. This is where you have to rely upon personal interaction, general sneakiness and watchful observance to succeed. Itís hard to hide in shadows when youíre surrounded by eager-eyed JBA members, some of which donít trust you to begin with.
It is here that youíll get to do a chunk of your NSA Double Agent objectives, or if you prefer to let Sam slip towards the bad side, donít bother since most of the objectives are optional Ė some will lead to a serious loss of trust, so you want to be careful how you play the sides.
Sam can hide under tables and in lockers (Solid Snake anyone) in this instalment and heís even given the option of bashing the locker door, if the enemy comes too close to investigate.
There is also the issue of time; Double Agent gameplay in the JBA HQ is timed. You have a certain amount of time in which to do your sneaking, get back to the start point and solve the task set to you by the JBA. One really irksome mini-game was the email decoding game and that was a bit of a hair-puller for us.
There is also the addition of ĎDirected Cutscenesí a choice moment in the in-engine cinematic where you can take control of the action, such as sky-diving and stopping a helicopter from crashing into the ground. I donít think youíre in any danger in these scenes but they make an amusing diversion and addition to the storytelling, putting you in the driving seat for a while.
The save system is back from the previous game as well allowing you to save anywhere.