Splinter Cell put to the test - sneaking with Sam Fischer
He has an athletic body, a distinctive masculine face and a deep voice: Sam Fisher is the type of woman who could faint in a row. Unfortunately, almost no one gets to see him - and the only people who go to the ground near him are villains of all stripes. Sam is namely the best man from "Third Echelon", an ultra-secret subgroup of the American intelligence service NSA - and the hero of the 3D action game Splinter Cell. There is a lot for him to do: When the fictional Georgian President Kombayn Nikoladze wanted to conjure up World War III through global acts of terror in 2004, Super-Sam was sent out to put an end to the hustle and bustle.
On Microsoft's Xbox, Agent Fisher made sure that Splinter Cell became one of the best-selling console titles to date. On the following pages we will reveal to you why the game on the PC is also exceptional and in many ways even better than the Xbox version.
Shoot or Shock?
Your first assignment will take you to a police station in the Georgian capital Tbilisi to look for two missing CIA agents who should keep an eye on Nikoladze and his gang.
You will then undertake the following missions on an oil rig and in the Chinese embassy in Burma. Sam also infiltrates a software company and even the CIA headquarters, where a mole is relaying classified information to the terrorists.
The 24 levels are designed so that you always have several options for solving a problem. In the software company, for example, you have to pass three villains who have prepared the passage in front of you with a sticky mine. Now you can either defuse and bag the explosive device, or bypass the obstacle and kill the enemy from ambush. On the other hand, it is much cooler to first lure the louts by detonating the sticky mine. As soon as the opponents are on their way to you, shoot a nearby aquarium and electrify the resulting puddle with an electric shock - of course only when the enemies bathe their feet in it, unsuspecting.
Every now and then, however, small logic errors disturb the otherwise flawless level structure: For example, the developers want you to infiltrate Nikoladze's software company Kalinetek through a glass roof. The alternative route across the facade is blocked: you can be shot through a window one floor higher, but Sam firmly refuses to crawl through it into the building.
Load on your shoulders
During the missions you are always connected to two colleagues via radio. Your boss Lambert and the agent Grimsdottir will give you useful hints and cancel the mission if you have triggered the alarm too often or if you have killed an innocent person.
Occasionally, the two of them change the mission goal in the middle of the action. Then suddenly, instead of just poking information from a PC, you have to kidnap the entire owner of the computer from the CIA headquarters. Circling through a building full of (actually friends) special agents with an unconscious man on his shoulders, who are not allowed to find out anything from you, is really not easy - but incredibly exciting. But before you guide Sam through the nine missions to put Nikoladze down, you should complete the two training rounds in a special level. You will be familiarized with the most important tricks and acrobatic tricks of the agent.
Sam from all sides
The control of Splinter Cell is not an annoying ex-and-hop implementation of the Xbox version, which requires a gamepad. In fact, hero Sam is even tamer on the PC because, for example, shooting positions are easier with a mouse than with an analog stick - at least for experienced computer pistoleros.
You steer the hero through the levels as much as possible in the usual way. Instead of controlling the direction of gaze and walking with the mouse, you use it to determine the position of the completely free camera around Sam. So you can also peek into corners that Sam can't actually see yet. Exception: If Sam is shimmy around a pipe or rope and you pan the camera so far that you can see him from the front, he turns and climbs back. The speed control is particularly successful: Sam's speed can be set continuously using the mouse wheel. If he needs a quick run to jump over a nasty abyss, turn the mouse wheel far forward. If you want him to sneak down a metal staircase as quietly as possible, send the man into a crouch and turn the mouse wheel backwards a little.
The only minor annoyance is the laborious change of equipment: If you want to switch quickly from hand grenades to weapons, you have to call up the inventory, select the pistol with the mouse and then pick it up by pressing a button. The quicksave function, which is always available, is very useful: Even on the first of the two levels of difficulty, Agent Fisher's assignments are sometimes extremely difficult.
All movements of the agent are fluid. We find his 25 special moves plus ten other actions particularly impressive. Would you like a small selection? Fisher overcomes extremely high obstacles with a double jump. Abysses are overhanged on pipes or ropes. The special thing about it: Sam can pull out his pistol dangling from one arm and aim at opponents below.
Even nicer: With a split jump, it wedges itself between two walls near the ceiling and thus ambushes enemies in order to literally stab them in the back. Pressed close to a wall, it squeezes through the tightest cracks or peeks around corners without being seen. It looks very cool when Sam slowly sneaks up on an enemy from behind to take him into a headlock. Occasionally you will work up a sweat yourself because the villains often feel the need to turn around just when you are about to grab it. Once you've got hold of the adversary, all you have to do is press a button to interrogate him or send him to the land of dreams. Sometimes, while conscious, you have to drag the brat to the nearest retinal scanner to open a locked door.
Rubber rings for the CIA
In contrast to James Bond, Sam's equipment is not that crazy recently, but it has already been tested for usability by real agents. The centerpiece is the three-lens special viewing device, which serves both as a residual light amplifier and a thermal imaging camera. With it you not only spot enemies in the dark of night, but also recognize anti-personnel mines and laser traps.
Fisher only has two lead blows: a silenced pistol and an all-round sniper rifle. When zooming in on the gun, hold Sam's breath with the touch of a button to give the shot more precision. With the rifle you can fire, among other things, electric shockers, mini cameras and even rubber ring projectiles, which only incapacitate enemies hit. Because depending on the mission, Sam only sometimes has the license to kill. It is clear that he can defend himself against trigger-happy terrorists, while his colleagues from the CIA should definitely survive the visit of the super agent alive.