This is my ongoing exploration of the Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell games, played in release order. I will chronicle my playthrough of each title in turn and discuss any recurring themes and noteworthy events.
With General Feirong dead and relations between China and the USA restored, it was time to locate Nikoladze, who had likely returned to Georgia for the mysterious Ark…
Sam had HALO (High Altitude-Low Open) jumped into Georgia under cover of dark, and landed on the cliffs surrounding the Presidential palace. I had to do some platforming using moves I hadn’t really had reason to use very often before this. At the top were two dogs and two guards, with a sniper behind a spotlight in a tower to one side of the courtyard. Several (very careful) headshots later, I made my way to a locked gate. Luckily the guards here hadn’t encrypted their USB drives, and I had the code for the gate. There was another guard just past it, but he was taken swift care of, and I slipped inside the basement.
I made my way into a large hall that had some statues in cases, and surrounded by laser tripwires. I only noticed those as I had my night vision goggles on, so that was lucky. The lights came on and three guards came in for some reason. I waited in the shadows for them to disperse before taking them out quietly. I hid the bodies in deep shadows, then left the hall the way they had entered.
The staircase I came across had more laser tripwires, which I avoided by mounting a table and grabbing a ledge to amble around. The main entrance hall of the building was through the door at the top of the stairs, and had some more guards. However, they weren’t the usual guards, they were special forces -- Georgian Elite. Probably the new CIA-friendly President Cristavi’s men.
I killed them quickly, then turned off the lights to hide the bodies, then input the new code I had found to unlock the door at the top of the balcony. There were four guards patrolling, and through a nice fluke I managed to use a distraction camera to gas three of them, and shot the other one when he came to check on his mates.
The hallway had a few display cases in, but I heard a camera down one of the passageways, so shot out the lights and snuck down there. The door at the end opened into a room with some laser tripwires, though for whatever reason they blinked on and off, allowing me time to sneak under some and jump between others. There was a guy in the room who told me that Nikoladze was almost at the library, then turned the light on. I shot him before he could kill me, then accessed Cristavi’s computer.
Colonel Lambert wasn’t happy, and told me that The Ark was a suitcase nuke, called a Special Atomic Demolition Munitions, or SADAM for short. I went back the way I came, and as I was checking the coast was still clear, another guard appeared at the other end of the hall. I snuck up behind him and knocked him out, then went through the door he came through.
There were a couple of dead people and an open window, with the door at the other end having a keypad. Luckily, I had picked up a keycode and went inside carefully -- according to the radio, Nikoladze was “inside”, and some men were heading in to get him. I needed him alive, to get his retina scanned to access the safe where the SADAM was.
There were four men who needed killing, then an elevator taking me down to the library proper. Unfortunately, the men down there were warned via radio about an “American commando” on his way that needed killing. It was tense, but the four men fell to bullets and grenades, and I went down into the hidden area below the library.
The only person down there was Nikoladze, who I grabbed and interrogated, before pushing his face into the scanner to open it for me. He wouldn’t tell me anything useful, and I didn’t get the chance to do anything else before a bunch of Georgian commandos got the jump on me. Sam held his hands up while Nikoladze explained to them that the SADAM wasn’t there -- the only thing inside the safe was the activation key. The bomb was in America.
Needing him to tell them where the bomb was, the commandos took Nikoladze. As I had the activation key, they kept me to give it to them, or they would shoot me. Luckily, Third Echelon turned the lights out, allowing me to get the drop on the commandos. I killed the three nearby in a frantic hail of bullets, then one near the exit and went out through the now-blasted open doors. There were four guards outside that required murdering, so I did that and climbed up to the balcony at the other end of the courtyard.
Nikoladze had just been sat in an office overlooking the same courtyard, and Lambert told me to take him out. Now. He knew where the bomb was, and once that information was gotten rid of -- which I managed in one sniper shot -- the USA would be safe. Once Sam had exfiltrated…
One guard came out to the balcony and I shot him, heading inside as the radio began going nuts with chatter about me, and Nikoladze being dead. I made a wrong turn which worked in my favour, when three guards came looking and I managed to shoot them all in the head one after the other.
I went back to the main entryway and it was swarming with enemies, so I climbed onto a balcony in the dining room that I had passed through. I raced down the main stairs to the main door, and the cutscene took over. Sam ran to the chopper and leapt on with a hail of bullets flying around him, making his escape.
The media spread the news of Nikoladze’s death as an internal thing, and Sam returned home to his daughter. As they watched an address being given by the President of the United States, the phone began ringing -- Third Echelon needed Sam Fisher again…
The game hasn’t held up graphically or with the controls. That said, Splinter Cell is still an enjoyable experience. The storyline is compelling enough, and although the cutscenes are absolutely awful with tons of black and squished into a tiny box, most of the storytelling takes place during the missions.
There are lots of fun gadgets that give you interesting choices on how to proceed through levels, and keeping it to only two weapons throughout the game is refreshing. Sure, one of those weapons fires multiple types of ammunition, but it’s still far from every other game I’ve played recently.
I lost count of the amount of times I laughed during the game just from Sam’s dialogue. Michael Ironside’s delivery is just so perfect, and the writing top-notch, that there were easily a dozen times he said something that made me laugh out loud.
I’m looking forward to playing Pandora Tomorrow, the next game in the series. It’s not available on Steam, so I’ve had to get it physically, but I’ll discuss that as I start the Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow Diaries, next time.