Most fans will agree that after Splinter Cell Conviction, the Sam Fisher we had loved started to change. A change many of the fans from the first games did not appreciate. With the new Splinter Cell landing sometime in 2019, we decided to write a wishlist of what we’d like to see in the new game. With the rumor mill already fired up, this Splinter Cell 2019 Wishlist is what it would take for us to bring Sam Fisher back from the dead.
“You’re getting sloppy, Sam”
Landing in Hell Denver, defying the POTUS (which sounds heroic today), running on the ledges like a cat (and faster than one, too), silently crossbow(ing) enemies left and right… makes the blood stir, right? The problem with these action sequences for me is that they’re used to pump up a game which made its fame and identity on some other qualities. They feel almost out of place.
It was all about the action in the latest, sixth installment of Splinter Cell from 2013, the Blacklist – and that’s exactly why most of the old fans didn’t like it.
My guess is Ubisoft tried to increase the fan base with Conviction and Blacklist by changing the course of the game from sneaking to action. However the plan backfired, leaving old fans unhappy and sales lower than expected.
In this wishlist, we’ll try to include all the stuff we liked from all Splinter Cell games and see what we end up with.
“Holly Christmas, you’re at the end”
As a long time diehard fan of the series, after six installments, you’d come to think– what’s next? You saved the world, prevented wars, stopped nuclear strikes, found out that your daughter is dead, than found out that she was alive. Your organization was corrupt, so you abandoned it. Your boss ordered you to do anything to stop the terrorists, so at one point you killed your boss. Fought the Engineers – check! Infiltrated CIA headquarters – check! Damn, Sam Fisher is kind of a baddas, right? The old one, yes! New Sam is more like a jackass with all that seriousness and cheesy dialogues at times.
The old Sam was a badass, but he was also like the next-door guy you gladly said hello to when grabbing the morning papers. You wet your pants not because he is scary per se, but because you are in love with his daughter. Well, at least until Conviction. Blacklist made Sam a much darker character and we find ourselves in need to reanimate his old self. Let’s start.
Starting our Wishlist
For starters, let’s see what made the series great.
When I started playing the first part of the then newborn franchise I was overwhelmed with pride and a sense of accomplishment for being able to beat the game (hey, I was in my teens).
It was 2004 and the late afternoon of a hot summer’s day. The sun was beating at the river and raising a light haze. I was walking with my buddy back from school and telling him about beating the game, when he starts: “What! How?! I tried a dozen times to get into that stupid CIA HQ, and when I eventually made it, they spotted me every time. I still can’t get Lambert’s voice sayin’ “Damn Fisher, the mission is over!” out of my head!“
Back in the day Sam Fisher was Ubisoft’s version of Solid Snake. Using the shadows, whistling or doing all sorts of tricks to distract enemies had its charm. It made you think – how to outsmart your enemies, how to complete the mission with the best possible outcome. You felt engaged, thinking several moves ahead – almost like a chess game against the AI.
That element to the game was lost in the newer instalments for several reasons. Since Conviction, more missions were placed during daytime. That’s ok and was even needed, but we still preferred the nightly shadows a tad more. The other and more important reason – the game lost the balance between hiding and sneaking or just eliminating enemies; the game tempted the player to kill or knockout everyone.
At the same time, those who chose not to do either didn’t get the proper bonus for not alerting foes.
For me, the first Splinter Cell is like a girl you fall in love with, Pandora Tomorrow is the one you propose to and Chaos Theory is the girl you spent your honeymoon with. Conviction is like the wife you have a grudge with and Blacklist for many diehard fans was filing for a divorce.
So, the first thing on my wishlist for the new game would be: bring back the balance between hiding/sneaking and action. Moving on…
“Hohoho, chilly” – Voice acting
There are a number of characters that became famous because of the voice actors behind them. Sam Fisher is no different, thanks to Michael Ironside.
Ironside is a 68-year old Canadian and the man behind the witty remarks throughout first five games of the series. Who can forget his funny quotes? That was before Eric Johnson took over.
Johnson did a good job in my opinion (yeah, really), but he had one critical flaw – he wasn’t Ironside. His voice didn’t had the charm of Ironside – the guy who sounds like he smoked the whole pack minutes before recording started – and that benefited the character of Sam when you heard it in-game.
And since I hold the pen (who gave me the pen?) I say, Michael Ironside is on the Splinter Cell 2019 wishlist at Gaming Guide. I mean, is it reaaally possible to imagine Solid Snake without David Hayter, or Agent 47 without David Bateson?
For someone who loves the stealth genre as much as I do, hardly. When I game I want to identify with the character from that game and great voice acting makes it that much easier.
So, while Eric is great, Ubisoft please hear us out and get the old guy back. Will you? I know it’s possible since you brought him back for Ghost Recon Wildlands. Thanks!
“Remember Lambert talking about patience”
The next item on our wishlist is connected with character dynamics. Sam at the start of the series is kind of slow for a ninja, isn’t he? But that also makes him more realistic as a character due to his age.
New Sam is way quicker because the producers wanted to make the game super-dynamic. And while the tempo could have been a bit faster at the start of the series (until Chaos Theory) nowadays it seems patience is no longer a virtue (it should be in great games).
While we’ll argue about slowing the tempo a notch, it’s imperative not to confuse this with burdening the game with too much cover mechanics. The action should be fluid and not bored down with just moving from cover to cover.
