January 30, 2012

KVR Archive: Splinter Cell: Double Agent Review

Since I was unsatisfied with my review of this game, I decided to change a few things, in order to make it decent.

Splinter Cell Double Agent is a 2006 game, the fourth instalment in the Splinter Cell series.

It has two versions: The Next Gen version for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. The Old Gen version was released for the Xbox, PlayStation 2 and Wii. This review will be focusing on the Next Gen version.
Areas Of Concern: 

Violence: The player can either kill or knock out enemy guards: 
  • Kill = You stab the guard, or slit his throat, with a slicing sound. This is bloodless.
Lethal Takedown
  • Knock out = You punch or slap the guard.
Non-Lethal Takedown

The player can also grab an enemy to interrogate him. You sometimes give him a chop to the neck. Your character then threatens him using his knife. 

Grabbing an enemy to interrogate him


When he is finished, the player can also either kill or knock the enemy out:
  • Kill = You kick him in back, probably breaking his spine. No graphic sound effect.
Interrogation = Lethal Takedown
  • Knock out = You will quickly choke the guard.

Interrogation = Non-Lethal Takedown

You can do the same to civilians, but the game discourages it.

During the game, the player can hold an enemy in a chokehold.

You can once again choose to kill or knock him out:

  • Kill = You break his neck. A crack is heard.
Chokehold = Lethal Takedown
  • Knock out = You give him a chop to the side of the neck.
Chokehold = Non-Lethal Takedown

If you are underwater, and beneath an guard who is standing on ice, the player can break the ice, grab the enemy and stab him in the chest. A small amount of blood is seen.
Lethal = Underwater

The player can also pull enemies into water, and break their necks. A crack is heard.

You can also shoot enemies. A very small spray of blood can be seen. This is how it looks most of the time somebody is shot, with a few exceptions.

One level, where a war is taken place, has a moderate amount of blood stains on the walls or floor.

You are told to shoot a hostage on two occasions, although you can choose not to. At the second hostage, you can choose to shoot an enemy instead. Both hostages are blood stained, and sometimes the environment around them. 

If you choose to shoot them, they will simply fall over. If the player chooses not to shoot the first hostage, another man will shoot him, and blood will stain the wall behind the dead hostage.

If you instead opt to shoot the terrorist at the latter scene, he will clutch his chest, and fall over, with a moderate amount of blood staining the wall behind him.

In one scene, a man who apparently just had his legs blown off, sits in a small pool of blood, holding a grenade. He dies, and drops the grenade. It explodes, and when you come back, (Assuming you ran away.) the man will have disappeared.

In the same level, some people get blown up by land mines. They simply drop dead, whilst on fire. No dismemberment.

The player can choose to blow up a ship, which innocent people are on. If you choose to, the ship will blow up, with only the explosion seen. If you choose to frame somebody else, said person will get shot in the head. No blood.

In one scene, the player punches a man hard in the face. He dies.

There are several other scenes of people getting punched. 

In another scene, the player grabs an enemy and breaks his neck. A loud crack is heard.
In some scenes, terrorists gun down civilians or unarmed soldiers. This happens quickly.

Sex/Nudity: Pictures of scantily clad woman can be seen on the wall in the enemy headquarters.

They are not the focus of the scene at any point during the game.
One of the pictures, to the right.

You can seduce a female member of the enemy team. Your character pushes her up against a wall, and kisses her on the neck. The scene cuts away at that point.

Seducing the enemy team member

A guard, if interrogated, will say: "I used to know this girl once, she sucks a mean-(Character interrupts)"

In-game emails, which you can access, mention on two occasions that employees should not go to rooms with guests.

A guard tells another guard he is not interested in going to the steam room with him. It might be a homosexual reference, not sure.

Language: Infrequent swearing. S**t, H*ll, D**n, B**ch and B*st**d, C**p, Sc**w and Pr**k are said.
A use of "Go Sc**w yourself!"
Muffled use of the F-Word by one guard.
Partial use of the F-Word by a few enemies.
God' and Jesus' name are used in vain occasionally.

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking: References to drug dealers, a man gets drunk and passes out, and some enemy guards smoke.

Spiritual content: One level takes place in Shanghai, during New Year's celebration. Of course, a massive dragon float is seen.

Your character is asked by an enemy guard where he got his information from:
  • Character: "God" 
  • Enemy: Well, why don't you go ask "God" for-(Your character interrupts.)
Gross Stuff: At one point, you can see a guard relieving himself. He is in silhouette, so nothing is seen.

That covers about everything. Now for the review:

Review of game:
(Single player only)

Sunglasses on….

Sunglasses off….

Sunglasses on….

Sunglasses off….

OH......erm, hi! I was just busy...uh, “Testing” out a new feature in Splinter Cell: Double Agent. It’s sunglasses, which you get in the war level!

