Splinter cell

"Splinter cell" redirects here. For the sleeper cell system, see Clandestine cell system.
This article is about the Splinter Cell video game series. For the first video game in the series, see Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (video game). For the novel with the same name, see Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (novel).

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
Genres Action-adventure, stealth
Developers Ubisoft Montreal
Ubisoft Shanghai
Ubisoft Toronto
Publishers Ubisoft
Aspyr Media
Platforms Xbox, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Mobile phone, N-Gage, Mac OS X, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 3, iOS, Nintendo 3DS, Android, Windows Phone, Wii U
Platform of origin Xbox
First release Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
November 17, 2002
Latest release Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist
August 20, 2013
Official website splintercell.com

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is a series of award-winning action-adventure stealth video games the first of which was released in 2002, and their tie-in novels. The protagonist Sam Fisher is a highly trained agent of a fictional black-ops sub-division within the NSA, dubbed "Third Echelon". The player controls Fisher to overcome his adversaries in levels based on Unreal engines that were extended to emphasise light and darkness as gameplay elements. All the console and PC games in the series were critically acclaimed, and the series is commercially successful. The series, along with Assassin's Creed, is considered to be one of Ubisoft's flagship franchises,[1] selling more than 22 million copies as of June 2010.[2]


Year Title Developer(s) Platform(s)
Sony Microsoft Nintendo Other
2002 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Ubisoft Montreal
Ubisoft Shanghai
Java ME
2004 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow Ubisoft Shanghai
Ubisoft Annecy
2005 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Ubisoft Montreal
Ubisoft Annecy
2006 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Essentials Ubisoft PSP
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent Ubisoft Shanghai
Ubisoft Montreal
Ubisoft Annecy
2010 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction Ubisoft Montreal
Windows Phone
2013 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist Ubisoft Toronto PS3 Windows
Wii U
  1. The PS3 versions of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory are HD remasters (showing more resemblance to the PC version of the games indicating direct ports) included in the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Trilogy collection.
  2. The 3DS version of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory is entitled Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D.
  3. Compatible with Kinect Sensor.


Aggregate review scores
As of October 21, 2013.
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Xbox) 92.49%[3]
(PC) 90.16%[4]
(PS2) 88.07%[5]
(GC) 86.82%[6]
(GBA) 77.28%[7]
(Xbox) 93[8]
(PC) 91[9]
(PS2) 89[10]
(GC) 89[11]
(GBA) 77[12]
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (Xbox) 92.37%[13]
(PS2) 86.74%[14]
(PC) 85.28%[15]
(GC) 80.40%[16]
(GBA) 67.18%[17]
(Xbox) 93[18]
(PS2) 87[19]
(PC) 87[20]
(GC) 78[21]
(GBA) 68[22]
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (Xbox) 94.02%[23]
(PC) 91.44%[24]
(PS2) 89.27%[25]
(GC) 81.10%[26]
(3DS) 53.74%[27]
(NDS) 51.46%[28]
(Xbox) 94[29]
(PC) 92[30]
(PS2) 87[31]
(GC) 81[32]
(3DS) 53[33]
(NDS) 50[34]
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Essentials (PSP) 58.22%[35] (PSP) 58[36]
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Xbox) 89.31%[37]
(X360) 85.12%[38]
(PS2) 84.40%[39]
(PC) 81.32%[40]
(PS3) 78.94%[41]
(GC) 64.00%[42]
(Wii) 61.36%[43]
(Xbox) 89[44]
(X360) 85[45]
(PS2) 84[46]
(PC) 80[47]
(PS3) 78[48]
(GC) 64[49]
(Wii) 61[50]
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (X360) 86.39%[51]
(PC) 82.54%[52]
(X360) 85[53]
(PC) 83[54]
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist (PS3) 85.45%[55]
(X360) 83.81%[56]
(PC) 80.12%[57]
(WIIU) 78.60%[58]
(PS3) 84[59]
(PC) 83[60]
(X360) 82[61]
(WIIU) 74[62]

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell was developed in 2 years after which it was published and released by Ubisoft for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Windows, and Mac OS X in North America on November 19, 2002. It uses an Unreal Engine 2 that was modified to allow the light-and-dark based gameplay. A HD remastered edition of the game was released on the PlayStation Network in late 2010. To date the game has sold over 3 million copies and won IGN's Best of 2002: Xbox Game of The Year.[63]

