Posted on Jul 21st 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (GrayGhost81)
Posted under review

For part three of my Tom Clancy on the Wii series, I'm taking a look at Splinter Cell: Double Agent. This is the fourth installment in the main Splinter Cell franchise and it is the third one I have played, although the other two were the games released after this one. In effect I have been playing the series in backwards order. There were actually two different versions of this game developed by Ubisoft back in 2006. As you may guess, the Wii version is in the less technologically advanced of the two groups, but does that make it a bad game? Not at all. The motion controls almost do though.

In this game we take the role of super spy Sam Fisher doing spy things for the NSA. In the first mission of the game, Fisher is abruptly pulled off his task by his superior and shortly informed of a family crisis that leaves him understandably distraught. To take his mind off things, Fisher is offered a mission to go undercover, and this is where the mechanics of the game begin to tie in to the story in very interesting ways. From the moment you go undercover, your choices and actions within the game begin to affect a loyalty meter that slides back and fourth between the JBA (the bad guys) and the NSA (the good guys). Sometimes the meter moves based on major story events, but it is also affected in general based on how stealthy or lethal you are. For example, kill a lot of the JBA thugs and the meter will slide closer to NSA loyalty. Kill some public servants and it goes the other way. These kinds of changes in the meter take place at the close of each mission, where things such as optional objectives and kills are tallied up. This is great because the meter never becomes distracting, and gives it more emphasis when it comes up during actual gameplay.

Gameplay sample courtesy of John GodGames

Fans of the series or stealth games in general will find a lot to like with this title. Brute force is inadvisable and careful sneaking is encouraged. The series' signature light meter is present here, encouraging the player to remain in darkness.  There are many weapons and gadgets available, but I found myself relying on the silenced pistol or shock rifle the most. There is also a jammer on the pistol that is absolutely crucial for disabling cameras and trip lasers. It is best to play carefully and not get caught because the game gets harder the more you mess up. More lasers will activate. More cameras will start scanning the area. At a certain point, mines will start exploding in a seemingly random fashion for instant death, almost as if the game is saying "okay, you're done messing around."

The main issue with this game, for all that it offers, is the sad fact that the only way to play the Wii version is with motion controls. Now, as a die-hard Wii fan, I can be accurately accused of being a motion control apologist. However, I know when they suck or are otherwise inappropriate. Although I didn't have any major issues completing the game on the Wii, I think I would have enjoyed the Playstation 2 version a lot more. For the Wii, you control Sam's movement with the stick on the nunchuck and looking and aiming is controlled by pointing the Wiimote at the screen. The controls themselves are not too bad, but they don't make sense in a game like this. Luckily, you can save anywhere. This led me to a kind of trial and error gameplay style punctuated by "run like hell" moments where I just tried to get the game to checkpoint or trigger a cutscene in a moment of frustration. That is how I know so much about what happens when you fail in this game!

Splinter Cell: Double Agent, is a good game, but I cannot recommend this version of the game for play on the Wii except as a history lesson for a time when Wii development was characterized by adding motion controls where they didn't belong. Grab the game on the Playstation 2, Gamecube, or original XBOX and you'll be in for a decent time.

This concludes my series on the three Tom Clancy games on the Nintendo Wii. In summation, Ghost Recon is a grossly underrated blast of a co-op light gun game that belongs in any Wii owner's library. H.A.W.X. 2 is a surprisingly robust arcade style flight simulator that falls short in big ways, but is worth a try for a low price.  Splinter Cell: Double Agent (the 6th generation version) is a good game, but you should play it on something other than the Wii. Thank you for reading!

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Good write-up, Shawn. I am also a bit of a motion control apologist like yourself, and I think many folks jumped on the bandwagon of hating on Wii controls because it was cool to do so, not because they actually hated those controls. I also agree that some games, like this one appears to, simply shoehorn the motion controls in, whether they make sense or not. On the surface, aiming with the Wiimote seems like a logical thing to do, and that mechanic is one reason why I think Resident Evil 4 works so well on the platform, and that makes it my preferred version. But it's not appropriate for all games, and if it's not well implemented, you're absolutely right - it makes the experience worse overall, especially if there's no option for standard controls. I have this one on the original Xbox, however, so I might have to give it a go on that platform. I remember trying to play the original a number of years ago, and failing at being stealthy in even the tutorial missions, so I wonder how much this game follows that pattern.
Thanks for reading Josh! Resident Evil 4 is a good comparison here. You can tell that's what they were going for but unlike RE4 I was left wishing I could just use a controller.

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