YMMV / Splinter Cell

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     The Novels 
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The Shadows terrorist organization, meant to be more dangerous than Al-Qaeda and tech-savvier while even more fanatical, is actually a fairly decent approximation of ISIL.
  • Money, Dear Boy: The reason Raymond Benson wrote the first two novels.
  • Periphery Demographic: The novels have a decent-sized fanbase who have never even heard of the video games.

     The Video Games 
  • Awesome Music: During a particularly emotional scene in Conviction, the designers include DJ Shadow's "Building Steam With a Grain of Salt." It works perfectly.
    • Also, Amon Tobin's score for Chaos Theory. It captures the game's atmosphere so well that it seems astonishing that they didn't keep him on retainer for the rest of the series.
    • And lest we forget, the menu theme for Conviction by none other than Amon Tobin himself.
    • The 3DS port of Chaos Theory received a mixed reception, but almost everyone agrees that its theme song Breaking Protocol, once again by Amon Tobin, kicks ass.
    • The first game has "Common Fight" which plays when a suitably epic moment is happening (such as escaping the Kalinatek building, the showdown with Grinko in the abattoir, and the shootout in the Presidential library). Also doubles as an Autobots, Rock Out! song. Unless you were playing the PS2 or Gamecube version of the game, in which case this awesome track was only used once during the escape from Kalinatek.
    • The entire Double Agent soundtrack, Particularly the Kinshasha, Iceland, and Cozumel fight themes.
    • Blacklist has Got Yourself Locked Up on the original soundtrack. This music not only fits during tense moments in stealth and action but it's very fitting to the series as a whole.
  • Broken Base:
    • The early development shots of Conviction divided the base on the new "social" stealth aspect replacing the old light/shadow stealth. Ubisoft then went and redesigned the game to have use absolutely no social stealth and more action than previous titles. This resulted in a new split, between those who think that the action elements are fine, and those that don't.
    • Current trend in games. It pretty much followed the exact design approach as Hitman: Absolution. Someone somewhere is running round telling game designers that they need to make their games more "cover based shooter" oriented and it'll do wonders for their IP.
    • The decision to recast the voice of Sam (from Michael Ironside to Eric Johnson), and ostensibly make him look younger (though it was actually the developers needed someone else to portray because of the new motion-capture software, and for what it's worth, Ironside trained Johnson for the role) alienated some fans during the runup to Blacklist's release.
    • Which version of Double Agent is the best one: the PS2/Gamecube/Xbox version? Or the Xbox 360/PS3/PC version? With both versions being made by different divisions of Ubisoft, having completely different level designs, different gameplay mechanics, and different ways parts of the story play out, there is some debate over which one is superior. The PS2/Gamecube/Xbox version is more akin to the previous three games in terms of gameplay, while the Xbox 360/PS3/PC version introduces some significantly new elements (such as levels where Sam is out in broad daylight).
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: The Five-SeveN pistol in Conviction is the only pistol that most players use because it has the highest mag capacity of the pistols, a built-in silencer, and it's the only gun in the game that can mark four targets. The fact that you find it very early in the game and it's Sam's signature weapon also helps its popularity.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Pandora Tomorrow: Suhadi Sadono is the leader of the Indonesian terror cell Darah Dan Doa (Blood and Prayer). A member since his youth, back when it was just a street gang, Sadono once helped fight the Communist influences in Indonesia, until the CIA stopped backing them. In retaliation, Sadono used a modified strain of smallpox and places the strains in containers all over the United States, which he demonstrates by releasing the virus in Texas. While fighting in front-line battles, Sadono protects himself from capture or death by ordering smallpox to be released should he be unable to make a call to his mercenaries. Described as having a child's idea of war, seeing both civilians and soldiers as acceptable targets, Sadono is one of the most vicious and dangerous terroists Sam Fisher faced in his career.
    • Double Agent: Emile Dufraisne is the leader of the domestic terrorist organization John Brown's Army. The product of a rich traditional upbrining, Dufraisne liquidated his holdings to fund John Brown's Army. When Sam Fisher is recruited as a double agent, Dufraisne is introduced tasking Fisher to kill a helicopter pilot, who would be killed by Jamie Washington should Fisher refuse. Believing that the US government are traitors to the Founding Fathers, Dufraisne plans to topple it with his terrorist activities. His main plan was to destroy the cities of New York, Los Angeles and Nashville with bombs containing several kilograms of red mercury. To test his weapons, he plans on using one of these bombs to blow up a cruise ship. If the player manages to foil this plot, Dufraisne will kill his weapons expert, Enrica, in a fit of anger. When the police and feds finally storm his compound, Dufraisne begins his plan to destroy New York in an attempt to gain some victory in his defeat.
