When I first started seriously playing video games, I never read any magazines or looked on any blogs. I went to the store, saw a cheap used game and bought it. If it was a terrible game, the worst it did for me was waste a few hours of my time. I never felt hurt or utterly betrayed. Now, with this there internet and gaming magazines, it feels like any time you play a bad game, a piece of your soul dies. And the blogging and gaming magazine are becoming more and more successful because of this. I’m not saying I don’t hate. I hate on bad games as much as the next guy. But, I’ve been thinking. How come we don’t celebrate the good games? The wonderful games? Consider this my ode to you, great and wonderful games. I love you so much. I might cry.
I loved the first Splinter Cell. It was this spy game made for true spy gamers. And it promised the impossible: to be a better game than the Metal Gear Solid franchise. I was skeptical. No game could be better than Metal Gear. It’s like wanting to fly to the moon. Impossible! But, five minutes in, I knew true love. The enemies didn’t forget about you. They heard everything. And for the first time ever in my gaming life, I choose the path least likely to make me shoot people. Sneaking past twenty guards rewarded you with your life. You had little or no ammo and you had night vision. Sitting in a corner for ten minutes waiting on a guard was actually fun. It was something special.
Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow was good, but not great. Done by Ubisoft: Shanghai, the only thing cool about it was the Spy vs. Merc online Multiplayer. But the single game was more of the same, with no real innovations. But Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory came out and proved my suspicions. Ubisoft: Montréal were the real geniuses. There was something special about this franchise. It looked positively incredible, and that was before HD outputs and anti-aliasing. The guards were even smarter than before. If you made a noise, they searched around with flash lights, laid down flares, changed their routines all together. And they gave you the knife. Oh, the knife! The first time I snuck up behind a guard and stabbed him in the spleen introduced me to an unknown joy. Yes, it is a violent game. The bad guys shut off power to New York City. They tried to fire nuclear missiles. They tried to start World War III. The stakes were so high that it seemed impossible to achieve victory. But the game was about finding information and using it wisely, not shooting people in the face. You sneaked. You listened. And the multiplayer not only had Spy vs. Merc, but the best Co-op game play ever. Even better than some of the recent attempts. Whenever someone complained that the original Xbox had nothing but shooters, I always point to Splinter Cell: CE. It is one of the highest scored games ever. It is a work of genius.
The follow up, Splinter Cell: Double Agent, was no where near as good. It wasn’t a sequel. It was a mistake that successfully ended the franchise as we know it. The Ubisoft guys are working on the evolution of Sam Fisher, Splinter Cell: Conviction. It is promising to be more Jason Bourne and less the classic game play we are used to. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, The Splinter Cell franchise is on its last legs, and needs a strong and impressive jab in the arm. On the other hand, I think this is just the proper reaction after creating a work of genius. How do you follow up amazing game play and story telling like Splinter Cell: CT? You don’t. You retire. You say thank you when people admire your work. You gently fade away. Get this game. You’ll be glad you did.