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As J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and their ilk would probably attest, being a famous author or is by and large a good thing. After all, you end up making huge amounts of money for something you enjoy doing, and you get to see people taking pleasure in reading what you've written. But there is a darker side to the matter too - the horror that is fan fiction. Some people take it upon themselves to take characters from popular fiction and use them to create their own works which they post upon the internet.
These butchered works of fiction are pretty poor, and there's even a whole sub-section of fan fiction devoted to unusual sexual pairings too. No, I swear I'm not making this up - if you're an author and your books have achieved any level of fame, someone's almost certainly written a story about one of your characters being rammed by a Care Bear. These works of fan fiction are, of course, completely unauthorized, after all, what author would want other his name or characters purloined by someone else? Well, Tom Clancy would, apparently.
Because while the man started his career as a writer, Mr Clancy's has for some time been lending his name to a range of novels and games which were written by other people and which he had little, if anything to do with. Splinter Cell: Double Agent is one such product, the fourth game in a series which bears Tom Clancy's name, despite his involvement in the games being pretty minimal. Like its predecessors, Double Agent is a third person stealth-based game, which casts you as superspy Sam Fisher, a member of a top-secret government agency charged with keeping America safe from rogue nations, terrorists organisations and so forth.
And wouldn't you know it, Double Agent sees one such threat has rear its ugly head. This time the enemy is a group of white Unabomber style terrorists, who call themselves John Brown's Army. But this time Sam will be spying on the JBA from the inside, having been sent to prison in order to hook up with a member of the group who's behind bars. The end result is that, as before, you end up sneaking your way through a variety of levels, hiding in the shadows and knocking out the occasional guard. But this time you have two sets of objectives, one set given to you by the JBA, the other set being from your government paymasters. Sounds like a bit of a balancing act is in order, which should make for an interesting game? Er, no, not quite.
The trouble is that apart from the enhanced graphics that the game sports, Double Agent is really no better than any of the previous games in series. I guess the thinking behind the whole 'Double Agent' aspect of the game was that by killing off Sam's daughter and having him work for the JBA, somehow the game would be edgier. In fact, it's not.
Sam Fisher has always been a grumpy swine so you can't tell if he's angst-ridden or not. And while it's true that you ultimately do get to decide whether to work for or against the JBA, you don't really make that decision till the end of the game. You have to make sure the JBA doesn't lose trust in you and so you have to complete a fair proportion of their objectives, which makes sense. But you don't have the option to disregard the NSA's objectives either, and turn terrorist, because if they lose trust in you, they pull you out. Except, just how the hell do they remove you? You're deep undercover working with a terrorist organization and they just magically remove you? It's just daft.
In fact, as the series goes, I'd say that Splinter Cell: Double Agent is actually a little worse than its prequel, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Chaos Theory had open levels, and you could more or less approach any objective from multiple entry points. Double Agent, on the other hand, sports levels that are fairly linear, so there's only usually one way to go, not giving you any real reason to replay the levels.
The light meter that also shows you whether you're in shadow or not has been simplified so instead of a sliding scale which shows you how visible you are, there's a 'hidden' and 'not hidden' light. You can't tell when Fisher is visible just by looking at him, since the game lets you see him all the time. So you have to rely on the meter, but you're given no clue as to when you're getting near a light area. Instead, the light suddenly flicks to yellow leaving you visible to any guards in the area. Which can often mean game over - quite why the programmers decided to do this is beyond me.
There have been some minor improvements in Splinter Cell's online multiplayer mode. Co-op play is so-so, but actually having teams of mercenaries fighting against spies is much more entertaining, whatever team you're playing on. Mercenaries are, unsurprisingly, armed to the teeth but spies have stealth on their side so matches can go either way. It's good to have an online game where just running in guns blazing won't win the day. But then again, the multiplayer mode is pretty similar Splinter Cell 3's - it's certainly not leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor. In fact, we've seen it all before - even the plot is the same old evil terrorist group with a super weapon stuff.
Splinter Cell: Double Agent is worth renting if you were a fan of the previous games or if you've not played any of the series so far. But there's certainly not enough new stuff here to make Double Agent a worthy purchase. Still, I suppose there's always the sequel - the one that the 'to be continued' ending inevitably will lead into. Hopefully that will contain more than just superficial changes.
(review by me, originally posted on Freeola)
Splinter Cell, as always offers the player a mix of either running into the game with guns blazing and explosions everywhere, but they also offer different ways to complete the game, of course, you can run in with guns blazing but Splinter Cell tries to persuade you to complete the tasks with a bit more stealth.
As with nearly all the Splinter Cell games, it looks stunning, with amazing lighting and great textures. It has it's easy, maybe a bit boring moments but it also has it's challenging and addictive times, making you want to struggle on until you complete it!
The story is good, placing Sam Fisher in the hands of two groups, working as a double agent, everything you do in game reflects upon how these two groups view you.
And, as with all the previous games, you are given an extensive supply of weapons and gadgets to complete your task. Making it fun to try out different ways to complete your goal!