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Feature: The 6 Best Splinter Cell Missions
by Chris Hawke

You remember Splinter Cell, right? The old-school versions? The hard-as-diamonds, gruff-voiced stealth classics that depended on you sticking to the shadows as Lambert guided you with his soft advice? Those were the days. Since Splinter Cell: Conviction is arriving on the 16th April (For PC users, it's another 2 weeks after that - boo!), we thought we'd invite you on a trip down memory lane in our nostalgia car, remembering those wonderful days when all you needed to feel safe was a cassette of Michael Ironside's voice.

6. Komodo Shipyard, Komodo, Indonesia
Game: Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow

We'll start the journey with the most atmospheric level from the second installment. Komodo Shipyard - or as you probably know it, the 'Submarine' one - is the perfect example of how a stealth game should work. Starting off in the long grass outside a shipyard, you must avoid sniper beams, sneak past the lounging security, hold a technician hostage (a staple of any Sam Fisher outing), bring up a submarine and download some data, before storming off into the sunset in a dingy. Ahh, the life of an operative.

5. Cargo Ship
Game: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory is arguably the best Splinter Cell out there. It added the ability to customise your loadout, and had really, really pretty graphics. The second mission, Cargo Ship, brought those qualities out best, with the new night-vision proving invaluable and little twists like not being able to shoot in the engine room adding tension and variety. The beautiful night-time infiltration reminds us why we love Splinter Cell: the sneaking around and knocking out. And Michael Ironside. Sigh.

4. GFO Oil Rig
Game: Splinter Cell

The original PS2 classic, released in 2002, would you believe. OK, the helicopter is really misshapen, and the sunset looks more like someone accidentally put the orange filter too high, but if you're put off by that, you're missing the point. This was when you first felt like Sam Fisher. Knee high in crude oil, stalking an encryption key in a suitcase handcuffed to an unfortunate technician, who we always killed. Hey, espionage is dirty. This was the moment you realised that as long as you stuck to the dark places, you were a God.

3. Shanghai
Game: Splinter Cell: Double Agent

Yep, we'd be the first to admit; Double Agent was pretty bad. Not utterly unplayable, but... painful to play. However, as dreadful as the framerate was, it didn't distract from the Shanghai view - a stunning vista of the largest city in China, complete with reflecting rivers, moving cars and - when you rappel the building - fireworks. Shame the rest of the level was a bit rubbish, but still; that view...

2. LAX International Airport
Game: Splinter Cell: Pandora

Airports and terrorism never mix well in this post-9/11 world, so it's amazing that Pandora Tomorrow managed to slip in an awfully good final mission involving an outbreak of smallpox and LAX. After hitching a ride in the back of a lorry (THAT's hardcore, man), you do the usual of sniping terrorists and hiding bodies until a final showdown with Soth (bad dude) in which to stalk the catwalks above the airport, cracking his goons' necks until you finally cut his life short and save the day. The best bit has to go to the heartbreaking scene where an office worker, staying late to man the phones, gets a bullet to the face from a terrorist if you say hidden. Even if it cost us a chunk of our health bar, we'd always rush in, stab the killer, and save that poor man.

1. Hesperia Railways, Paris to Nice, France
Game: Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow

Not just the greatest Splinter Cell mission, but one of the best missions in gaming, this fantastic level sees Sam work his way along a night-train to Nice in order to speak to Norman Soth (at this point, still a good guy). Having spent a lot of our childhood on similar trains, Ubisoft absolutely nailed the look and feel of a French night-train, and such brilliant parts as narrowly avoiding an oncoming train while clinging on to the side of the locomotive, or turning off the lights and legging it through a sleeping carriage, made it truly exciting. The bright glow of the authentic rooms, and the deafening noise of the rails as you crawl on the underbelly of the Paris to Nice, inches from the track, make this the best Splinter Cell mission ever.

Special Mention: Nuclear Plant
Game: Splinter Cell

This PS2 exclusive mission saw Sam Fisher rocking the white latex as he hid in the snow in order to infiltrate a Nuclear Power Plant.

So, those are our favorite missions. We're sad to see the back of retro-Splinter Cell, with Lambert and Spies vs Mercs, but we also can't wait to see in which new directions the game will take us when Splinter Cell: Conviction hits 360 on April 16th, and April 27th for PC. If you've got a favourite mission, add it to the comments!


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- Chris Hawke

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