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The Future of the Fourth Echelon

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Top secret CIA missions, violence and a battle hardened American spy. What’s not to love?

Splinter Cell is one of gaming’s most notable and loved gems. It brought the tactical stealth gameplay genre into the mainstream of the sixth console generation (don’t worry Metal Gear, we still love you!) and really pushed the boundaries both visually and narratively for the time. So where and how did Splinter Cell become a gaming phenomenon?

It all started with a partnership between a man called Tom Clancy and Ubisoft (then known as Ubi Soft Entertainment), the developers of the series. Clancy was world renowned for his military and tactical espionage novels, capturing readers with his immersive and unique storytelling. Inspired by his work, Ubisoft Montreal decided to develop a game based on the stories in Clancy’s novels and bring them to life on the big screen… well gamers’ screens anyway. I, along with many others, really enjoyed the classic SC games and being young at the time, was able to grow up alongside the franchise.

The main point of the Splinter Cell was to allow the player to sneak around without being caught, taking out enemies as they progressed through the campaign missions. A big part of this was due to the emphasis created by light and darkness, which added to the overall environment and tone of the gameplay. Along with this franchise, the character Sam Fisher was born, who would go on to become a household name within the gaming community. Fisher, like most spies, has an U.S. Naval background, serving with the SEALs during the period of bad blood between the United States and the USSR. For the longest time, Fisher was voiced by actor Michael Ironside until he was recast by Ubisoft in 2013, when the latest installment “Splinter Cell Blacklist” was released. Ironside’s likeness has been portrayed in 8 games in total, spanning over the course of 16 years from 2002 to 2018: Splinter Cell (2002), Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (2004), Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (2005), Splinter Cell: Double Agent (2006), Splinter Cell: Conviction (2010) and the latest release being Splinter Cell: Blacklist (2013). A handheld port called Splinter Cell: Essentials was released exclusively on the PSP in 2006.

In Blacklist, this would be the first time Fisher wouldn’t be played by Michael Ironside. Understandably, a lot of SC fans weren’t happy with the recast citing that new candidate Eric Johnson couldn’t pull of the same vocals and feel. However, with Ironside being in his mid sixties at the time, Ubisoft defended the choice as the motion capture would’ve required strenuous physical activity. Personally, I enjoyed Blacklist the most as I think it offered a realistic approach towards modern combat and secret CIA sanctioned missions in the 21st century. The game looked visually appealing and even compared to the graphical capabilities of today, I think Ubisoft wanted to push the boat out to make sure Blacklist was a great game with a compelling plot and many many twists in between. Sadly, in 2013, Tom Clancy passed away but he left a legacy among the community that no gamer will forget. Ubisoft continue to brand their TC games under Clancy’s name as a tribute.

So what’s next for the Splinter Cell series? A lot of fans may believe that Splinter Cell is dead in the water, given the fact that it has been almost 5 years since we’ve seen an iteration in the series. Well fear not! Sam Fisher will be making his way back onto our screens! Ubisoft recently released a trailer on YouTube, which seems to show a crossover between the Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon universes. Once I saw the iconic green lit goggles appear on screen, I got excited for what Ubisoft had in store for fans. They then went on to release details of “The Call” in the Ghost Recon Wildlands “Special Operations 1” DLC.

Not only that, but the big cheese, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot responded to circling rumours about a new Splinter Cell game saying I can’t say much about that. But, for sure, all the Clancy games are taken care of. It’s just we have quite a lot on our plate at the moment…All the Clancy games are really coming along, so we are not forgetting Splinter Cell”. In response to a further question, he addedWe don’t have anything specific to share at the moment but teams are working on different things, so stay tuned for more”. So get excited folks, we could be seeing an announcement or better yet, an official trailer for a new title in the not so distant future. I definitely can’t wait to hear more as Splinter Cell is one of my favourite game series of all time.

I’d like to hear your thoughts! Do you think Splinter Cell should be left behind and confined to the generations of a bygone era or should the series continue to develop into bigger and better storytelling blockbusters? Don’t forget to keep an eye out on TheXboxHub for all the latest news on Splinter Cell!

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