So the third thing I’d like to put on this wishlist is slowing the tempo down a notch (don’t be so harsh to Fisher, respect the man’s age). I know it could potentially diminish the action momentum of the game, but hey, this used to be a stealth game and, if it is up to me, it should be again (luckily for some, it isn’t). That same momentum can be kept by replacing some of the cover mechanics with more creative ways for sneaking while on the move.
“You think your friends can shoot around you?”
One good thing that Splinter Cell 2018 can inherit from the previous one is the co-op mode.
My friends and I had a helluva time lurking and outmaneuvering the guards, completing objectives and giving them different names. I found it very refreshing and more importantly, plain fun!
Another one is the choice you have – use lethal or non-lethal force and I hail that. Adding co-op and choices on the wishlist…
Just like Ironside is the signature voice for Sam, his SC-20K rifle was his signature weapon. Ok, I understand why it had to change in Conviction, but what happened in Blacklist? He is a member of The Fourth Echelon.
I have to admit, that rifle leaves me with mixed feelings. Seeing Sam standing 20 feet from a wall and firing bullets fly where ever they want. And that aiming through a scope could occasionally be a real pain in the … ashtray. But it is still great weapon that simplifies lots of things with its complexity.
You could shoot practically any gadget from it, didn’t have to think too much how to remove someone standing in your way (if you take that road), and oh my, that sound… I wouldn’t be true to myself or the game if I didn’t put that rifle on the wishlist.
“Let me guess – three alarms and it’s over?”
“Let’s work on stealth. Your gun should always be your last resort. Invisibility is your best weapon. We’ve got a network of photocells on your outfit connected to a visibility meter on your OPSAT. If the meter hits 4, you’re lit like a Dutch brothel. At 0 you’re a ghost’s shadow“– this is how Lambert introduced Sam to a feature I call ’stealth-o-meter’.
When the missions were mostly night-time, it had meaning. You had to time your moves precisely not to be seen and heard. Levels like Sea of Ohotsk killed it because, like it or not, you ARE going to be seen.
I’d like that feature back instead of just being put on a square-like lamp on the back of Sam’s suit – adding one visibility awareness bar on the wishlist, too.
“Morgenholt and Zherkezhi are geeks, not terrorists”
The next one on the list is a bit challenging, but it’s what makes Telltale games so good. In Blacklist you find yourself in a situation to spare or kill someone more than once. But the decision itself makes no visible difference further down the game, so the question is – why have it in the first place?
Of course I like having that option available to players, but the producers could give some purpose later in the game.
One good example where they made this work is with Dahlia Tal from Pandora Tomorrow. She guides you through half the mission in Jerusalem and she (Spoiler Alert!) turns out to be an agent who sends snipers on you if you don’t kill her.
Your decisions should count and this is why they make their way to our wishlist.
One less important, but interesting feature is picking locks. People will argue about this one. Sam is equipped with lots of gadgets, so you don’t necessarily need a picklock, but picklocks have their purpose.
If you find yourself let say in Mirawa, which gadget will help you get through the classic old-school lock, a drone? Hardly. It’s not a big deal and certainly not necessary, but it has its uses. Well, enough to make the wishlist.
“I think someone is taking himself a little too seriously”
Last but not least on this list is a message to Ubisoft – learn from the success and failure of other games and incorporate the best into Splinter Cell 2018. I am talking about taking elements that would enrich the game, not make it something different.
For example, I thought the disguises in Hitman were totally awesome. Ubisoft could think of a way for Sam to sometimes infiltrate using a disguise (maybe for players who want to find a way to beat a certain level in full stealth?).
My style of play is simple – do NOT alarm, kill, or even knockout anyone. True fans like to invest time to play a game they love, and they would explore all methods to pass through a level in the manner that best suits them.
And that leads us to the last thing on our wishlist – a dynamic difficulty or enemies adapting to your style. Yes, just like in Metal Gear Phantom Pain, where it worked just splendid.
If you scare an enemy he starts making mistakes, changes the pattern of his behavior and makes you adapt to the given situation as well. Perhaps it’ll cost most of us some frustration during the process, but if coded well, it can raise the level of the whole game.
Summing all up:
Gaming Guide’s Splinter Cell 2019 Wishlist
- Find a balance between hiding/sneaking and action.
- Beg Michael Ironside back!
- Slow the tempo down a notch…
- Include co-op mode!
- Make both lethal and non-lethal plays viable.
- SC-20K rifle anyone?
- We need a visibility meter!
- Make our choices matter!
- Having a pick-lock or two wouldn’t hurt…
- If you steal, steal from the best.
“I guess the waiting is the hardest part”
Well, hopefully we’ve given you something to think about while waiting for the next game trailer. I for one really hope Ubisoft listens to its gamer base and brings us back the Sam we love, the Sam with whom we started an adventure all those years ago:
“I am a soldier. I’ve served my country for twenty years. But if I’m captured or killed, I know that nobody will come to rescue me. I won’t even get a funeral. Because the nation I protect can never admit that I exist. So my death would go unremarked, my bones would go unclaimed. I don’t know if that day will come… but I do know that it must not be today. I am invisible. I am relentless. I am Sam Fisher. I am… a Splinter Cell“.
This is a quote from the trailer for Chaos Theory which is, for me at least, the best Splinter Cell to date. It was also the culmination of the honeymoon period with the series for most of its diehard fans. Hopefully the good folks at Ubisoft will lead us back to that honeymoon phase once again. On the contrary, I’ll be one of those disgruntled husbands filing for divorce… even though I love the game.
Sam Fisher: Nice suit, Mick. Italian?
Do you agree with us? Let us know in the comments below.