  • Contested Sequel: Although Conviction was generally well-received, some longtime fans of the franchise didn't like the increased emphasis on action over stealth. With Blacklist Ubisoft has attempted to find a happy balance between the action-oriented gameplay of Conviction and the stealth-oriented gameplay of earlier Splinter Cell titles and for the most part fans and critics alike enjoyed it, though quite a few fans of the first 4 games still don't like it as much as them due to the heavier focus on action (Not to the extent of Conviction, though) and the change of Sam's voice and personality.
  • Critical Research Failure: The way the first game treats Kong Feirong's name. The script assumes "Feirong" is the surname, but anyone with a passing knowledge of Mandarin will know "Kong" is the surname and Feirong is the given name. Even moreso given that in Mandarin, surnames that are longer than one syllable are unusual.
  • Demonic Spiders: PLA Soldiers in the first game. They can kill you in 3 hits even on normal mode, come in large groups, and some even have flashlights attached to their helmets making hiding in the dark useless against them.
    • Heavy Infantry in Blacklist, you can't knock them out from the front and you can't gas or shock them, sneaking up on them from behind is risky, taking them out from above or using an execute with the gas function of the crossbow are the most reliable ways of taking them down. If you go Assault, they like ambushing you from around corners and typically carry either shotguns which will kill you in 1 or 2 hits (Usually as a result of running into them in said corners) and will instantly kill a bleeding out player in co-op, or a equally annoying and dangerous Desert Eagle and Shield combo. They also soak up entire magazines from assault rifles like sponges unless you knock their helmet off and shoot them in the head. Incendiary grenades are the best option against them when going Assault, as it will kill them in one hit if they are in range of the fire.
    • Dogs in Blacklist are fast, hard to hit, and will hold you in place once they get close to you until you shake them off, making you a easy target for enemy soldiers and screwing up your combo when going Assault. They also alert and detect you much faster than other enemy types, and will smell and follow you even if they can't see you once you come within a certain distance of them, which also alerts enemy soldiers and brings them along with the dog.
  • Even Better Sequel: Pandora Tomorrow to the original and Chaos Theory to Pandora Tomorrow.
  • Genius Bonus: Some of the Gone Dark missions in Blacklist have really obscure clues as to where to go next.
  • Goddamn Bats: Drone operators in Blacklist, they themselves aren't numerous, but until you take them out, they will keep on sending drones and prevent you from using your goggles.
    • An enemy in the first two games and Blacklist will trigger Vietnam-like flashbacks for players. The freaking dogs. Who can sniff out and detect the player no matter if they are in the shadows or not.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
  • Hell Is That Noise: The sonar ping from enemy Splinter Cells in Conviction. Also, the enemy has LOS and detected sounds.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Both Grim and Lambert may qualify for what they put Sam through by pretending Sarah was dead and arranging for a body to be substituted for her, possibly killing an innocent young woman to do so. While it was ostensibly to protect Sarah and Sam, Lambert didn't hesitate to manipulate Sam's grief to his own advantage. He even admits as much. May be a case of Unintentionally Unsympathetic as its obvious the developers wanted it to be more of a Shoot the Dog than Kick the Dog once all the facts are out. Quite a few players are never able to look at the two the same way, though.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: Sam's night vision goggles.
  • Narm:
    • The Enemy Chatter in Conviction. It's quite humorous to see all these government agents and PMC mercs hunting for Stealth Expert Sam Fisher by running around, shouting at the top of their lungs that they remember what happened at the airfield.
    • In Blacklist, the phone calls between Sam and Sarah are hard to take seriously because, despite it supposed to be an exchange between father and daughter, they sound the exact same age. Which isn't far from the truth. Sarah's voice actress is actually older than Eric Johnson.
  • Older Than They Think: Conviction's critically well-received "Mark & Execute" system was pioneered in the Rainbow Six: Vegas series. Which is unsurprising, considering that the games have the same gameplay director.
  • Porting Disaster: The PC version of Double Agent. The worst of it is that Part 2 of the Kinshasha mission is almost guaranteed to crash if you try to load a save in it.
    • The Mac version of Conviction unfortunately qualifies as this as well, no thanks to Ubisoft's "Always On" DRM.