Oh, I forgot. I’m doing a review. How unprofessional.
So, uh, where to start? Well, let’s begin with the story:

Story: You play as Sam Fisher, a Splinter Cell agent. Splinter Cell's are agents who are capable of infiltrating areas without being seen. They were formed by a NSA organization known as Third Echelon.

Fisher was the first of these agents. He was responsible for a lot of changes behind the scenes, and occasionally helped avert a global catastrophe. He was the ultimate agent, and a living legend to his co-workers inside Third Echelon. That is, until now.

After completing a mission in Iceland, Fisher is informed by his superior, Lambert, that his only child, Sarah, was killed by a drunk driver in a hit and run incident.

Sam eventually becomes unstable, and becomes a concern to Lambert and the rest of the agency. Lambert then decides to offer him the most dangerous job of his career, since he no longer has anything to live for. 

Sam's appearance in Double Agent.

The job is to infiltrate a dangerous terrorist organization, known as John Brown's Army. (JBA) He will be working with them as a double agent. 

Fisher soon finds himself in a dangerous spot, where the decisions he makes are in the very gay zone. Uh, “GRAY” ZONE. (Stupid autocorrect) 

Many lives are at stake, and it is getting increasingly difficult for Sam to decide what is right, and what is wrong.

Or so the game makes you want to believe.

You see, the problem with the story is, that none of these "Decisions" make you stop and ponder if you're doing the right thing. Sure, the interactivity is great, but I would have hoped for more compelling options than: Shoot hostage to make terrorists like you, don't shoot hostage to make NSA like you.

But I will say this, having choices add a whole new element to the story, on top of the traditional Splinter Cell gameplay, and makes the game more compelling. I just would have liked some better writing.

Gameplay: The gameplay is mostly the same as other installments, such as hiding in shadows in order to not be seen, taking out enemy guards, hiding their bodies to avoid raising an alarm, etc., etc.

However, Double Agent adds a new "Trust" system, and the awesome sunglasses. :P

Sunglasses on…

Sunglasses off…

Sunglasses on…

Sunglasses off… Sorry. I get easily distracted.

Anyways, where was I? Oh! I was talking about “Trust”!

You earn trust by completing objectives for either organization. (NSA or JBA.) 

Whilst previous installments gave you a "Game Over" screen for failing to complete a primary objective, this one instead makes your trust for that faction go down. (But sometimes you have to complete an objective or else the game ends.)

If your trust meter falls to 0% for either organization, the game immediately ends.

The trust system adds a new layer to the game, even if it is not much of a layer.

The game however does entertain with it’s variety of levels.

There are a few good sequences throughout the game. One level has you taking control of super tanker, and features a lot of traditional Splinter Cell gameplay. Another level has you rappelling off a hotel in Shanghai, and another is set aboard a luxury ship.

The game also features a level which you revisit four times. It is doesn't feature a lot of action, and it's more about you planting bugs, recording people's voices, scanning fingerprints, etc. etc.

Some people might not like this level. But I found it to be a needed change of pace, compared to the other missions.

So gameplay wise, this game is okay, but not really outstanding.

Graphics: Visual quality is good overall, but some levels have issues graphically. This is mostly on the PC version.
There are a ton of bugs on the PC version, which get very annoying. Just getting the game to start is a huge mission.

This is what kills the game for me. The game developers did not do a very good job of porting over the game from the Xbox 360.

Believe me, its hard not getting annoyed when you’re constantly getting stuck in walls and objects, not to mention the game sometimes won’t END! (Unless you change the screen resolution.)

Audio: High quality overall. All the voice actors are good, if not particular memorable. (Sam being one exception, but his lines in this game isn’t particularly memorable either.)

Ambient sound effects, are not only good, but are also used in gameplay. For example: You can throw a wine bottle at wall in order to distract a guard. 
I like the music, even if it is minimalistic. I’m a big fan of the composer, Michael McCann, after he did the soundtrack for Deus Ex: Human Revolution. (Which I probably have to review soon.)
McCann does a great job of capturing the tone of the game, which is darker and edgier compared to the preceding Splinter Cell games. Of note is the main theme.
So, the music quality is very good overall.

That's about all there is to cover! Time for the verdict:

  • An okayish story, with a bit of variety to keep it interesting.
  • Audio-Visuals are good, but some levels are unpolished.
  • Not world changing, but the gameplay is good.
  • A ton of bugs and glitches, which is very annoying. (This may turn some people off from the PC version of the game.)
  • Suggestive themes. Photos of scantily clad women. They are in the background and never focused on. Some spoken references.
  • Moderate violence. The violence is mostly bloodless, save for a few scenes.
  • Moderate Language. Infrequent cursing.
  • Mild Drug/Alcohol/Smoking references.
  • Ages 14 and up, with caution.

So that concludes my review! I hope you found this useful!

See ya later, God bless!

Sunglasses on….

Sunglasses off….

Sunglasses on….

Sunglasses off….

Heh heh…. I can do this ALLLLLL night! Thanks, Splinter Cell developers! :P