"Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell" video game series will continue to push forward the stealth and espionage gameplay genre for a long time to come. We have Tom Clancy to thank for that.
With Clancy's passing today, a best selling and prolific author — yes he had writers churning out stories in his name — is lost. Clancy had many detractors with critics often labeling him as an airport traveler's companion guide. His books were the ones found in the airport shops, in the small rack in the local supermarket and with dedicated shelf space at Barnes and Noble and other book stores.
Tom Clancy turned himself into a brand.
He's been a driving force in film as well as on the page with credits to films like "The Hunt For Red October" and "A Clear And Present Danger."
I personally never read his novels but I did enjoy the movies. But what really really stood out for me and gave me hours upon hours of enjoyment were a few installments in the "Splinter Cell" video game series.
"Splinter Cell" was Clancy's first foray into the gaming arena, which he jumped into with Ubisoft back in 2000 to develop the game for a 2002 release on the then new Xbox, Playstation 2, Nintendo GameCube and PC and Mac.
Gamers were initially skeptical of how a Clancy themed game would turn out, but when "Splinter Cell" hit shelves it was met with rave reviews and an enthusiastic group of gamers looking for something a little different from the established franchise "Metal Gear Solid."
In the game, we play as Sam Fisher (voiced by Michael Ironside) a black ops uber spy working for the NSA who's out to stop some nefarious Clancy-esque group of bad guys. You do this by lurking in the shadows, being patient, and striking at your enemies with various gadgets and moves when the time is right.
The gameplay and plot driven story in combination with the powerful Unreal Engine driven graphics provided a unique experience. But one of the best gaming experiences I've ever had came with the sequel, "Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow" in 2005.
"Pandora Tomorrow" provided me with one of the first compelling online multiplayer experiences on Xbox Live. With 2-on-2 mercenary versus spies gameplay, I had many sleepless weekend nights occupied by sneaking through the shadows and breaking necks with my online buddies.
Merc is not long for the world.
This was also one of the first games where I completely stopped playing through the single player campaign because all I wanted to do was jump into matches with my friends online. There was just something incredibly enjoyable about creeping up behind a merc who was talking to his teammate, then dropping him in a variety of ways and laughing as you do it with the knowledge his partner heard the whole thing.
Crawling through vent shafts as a spy, or blasting away at spies with my weapons as a merc while trying to protect the objective on a number of solid maps was thrilling.
Personally, I never quite recaptured the magic with other Splinter Cell games after Pandora Tomorrow, but the series has continued on with critical acclaim and commercial success. It is Ubisoft Montreal's flagship franchise along with "Assassin's Creed." And really, there would be no "Assassin's Creed" without the success and evolution of stealth gameplay brought on by the "Splinter Cell" series.
The newest Tom Clancy game "Blacklist" hit shelves in August of this year, and once again garnered excellent reviews. There's no doubt the "Splinter Cell" series will continue on into the next generation of consoles and carry on the legacy of spy thriller espionage for which Clancy was known.
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