    • The Gamecube and PS2 versions of the first 3 games were horribly gutted in comparison to the Xbox and PC versions, (for the first game, it is so bad that the Splinter Cell wiki refers to it as "Version 1" (Xbox and PC) and "Version 2" (Gamecube and Playstation 2)). Because of their weaker hardware, not only is there Loads and Loads of Loading, but there were also many instances where you fight fewer enemies and some levels were reduced in size compared to the Xbox/PC counterpart. In fact, it is not much of a stretch to say that playing the Gamecube/PS2 version and the Xbox/PC versions feel like playing two different games. The first game especially: because the changes to some levels were so severe, the Gamecube and PS2 versions had to insert several additional full-motion video cutscenes to compensate and try to fill in some plot holes. example 
      • For the first game, on the PS2 side to make up for this, an extra level was added between the Kalinatek and Chinese Embassy missions where Sam investigates a Russian nuclear power plant. This is actually a plot-critical level because it reveals where General Feirong obtained the nuclear material for his missiles. But because the power plant mission is only available in the PS2 version, players of the Xbox, PC, and Gamecube versions will have no idea what Lambert is talking about when he mentions in the second Chinese Embassy mission that he has found the "missing Americium-239."
  • That One Boss:
    • Double Agent:
      • Dufraisne in Version 1. He patrols with three Elite Mooks around the bomb, has always figured out you are the double agent regardless, and it is nigh-impossible to kill or stun any of them silently beyond waiting for them to all look away or wander into total blackness. And yes, Dufraisne and co. can hear silenced weapons and launched gadgets. Even from several meters away.
      • Second part to Sea of Okhotsk in Version 1. After killing/subduing the crew, the player has to follow the captain down to the lower decks, where he is wandering with a flare on a catwalk over a huge amount of oil. He spends his time wandering around and turning suddenly, and if he either glimpses you or is defeated beyond taking him hostage from behind, he drops the flare and falls through the catwalk, destroying the ship and killing you both. The kicker? When you take him hostage, he drops the flare anyway, but it never falls through the catwalk.
  • That One Level:
    • Splinter Cell:
      • Infiltrating the CIA is a beast, because you can't kill anyone or be seen.
      • The Abattoir mission ends with Sam finding the hostages, only for Grinko and his mooks to start flooding in; granted, you have a turret to assist against them, but it seems out of place and happens pretty suddenly.
    • Pandora Tomorrow is easily the hardest game in the whole series. The game's alarm limit was so strict (in many levels, if the alarm was sounded just once, it was an instant game over) that Ubisoft did away with it in the next game and next to no-one (except those who "ghost" the games) were really complaining. The game was really bipolar on its rules-of-engagement objectives, flipping back and forth between "no casualties" and "go guns blazing" multiple times in a single mission. Below are the levels that really stand out in an already difficult time:
      • Jerusalem. For most of the level, you aren't allowed to be seen or kill anybody AT ALL. If a civilian or police officer so much as catches a glimpse of you, it's a instant game over, and the level is also full of light sources which make getting through it a nightmare. Even once you get to the part where you are allowed to be seen and kill enemies, three of them are waiting right outside the elevator for you as soon it opens and will quickly ventilate you if you don't knock out or kill them immediately, and once you get past that, depending on if you kill Dahlia or not, you have to deal with either snipers who can kill you in 2 or 3 hits and alert very quickly, or more police officers you aren't allowed to kill or be seen by.
      • Jakarta TV station. You are allowed to kill anyone and the alarm limit is at its max (which is 3). But the level is extremely dark, has a very confusing layout, and enemies are clustered in groups in each room. Being a Marathon Level doesn't help matters.
      • Dear lord, but none of them take the cake like the final level, Los Angeles International Airport. Since you are stopping rogue CIA agent Norman Soth from releasing the final ND133 smallpox bomb, if you sound just one alarm, you spook Soth and he releases the virus, meaning an instant mission failure. So you have gotten used to the whole "one alarm, mission failed" idea. You are only allowed to kill the terrorists disguised as airport employees and spotting them is pretty easy. But you have to also sneak past the airport workers, and there are quite a lot of them. One spots you, bam, instant mission fail. But the hardest part is at the end, where you confront Soth and the last 2 terroists in the catwalks. When you kill one terrorist, a timer starts and you have one minute (in the Xbox and PC versions) to kill the last two men, and still reach the virus at the top of the catwalks. They have night vision goggles and the catwalks are really dark. Plus, these guys run all over the place, meaning you have to have a really steady shot or you will miss, and that is unacceptable given the circumstances. You pretty much have to play this level perfectly to beat it.
