A solid stealth experience
- -Impressive visuals
- -Campaign is good and features player choice and multiple endings
- -Intense gameplay
- -AI is good and provides a solid challenge
- -Multiplayer is fun and easy to pick up
- -Missions have good variety
- -The PS3 version is not as good of a port as it's 360 counterpart
- -Some choices don't have a very big impact
- -Story line is a little disappointing
Sam Fisher has finally arrived on next gen systems, and he's not holding anything back. Double Agent is as cutting edge of a stealth game yet, and it's also bold enough to try new things. It doesn't fully succeed at all of it, but what it does do, it does well enough making for one of the best stealth experiences around.
Double Agent begins with an even more disgruntled Sam Fisher, his daughter has been recently killed and the loss has caused him to go into a bitter state of no longer caring about his well being, allowing him to take the most dangerous mission that Third Echelon can offer: Infiltrating a very dangerous terrorist network known as John Browns Army which seeks to bring a world wide collapse of governments by using weapons of mass destruction. However in order for Sam to stop it he will have to earn their trust by doing things that go against his beliefs. This is an important aspect of Double Agent, the player choice. Throughout the course of the campaign you will be faced with many not-so-easy choices such as choosing whether or not to execute an innocent hostage, which if you do you will earn the terrorists (JBA) trust at the cost of your own morals, but if not they will be more cautious and may not reveal vital information to you. It's choices like these that make Double Agent a memorable experience, however not every decision you make has as big of an impact as it should, which feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.
The story line is overall good and it will hold your interest, but it doesn't always fully deliver. For example take the death of Sam's daughter, the game introduces it at the very beginning but never addresses it again, it's disappointing as Double Agent raises such interesting plot points but doesn't take them anywhere. However this is all easy to overlook as the campaign has such great intense gameplay.
Each mission in Double Agent is unique and bold, the first mission for instance is set up in the more "classic" Splinter Cell fashion of sneaking into a hostile military zone, but the next will have you breaking out of prison, and another will have you sneaking through the day time (yep that's right, I said day time!) in a dusty and war torn African nation. Each mission is filled with intense stealth gameplay and amazing moments. After each mission you will return back to the JBA's hideout where you are given a task to complete but are also free to explore the hideout and try to gather as much information as possible. These however have a time limit and you have to be back to the area where you originally started from, otherwise they will suspect you. Some of the most intense moments occur during these segments, such as hacking an computer file in an off-limits room knowing full well that the JBA could just walk in anytime and catch you, or trying to plant a bug on the roof without being spotted. It's these moments that will have you on the edge of your seat and sweating.
Double Agent isn't just about trying to fit in with the JBA however, you also have to please Third Echelon as well. And choosing to ignore their tasks will cause you to lose their trust. See in Double Agent there is a "trust meter" system that requires you to try to please both sides, if either one drops too low it's game over. It's a bit of delicate balancing act that makes the game all the more intense. The game also features multiple endings as well, making for good replay value.
The core stealth gameplay is very similar to past installments, you still don your goggles and stick to the shadows, trying to avoid people as much as possible. You have a variety of different gadgets at your disposal from the classic shocker bullet to a new sound gun that can be used to distract enemies. The AI is quite good and will search long and hard for you, they will check multiple rooms, call for support, and any number of things that helps to make Double Agent a challenging and rewarding stealth experience.
Whenever you are done with the campaign, there is also a fun multiplayer component to Double Agent. The hit "Spies vs Mercenaries" mode returns, but much more improved for new users and it's no longer confusing. The concept is simple: A team of 3 spies tries to hack information from servers that are guarded by 3 mercenaries. The spies have a variety of tricks up there sleeve such as smoke grenades and acrobatic maneuvers, where as the mercenaries are armed to the teeth with heavy weapons and have some useful gadgets of their own such as the "drone" that they remotely control to search for spies. Another big difference between the two teams is the perspective; spies play in 3rd person and the mercenaries play in 1st person. The multiplayer is also very balanced and neither side has any real advantage over the other, for instance while the spies may be more agile and can hide in places the mercenaries cannot get to, they lack combat abilities and can only kill a mercenary by sneaking up from behind and snapping their necks or by pulling them off form a ledge. The mercenaries can easily gun down the spies and have a huge leg up in close combat, but they can't get into the small air ducts that the spies hide in, nor do they have the the wider perspective that the spies get to enjoy in 3rd person.
The multiplayer is very easy to pick up and get into, and it certainly requires a great deal of team work and strategy. Double Agent also inlcudes AI bots that you can practice with, though the bots are only mercenaries and not spies, but it's still a good way to learn the basics and the maps. Speaking of maps, Double Agent features a good number of them and each one is dynamic and well designed. From a giant mansion, to an abandoned slaughter house, a creepy old prison, and more. Double Agent has a multiplayer that is built to last and it will no doubt keep you hooked.
Visually, Double Agent is very impressive. Character models and environments are well detailed and the lighting is dynamic, you can also see the emotions on the characters such as when you grab one from behind you can see the horror in their face. Even smaller details are impressive like the sweat on Sam's head during a mission, Ubisoft really went to great graphical lengths for Double Agent, and it shows.
Unfortunately not all versions of Double Agent are equal, the PS3 version was not ported as well as it should have been. Character models are not as detailed as their 360 counterparts, and the frame rate is noticeably lower. The PS3 version is not bad by any means, it still looks good and it's still certainly playable, it's just not as good as the 360 version. But it's still noticeable and it is worth mentioning. The PS3 version does come with some extra content however, it has a couple extra multiplayer maps and it gives the option of playing as a female spy. So it's bit of a toss up as to what version to get, but I personally would recommend the 360 version of the game for the reasons I mentioned above.
Splinter Cell Double Agent is an excellent stealth game that should not be missed. It offers a bold campaign, intense stealth gameplay, and a great multiplayer experience. That makes for one great overall package and the game's few flaws are minor at best.
Splinter Cell Double Agent get's a 4/5