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow

Pandora Tomorrow was developed by Ubisoft Shanghai and introduced multiplayer gameplay to the Splinter Cell series. In single-player mode, the game AI adapts to adjust to the player's skill level.[64][65]

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Ubisoft Montreal was again responsible for the third game in the series, Chaos Theory. It adds a cooperative multiplayer mode.[66] Originally announced to be released in Fall 2004, its initial releases were made at the end of March 2005. Again the Unreal Engine was heavily modified, this time from version 2.5.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Essentials

Essentials extends the Splinter Cell series to the PSP platform. Through a series of flashback missions, the player learns more about Sam Fisher's back story. The game's critical reception was much worse than the other games in the series. While the graphics were considered high-quality for the PSP, the multiplayer was considered almost unplayable. The game was also criticized for not being able to be played on the go, because it requires a dark environment.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent

For the series' fourth installment, two separate versions were created, one for generation six consoles and the Wii and the other for Xbox360, PS3 and PC. Double Agent features a "trust system"[67] that presents the player with moral dilemmas. It is the first game in the series with a hub like area, where Sam can explore and do objectives between missions. This is also the only game in the series to have different endings, based on player decisions. Only one ending is used to continue the storyline.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction

Conviction was officially announced on May 23, 2007 when Ubisoft released a trailer for the game. The game was due for release on November 16, 2007.[68] However, the game missed its initial launch date, and on May 19, 2008, it was reported that Splinter Cell: Conviction was "officially on hold" and that the game had been taken "back to the drawing board".[69] Ubisoft announced that the game had been pushed back to the 2009–10 fiscal year.

At E3 2009, the developers confirmed that the "new" Conviction had been in development since early 2008, commenting that "the gameplay has evolved a lot" and "the visual direction is simply much better".[70] The game's release date was pushed back several times.[71][72] On March 18, 2010, the demo was released for Xbox 360.[73]

Ubisoft wanted to make the fifth game more accessible.[74] so Conviction was designed around the new core elements "Mark and Execute" and "Last Known Position", while stealth elements present in the previous games were omitted, such as the ability to whistle, lock picking, hiding bodies, etc. Conviction uses a cover system and adds simple interrogation sequences to the series.[75]

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Main article: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist is the sixth installment in the Splinter Cell series developed by Ubisoft Toronto and published by Ubisoft and was released on August 20, 2013. Splinter Cell: Blacklist boasts new features combining gameplay from Chaos Theory and Conviction. Series veteran Michael Ironside was replaced in his role as Sam Fisher by actor Eric Johnson. In the game, Sam Fisher has been appointed as the commander of the new "Fourth Echelon", a clandestine unit that answers solely to the President of the United States. She has denied any existence of the agency and Fourth Echelon is working to stop a new terror plot known as the 'Blacklist'. Fourth Echelon also has the secondary objective of stopping all operations in which Third Echelon is still running. Features returning include a moving "Mark and Execute", Sam's signature goggles and a new knife, the Karambit, and the ability to perform "abduction" stealth melee takedowns.


Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (2004)

Splinter Cell[76] is the first installment of a series of novels based on the successful video game series. It was written by Raymond Benson under the pseudonym David Michaels. The plot follows Sam Fisher as he investigates a terrorist group called "The Shadows" and a related arms-dealing organization named "The Shop." Members of "The Shop" use inside information to attempt to kill "Third Echelon" members, including Fisher. Shortly after its publication in December 2004, it spent 3 weeks on the New York Times list of bestsellers.[77] It also made it to the list of Wall Street Journal mass-market paperback bestsellers.[78]

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Operation Barracuda (2005)

In Operation Barracuda, which was released on November 1, 2005, and which also made the New York Times bestseller list, Raymond Benson (again as David Michaels) continues the story of the first Splinter Cell novel.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Checkmate (2006)

For Checkmate, Grant Blackwood took over as author behind the David Michaels pseudonym, Benson having declared that he was "finished with Splinter Cell".[79] Unlike the first two books, Checkmate is not written from the first person perspective of Fisher, nor does Checkmate continue the running subplots that were established in the previous. This novel was released on November 7, 2006. The book starts off with a ship by the name of Trego sailing towards the American east coast. Sam Fisher is called in from a training mission to disable the ship. After Fisher stops the ship from disemboweling the American west coast with nuclear waste he is informed that a town by the name of Slipstone has just been radioactively attacked and 5,000+ people are dead. All these events lead to more questions which eventually leads Fisher to Ukraine, Iran, Dubai, and Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Fallout (2007)