    • Chaos Theory:
      • The Bathhouse level was really tricky with turrets, fog, and a layout that is easy to get lost in. But the part that everyone dreads is the part where Shetland sends out the Elite Mooks with THERMAL GOGGLES and extremely powerful automatic rifles, meaning the only way to get past them without getting into a firefight is to game the AI's peripheral vision and make good use of smoke grenades as they can't see you through the smoke. Then right before you confront Shetland for the final showdown, there is a part where you have to avoid him, and he can see you even in the dark WITHOUT night vision goggles. Oh, we forgot to mention, you are all doing this while disarming bombs, meaning you are on a time limit.
    • Double Agent
      • The Sea of Okhotsk level isn't very difficult to complete, but extremely difficult to get a perfect stealth score on. To elaborate: despite starting in a blinding snowstorm in white camo, Sam can barely see five feet ahead; however, the enemy can see you just fine. This is because, as far as the game is concerned, you are running around in broad daylight and fails to factor in the blizzard.
      • Also the Cruise Ship mission. Even with all the general mission difficulty aside, the end of the mission requires heading through the ship's bridge, which happens to contain 4-6 people (depending on difficulty). Did we mention this section takes place during broad daylight near very large windows and with little cover?
    • Conviction:
      • Infiltrating Third Echelon and The Russian Embassy in co-op, for being "insta-fail when detected" levels.
      • To elaborate, unlike Washington Monument where you only had to tail and eliminate the three spotters, in Third Echelon Sam has to plant C4 on the two transformers, then get to an elevator taking Sam to the reception desk. Although he can go loud after this, he then has to quickly get to the end of a hall before two security gates can come down. Even then, a good portion of this level includes long, dull periods where no enemies are about (hence no risk of detection) and it's just Sam moving about on pipes and ledges. White Box Laboratories is actually worse with the second reason despite not being "no detection."
      • Price Airfield just because while the opening rendered cutscenes are eventually skippable, the subsequent portion using in-game graphics isn't, and in the case of Price Airfield, it is long. Even when you're finally able to move it's just to smack Grim around, and then you're allowed to exit.
      • The Iraq level. While not difficult if you don't mind lethal gameplay, it feels very out of place with the rest of the game and does nothing to further the story except give us a Friendship Moment between Sam and Vic. Also, that fact that you're playing as a soldier means you lose most of your extra abilities, including Mark and Execute and there are no shadows to hide in.
    • Blacklist
      • Abandoned City. Towards its end, Commandos enter in groups while you have to hack 4 laptops, and they don't stop spawning until you're done. The very last part of the level has Sam and Briggs knocked down on the ground and forced to gun down multiple waves of commandos and drones without being able to move or revive each other, and there is a glitch where dying and reloading from the checkpoint there can stop spawning enemies after so long, forcing a full mission restart. Pray you didn't bring a sniper rifle. Also, even though there are Undetected and Non-Lethal checks for the level, they are impossible to achieve due to said shootout.
      • Private Estate. The very opening is incredibly linear, as the main courtyard must be passed through, contains a lot of artificial lighting and moonlight, and has a few guards sat around. The only way to pass through is on ground level on foot (i.e. there's no hidden alternate/climbing/vent paths like in the bulk of the game) and there's a really twitchy guard dog patrolling the place. If you ever come within it's view or a dozen meters radius, it immediately makes a beeline for you and brings a guard or two with it and, again, there's nowhere to hide or alt paths to escape to; the option is to either run for it or backtrack to the garage to hide. The kicker? The level ends with a forced alert sequence, so you're going to need as many "enemies untouched" bonuses as you can get if you want that perfect Ghost score.
      • Swiss Embassy. Unlike the other Charlie missions which are at least decently large, open and have some good hiding spots, Swiss Embassy is small, linear, and has very few hiding spots, so enemies will quickly detect you. Enemies also tend to come in larger groups earlier in this mission than other Charlie missions, and the later waves are a absolute nightmare to get through, with Dogs and Heavy Infantry everywhere in small, well-lit and enclosed spaces, which even includes Heavy Infantry HVTs with riot shields. Even worse, the enemies tend to spawn on opposite sides of the map from each other in this mission, so if you want to get a mastery in the first five waves through comboing (Possible in each of Charlie's missions) before all the painful stuff comes in, you better have some good reflexes and luck.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Although they might just be a vocal minority, some Splinter Cell fans absolutely hate the Mark and Execute feature added in Conviction, feeling that it makes the game too easy even on the highest difficulty.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Okay, the graphics are cleaner and state-of-the-art, the gadgets have improved, and the Mark and Execute function returns, so Blacklist is going to be awesome, right? One major problem: Michael Ironside is being replaced by Eric Johnson from ABC's Rookie Blue. Crying over the series being ruined and anger towards Ubisoft ensue.
