Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell XBox

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Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
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Combining the stealth, tactics, and action popularized in both the Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon franchises, Splinter Cell represents a new Tom Clancy series featuring a single character instead of the team-oriented play found in Red Storm's successful squad-based shooter games. The title alludes to the secret organization players are part of, an offshoot of the NSA called Third Echelon, whose members rigorously serve to protect America using whatever means necessary.

Players embark on a series of nine missions to eliminate potential security threats by covertly infiltrating and destroying the data and communications critical to cyber-terrorist operations. The lead character, Sam Fisher, must conduct his missions without being detected, or risk being disavowed by his agency and left to his own devices. A key feature in the game is a horizontal stealth meter, which changes according to Fisher's overall visibility within a level. Players must stick close to shadows, avoid light, and move silently or else patrolling guards will sound the alarms and attack.

While Sam is equipped with a silenced pistol, bullets are limited, so players must decide whether to shoot an enemy or to save ammo for shooting out lights or video cameras. Bodies left in the open can be spotted, so care must be taken to relocate them to a more inconspicuous locale. Since the game is played from a third-person perspective, players have a varied selection of moves with which to guide Sam Fisher. He can crouch, mantle onto objects, climb, shimmy, roll, rappel down buildings, and grab enemies, as well perform splint jumps up narrow corridors, drop attacks, or position his back to the wall to hide, peer around corners, or shoot a target. Fisher can even move hand over hand or pull his legs up to crawl along a pipe or similar object.

The nine missions each begin with a cut-scene detailing the story in a CNN-like news report. Players will receive their objectives via voice communication during the game and can refer to their wrist-mounted Palm computer for notes and details on their mission. Data such as door codes can be downloaded from terminals located within the region or on guards, and additional gadgets such as sticky cameras, gas grenades, lock picks, laser microphones, a night vision headset, and wall mines can be used to help. More items are available for specific missions, ranging from infiltrating the CIA to exploring a police station, Chinese Embassy, Georgian Defense Ministry, and more. Additional missions can also be downloaded via Xbox Live.

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