PC gamers on this side of the pacific sure loved their Tom Clancy shooters at one time. Games like Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six bought tactical shooting fans joy, more so than they did when ported to consoles. However, in the early part of last decade, UbiSoft used the Tom Clancy license to create something altogether different: A stealth action game partially inspired by Konami’s Metal Gear Solid. The result was Splinter Cell, a game which told a story of political intrigue and deception, and rose to become one of last generation’s biggest franchises, while making its star, Sam Fisher, one of gaming’s biggest action heroes.

Sam Fisher, a special agent known as a Splinter Cell is sent to Russia by his employer Third Echelon to investigate the disappearances to two CIA agents who were investigating a conspiracy involving Russia’s political cabinet. When the two agents turn up dead, Fisher eventually discovers evidence that could lead to an impending disaster. Stealth is of the utmost importance in this mission. Thankfully Fisher has a handful of tricks and gadgets he can use to complete the mission while avoiding enemy contact. Unfortunately, most levels will end in a game over if Sam triggers the alarm three times, so most of the stages turn into exercises of trial and error. Of course, when you do make it through the game’s levels, it’s a god feeling. It’s particularly fun to use gadgets like the sticky camera to spy on enemies before taking them out.

Each of the three console versions of the game had an exclusive feature. Gamecube players could link up thier Game Boy Advance and use it as a radar a’la Metal Gear Solid, and had access to a new weapon (the sticky bomb). PS2 gamers received a new intro, an exclusive level, and new cinematics, while Xbox players received three downloadable missions, making it one of the first console games to receive downloadable content. Last year, Splinter Cell, and its first two sequels were given the HD re-release treatment as part of a PS3 3-pack.

As innovative as Splinter Cell was, its sequels continuied to add even more innovations to the series. Pandora Tomorrow introduced adversarial multiplayer, Chaos Theory introduced co-op multiplayer mode with it’s own storyline, while Double Agent and Conviction, the games in the series released for this console generation, added their own touched to the franchise. If you have yet to play this game, now is a great time to do so. Splinter Cell remains one of the best stealth action games of any console generation.