    • Granted, they did have a legitimate reason to replace series mainstay Ironside. The voices are to be done in-scene using the motion capture so as to get a realistic, visceral feel, and Ironside is possibly too old to keep doing that (although he did help train Johnson for the part and gave his blessing). It doesn't stop those who don't like the change, though. Plus keep in mind that Ironside wanted to move on from the series and he stated that he was phoning in his performances as early as Chaos Theory.
    • There's also the fact that Sam seems to be bizarrely aging in reverse. Blacklist is the most recent entry in the series yet Sam not only sounds 20 years younger, he looks it too (keep in mind that Sam is a veteran of the first Persian Gulf War who also has a college-age daughter; he was 47 at the start of the series).
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Blacklist would have been a perfect time to retire the character of Sam Fisher (who is already in his fifties which stretches the believability of him still doing covert field work) and bring in a new protagonist, which have thematically made sense with the decommissioning of Third Echelon and the activation of Fourth Echelon. It also could have lessened the backlash of bringing in a new voice actor for the main protagonist. Instead Fisher is brought back again, despite Conviction being a definitive end to his working relationship with the U.S. government.
    • Alternatively, Blacklist would have worked great as a prequel to the series without having to change the final product massively. Retcon Fisher being headhunted during his Navy Seal days for a pre-Third Echelon operation, and retain the same villains and their motives albeit around an older Middle-East conflict (e.g. the Gulf War). You get a younger, more agile Fisher with an explanation for his voice change, all the "future tech" packed into the game only needs slightly adjusting to make it dated, and all of the problems are explained away down to the controversial actor swap. The only problem would be that Kobin, Grim, and Kestrel couldn't return, but none of them are so indespesible that a replacement couldn't fill their role (e.g. replace Grim with a younger Lambert, again with a different VO).
  • Tough Act to Follow: Chaos Theory is considered the best of the series for a reason. Not only was it as well written and structured as it's predecessors, it finally fixed all the awful AI problems from the last two games,ex.  removed the alerts problem (no longer game over after three), added the knife to massively change up things,ex.  added a noise meter to aid with stealth, added a remote hack to remove some fake difficulty, added the OCP and EEV vision, added different loadouts/playstyles, added CO-OP missions, and had an amazing soundtrack by Amon Tobin among several other highly praised features. It's not really surprising that Double Agent, a game that continued to pile on new features like a Karma Meter and useless gadgetsex.  and felt the need to change up the entire formula for the sake of it, was so poorly received. Of course, despite Version 2 of Double Agent (read: old generation one that was much closer to Chaos Theory in gameplay) being better received than Version 1, the series was changed up even further for Conviction, which was incredibly unpopular to say the least. While Blacklist was better received than Conviction for bringing back some of the stealth mechanics that were removed, it was still too action focused and heavily flawedex.  that Chaos Theory is still considered the better game.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: One of the reasons why the series got so much praise in the first place was its very advanced lighting engine, which holds up today even with the first game.
    • Chaos Theory was praised for its graphics being years ahead of its time. Pandora Tommorow was looking like this in 2003, and Chaos Theory was looking like this in 2005. Talk about a major leap for graphics in just two years. Easily one of the best looking video games of all time and the graphics still look state of the art.
  • Win Back the Crowd: The promised Perfectionist difficulty in Blacklist seems to be this as it is a return to classic stealth play, removing melees from the front and the Execute part of Mark & Execute, features from Conviction that may have deterred hardcore fans of the earlier games.
  • The Woobie: Many throughout the series.
    • Sam definitely qualifies as an Iron Woobie. Slips into Jerkass Woobie in Blacklist.
    • The Secretary of Defense in Blacklist. Being tortured by having his hand cut off and then having to be executed by Briggs before he can provide Sadiq with national security files. Government bureaucrats aren't usually shown with much sympathy in this series, but you just feel for the guy.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Eric Johnson, a twenty-years-too-young bit player, as a near 60 year old grizzled, charismatic, and cool-sounding Sam Fisher.
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