It's been more than a decade since the original release of Splinter Cell. Does the game still hold up as one of the pioneer hardcore stealth games to this day? ...Yes, yes it does.
You play as Sam Fisher, a Splinter Cell in the secretive OPs agency known as 3rd Echelon. You are shadow, invisible, a ghost...and an excellent infiltrator. Should you be captured, you would cease to exist to the general public. With the credo realized, you must play this game as if the light will burn you alive. You will slowly creep through various locales finding ways to circumvent guards or silently take them out. You are provided a generous amount of tools and gadgets to help you in this cause. Be it sticky cameras, wall mines, to snake cameras...you will always find a use for the tinkets possessed by Sam.
The game is pretty unforgiving in terms of stealth. There are 5 ratings of exposure to light you can be in at once and depending on your current position will determine how fast a guard realizes it is a bionic commando versus a mosquito buzzing around. There is also an invisible noise detection level which varies depending on the surface you creep upon. You can flatten yourself against a wall to be even more hidden and use distractions such as light switches to pull unexpecting guards to their sleepy fate.
One aspect that still amazes me is that you can sneak through most levels without ever touchin a guard or being detected. Granted, since this game needs to have a little bit of variation from the normal stealth routine...you'll find yourself in a couple of mandatory shootouts. These occurances are few and far between and help break the typical slow creep and crawl you'll be doing through most of the game. Music and sound play a big part with music dynamically ramping up in intensity when guards are becoming alerted to your prescence to heavy rock when a battle is unavoidable. Ambience of halogen lights and crickets chirping as well as cars passing by will be your typical tune when you are a ghost.
Techincally speaking, the game looks great if you do a few simple tweaks in the game's .ini files. I personally could not see the CG cutscenes without sacrificing my graphical tweaks but just watch them on YouTube and you'll still get the full effect. A small price to pay for 1080p and anti-alising. The game runs stable at 60fps and looks fairly decent for its time. Volumetric lighting and partial physics exist here.
I can fully recommend Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell for anyone looking for an actual stealth game where slow and steady certainly and almost always wins the race.