On November 6, 2007, Fallout, was published, Blackwood's second Splinter Cell novel and the fourth in the series. The story follows Sam Fisher as he combats Islamic fundamentalists who have taken over the government of Kyrgyzstan.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (2009)

Main article: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (novel)

Conviction,[80] is the tie-in novel to the game with the same name. It was published on November 3, 2009 and was written by Peter Telep under the name David Michaels. In this book you follow Sam Fisher after the killing of Lambert. Fisher is on the run and has 'gone rogue.' He is being chased by a team of rookie Splinter Cells led by Ben Hansen. Tales of treason and betrayal are being heard about Sam throughout the underworld. He will not let Lambert die in vain as he travels around the world untangling intricate plots of murder, espionage, and international arms dealers.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Endgame (2009)

Endgame[81] is the second tie-in to the Conviction game. It covers the same events as the Conviction novel from the point of view of Fisher's antagonists which began as he tries to find the true killer of his daughter. It was published on December 1, 2009. Told from the perspective of Ben Hansen and the rest of the pursuit team, you can see how close they were to catching Fisher. The events reveal a plot of international intrigue.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist: Aftermath (2013)

To be published in October 2013, this tie-in novel will take place after the events of the videogame Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist.

"Eccentric billionaire Igor Kasperov owns one of the most influential and successful anti-virus software companies in the world. But when the Kremlin orders him to unleash a catastrophic computer virus against the United States, he is forced to flee for his life. Sam Fisher and Fourth Echelon are charged with finding Kasperov and presenting the American president’s offer for political asylum. Because there are others looking for Kasperov. And the only thing they will offer him is a swift death."

Blacklist Aftermath will be written by Peter Telep and will be the first in the series to be authored without the use of the David Michaels pseudonym.

Fan fiction

Splinter Cell: Extinction

Splinter Cell: Extinction is a fan-created series to celebrate the Splinter Cell franchise. Released on YouTube, it currently has one full season containing 8 episodes. It is not affiliated with Ubisoft and in no way represents their original work.

The series was created by Companion Pictures and was released under the IGN name on YouTube. The company has left a teaser at the end of the series hinting to Sam Fisher's entrance into this series, next season.[82]


Splinter Cell film

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, and Assassin's Creed, according to Ubisoft, are planned to be made into films. Ubisoft has stated that "We want to keep ownership, retain control over the film content, and we're open to work with studios on the development of our projects, and eventually collaborate on the pre-casting, pre-budget and script."[83] Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures are the frontrunners to make the film version.[84] It has been announced that British actor Tom Hardy will be playing Sam Fisher in the adaptation.[85] Eric Warren Singer will be writing the film.[86] Ubisoft announced that they'll be working with New Regency to make the film. Basil Iwanyk will be producing the film through his production company Thunder Road.[87]

Common elements

Plot and themes

The first game explains that "Splinter Cell" refers to an elite recon-type unit of single covert operatives (such as Sam Fisher) who are supported in the field by a high-tech remote team.

In the first three games (Splinter Cell, Pandora Tomorrow, Chaos Theory), terrorists are planning attacks, usually by use of information warfare, which Sam Fisher, an operative for Third Echelon, a secret branch of the NSA, must prevent. The missions range from gathering intelligence to capturing and/or eliminating terrorists.

In the fourth game, Double Agent, Fisher assumes the identity of a wanted criminal in order to infiltrate a terrorist ring.

The fifth game, Conviction, starts after events in the conclusion of Double Agent: Sam has abandoned Third Echelon. When he discovers that the death of his daughter Sarah had not been an accident (as had been purported at the beginning of Double Agent), he strikes out on his own in search of those responsible until Sam's investigation uncovers a conspiracy within his old agency.

In the sixth and most recent game, Blacklist, Third Echelon has been disbanded by the President of the United States. A new outfit, Fourth Echelon, is formed by the President and placed under the command of Sam Fisher with the mission of stopping the Blacklist attacks and the organization behind them.

Trifocal goggles

A device used for seeing in the dark features strongly in the series. Originally, Tom Clancy had rejected the idea of Sam Fisher having these "trifocal goggles", having stated that such goggles (with both thermal vision and night vision) were impossible to make. The creators argued that having two separate sets of goggles would have made for awkward gameplay and convinced Clancy to allow it. This also gave the Splinter Cell series a recognizable signature, a desirable feature.[88] Chaos Theory added a third view that shows the path of electricity in the area, mainly electrical cables and any device that has electrical power, like TVs, computers, etc. Conviction allows a third module to be accessed, a sonar module that can scan through walls for interactable objects, such as weapons, people, and consoles.

