Splinter Cell 1
Recent trends in stealth games allow players to play like deadly predators, taking out enemies in creative ways, going through levels using violence efficiently; a stark contrast to the first Splinter Cell game which has a very dialed back tone in which acting out violence is a bad idea. I mean sure you could eliminate all the guards, but it’s time consuming and irrational due to the high risk and penalty.
In the first Splinter Cell, stealth is the only option. Creeping and exploring the levels like a ghost is the best method of survival, it’s slow and test the players mental endurance. If you have to resort to shooting a guard the mechanics of the game are not in your favour, shooting is not 100% accurate and your scope is never steady, most of the time you’ll be shooting out lights just so you can afford to not be seen, you really have to pay attention to the speed of your movement.
This hardcore stealth approach is something I love, however it is a game that can’t be easily recommended, despite how much I enjoyed my playthrough, there were dozens of design choices that would put off new players from finishing the game.
The platforming is clunky and stiff, it feels great when you maneuver smoothly but that’s only because you are overcoming the challenge of inconsistent controls. The split jump is useless and I never used it, along with most of the gadgets. The only indication of how much noise you are making comes from the sound of Sam’s footsteps, the player has to be able to distinguish the safe sneaking speed by skill, another example of how the game feels fun when you win but only because the challenge is not a fair one.
The last level was a bit of a disappointment, I’d expect the grand finale to be an epic test of everything the player has learned in the preceding missions which it wasn’t. In fact direct confrontation is forced onto the player several times leaving a trial and error approach to sections in the level; the games controls do little to help you in a firefight.
In conclusion, the first Splinter Cell is a very barebones pure stealth game, it demands patience but not creativity so the fun is in deducing how to get from point A to B. Efficiency and style aren’t ranked or measured but it wouldn’t matter if they were because as said earlier acting out violence will tip the scales against you thus caution and trial/error becomes the main behaviour for the player. It’s a great game but has indeed aged.