The Splinter Cell series has always been something I appreciated from a distance. I played them all throughout the years as they have released and while I loved the concept, the earlier games always seemed like impossibly difficult torture games meant to drive someone insane. As I got older I learned to appreciate the series a little more. I really enjoyed Conviction and I played Double Agent to little success but with the release of the original trilogy I can now go back and check out the series from the start. The Splinter Cell Trilogy tells the story of Sam Fisher across the three games Splinter Cell, Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow, and Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. Basically the plot of every game is the same where Sam Fisher is part of Third Echelon, a super covert operations unit in the NSA.
In every game terrorists are doing bad things and with Sam being the best of the best he is sent in to prevent nuclear war time and time again using stealth tactics and interrogation. There are expected plot devices that you would expect from any spy game such as false information and betrayal. It was never the story that made Splinter Cell interesting but rather the gameplay which is safe to say hasn’t aged well over the years. This HD collection, like most of the others, just seems like a way for companies to offer you the entire series of a game on current generation of consoles as there is no way to play the older games unless you have a Playstation 2. While it is nice to be able to play through all of Splinter Cell it begs to question is this really a collection people will be interested in as the Splinter Cell series has always done well enough but was never a large blockbuster series.
All of these games are the harshest example of a stealth game meant for people who love to play it slow and steady. Something that has remained constant in all Splinter Cell games is hiding in shadows, which has always been my favorite aspect of these games. The main focus is sneaking up on unsuspecting terrorists which the first few games just barely manage while the third game feels vastly improved as I was able to sneak up on most enemies creatively and with very few issues. The controls feel very familiar but one thing that bothers me with most of these collections is that all of the controls for all of the games should be the same instead of remaining in their original form. It can easily cause confusion if you are jumping between all of the games as the controls are slightly different in each game.
This biggest downfall of these games and what I both love and hate the most about this is how slow you have to play. We live in 2011 where games are very dynamic and fast paced. Splinter Cell however is a game where if you push too hard on your thumb stick then you fail a mission because you were walking too loudly. It really takes to heart what it means to be a stealth game. While it can be extremely frustrating it does give you a great sense of accomplishment if you ever complete a mission on any of these games.
While playing these games in order you will clearly recognize how dated they are but you will start to see improvements with each iteration. The first game looks remarkably bad as you can see the sharp pixels on almost everything and the environments seem a little uninspired. Each game does manage to step it up in graphics and Chaos Theory definitely stands out as the best looking game in this collection which is to be expected. One thing that is persistent through all of the games is weird facial animations but with these games being from the last generation of consoles this isn’t too unusual. Overall the HD revamping of these games looks pretty good but they will never leave any lasting impressions as there have been original downloadable games with graphics just as good if not better.
While it is sad to say the first game is nearly unplayable as it is so dated that it would probably never appeal to any current or new gamers who had never played the game when it first released. The difficulty level for all of the games is a huge hurdle as they can all be pretty tough games to make it through if you aren’t executing mission objectives perfectly. While the later two games are still playable as they did start making them a little easier, the games just seem too dated for this day and age. Hardcore stealth fans may find some enjoyment out of the strict stealth rules of Splinter Cell but the average gamer is just going to find the games frustrating and not inclined to want to play the games from start to finish.
This collection just feels like a quick cash grab aimed at people who have never played a Splinter Cell game before. Like with most HD collections it just feels like they are selling this idea on the concept that you can now own and entire series on the current generation of consoles. While for some games this may be more acceptable but with the Splinter Cell franchise it may just be best to forget about the older games and focus on the future of the license. This collection may appeal to the hardcore Splinter Cell fans but outside of pleasing diehard fans, these games could be completely unmissed.