The trifocal goggles however, didn't remain completely fictional. In 2004, Northrop Grumman produced and delivered one such device. The device, called Fused Multispectral Weapon Sight (FMWS) was capable of combining thermal and intensified imaging.[89] Later in 2007, ITT Industries developed another such device, designated AN/PSQ-20.[90]


The characters of the games, as well as the organization "Third Echelon", were created by J. T. Petty. The main recurring ones are:

  • Sam Fisher is the main protagonist of the series. The character ranks 24th on the "Guinness Top 50 Video Game Characters of All Time" list.[91]
  • Irving Lambert, leader of "Third Echelon", serves as the player's guide by leading Fisher through the games' missions, until he is killed by Sam in Double Agent.
  • Anna Grimsdóttír is portrayed as an official Third Echelon hacker and analyst, who helps Fisher when technical obstacles need to be overcome. In Conviction she takes over the role of guide from the deceased Lambert; her character also becomes the source of dramatic tension in the story.


The encouraged way to progress through the games is to remain hidden, select non-obvious routes, and utilize diversions to pass guards. The first game in the series only features a single-player mode, Pandora Tomorrow introduces a two-on-two multiplayer mode. Chaos Theory further develops that mode and introduces a cooperative mode. Cooperative mode plays similarly to the single player mode, but adds situations that can only be overcome as a team. The cooperative storylines in Chaos Theory and the sixth generation version of Double Agent parallel those of Sam's actions in the single-player modes, letting players act on information he obtained or provide support in the field.

Double Agent introduces a morality factor: Fisher may now encounter conflicting objectives between his superiors and the terrorists. For example, the terrorists may assign a mission to assassinate someone, while the NSA simultaneously instructs the player to prevent the assassination. This creates a delicate balancing act between gaining the trust of the terrorists and fulfilling the mission assignments. In addition, Fisher must not do anything to reveal to the terrorists that he is a double agent (such as let himself be seen with an NSA gadget), otherwise he will lose instantly.

Conviction utilizes a much faster and more violent form of stealth action gameplay than previous games in the series. It retains the cooperative multiplayer mode of the two preceding games. The weapons that Sam Fisher uses are based more accurately on current real-world weapons which behave accordingly and all weapons can be upgraded by a points system. This points system is secondary to the main storyline and is achievement based. These points may be used to add silencers, sights, upgraded ammo, laser targeting and other upgrades, with up to three upgrades per weapon. This game provides an interactive mission update sequence that is built into the levels themselves. Instead of getting an objective-bar popup, the objective may appear in bold white text on the side of a building or in front of a barricade. This adds to the immersion and keeps the HUD uncluttered. The stealth element of the game allows Fisher to hide in the shadows and become almost invisible. Guards may be assassinated by unsuppressed or silenced weapons, gadgets, or hand-to-hand combat. After successfully completing a hand-to-hand kill, the player is provided with an 'execution' bonus, which allows the player to mark two to four targets (depending on the weapon selected) such as enemies or objects, and trigger the execution animation. Fisher will then dispatch all targets within a few seconds in an extraordinary fashion. Interactive interrogation cutscenes where Fisher beats up a target for information do not require the player to do anything other than press [Interrogate]. Though if the player happens to be near an interactive object like a television or table, Fisher may use that to alter the standard animation.

Development and history


According to Splinter Cell series producer Mathieu Ferland, the original game was developed so that Ubisoft's Montreal studio could demonstrate its full potential.[63] After Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, "special ops was the natural next step" for Tom Clancy-endorsed games.[63]

Graphics and technology

The first game in the series modified the Unreal Engine to allow the light-and-dark-based gameplay style.[63] The other games continued this, using updated versions of the engine.

By the release of the latest game – Blacklist – the engine had been upgraded to the LEAD engine, a heavily modified version of the Unreal Engine 2.5. The game had active shadows on all consoles not simply as a graphical function – as in most games – but as a gameplay enhancer for the sake of the game's stealth features. This meant that more coding for the game was required and overall, required a powerful desktop computer in order to get the best clarity and performance.


External links

  • Quotes from the Splinter Cell games
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.