31/07/2014

postmodern warfare

Recently played my way through the Splinter Cell HD Trilogy. A stroll through the early history of everyone's favourite stealth series that isn't Metal Gear Solid. It holds up surprisingly well as a lean, mean, taut stealth machine. More games should have Michael Ironside in them. Hell Splinter Cell should have more Michael Ironside in it now that he's tired of video game voice acting.
It's a series where you sneak through the dry and dusty avenues of Tom Clancy World! You'll know it when you see it. Clandestine antics, a suspect world-view and a mostly bland set of characters free of character. If you're unsure what exactly the plot is here, general rule of thumb dictates there's usually a conspiracy against Freedom or America or 'The West'. Think straight to DVD action flick but quieter. So very quiet, dark too.
No one pays for electricity here, certainly not the bad guys but then your standard issue nogoodnik obviously is too consumed with their vendetta of the day to actually illuminate their surroundings. Naturally this gives rise to all the sneaking and espionage and subterfuge that comes with the territory courtesy of one Sam Fisher. 

Ah Sam Fisher, disavowed elite anti-terrorist whose presence cannot be confirmed or denied on foreign soil. You know the gig, he's the scalpel, the sharp tip of the war machine when and where it can't afford to raise the volume. The most human-like figure in the entire enterprise and that's only due to said voice acting. Elevates it just a smidgen above the expressive power of polystyrene but only just.

Seriously I can't overstate just how generic the world of Splinter Cell is. Outside of the core gameplay I could barely summon one lone fuck from the depths of my imagination throughout the entire trilogy. As I've said its no Metal Gear Solid lacking as it does the more eccentric charms of that particular series. Its trying to be all uber-real, authentic and gritty in a way that's entirely uninteresting to me. The end result is a world more static and less layered than the real one.

But that sneaking, that sense of tension as you navigate the pitch black with nothing but your night vision goggles and your wits for protection, that still holds up I think. Solid game design that doesn't age this game nearly as badly as its post millennial techno thriller pretensions. So on the last word is it worth a recommendation? Yes it gets one. Dodgy subtexts aside, when it works it works. The early years of Sam Fisher: Neocon Ninja gets the nod, now go play it.