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Splinter Cell: Double Agent Preview

As PC gamers, we're well acquainted with the Splinter Cell world. With stealth-em-up hero Sam Fisher the constant thread through the games we've seen released - the original, Pandora Tomorrow, Chaos Theory - we rather know what to expect from a new Splinter Cell game.

Ubisoft, the game's publisher, is hoping to mix it up a little with the next in the series, and wants to shake us out of our Sam-Fisher-Comfort-Zone. With diverse gameplay types and a shift in focus, the new Splinter Cell, out in September, could well be a surprise to gamers everywhere. However, not content with new versions for consoles and PC, Ubisoft is also putting out a PSP version of the game for portable sneaking.

With the recent release of loads of new info from Ubisoft in the run-up to the game's outing, we thought it would be a good idea to sit down and share with you what we know.

Note: the Xbox 360 screens on the next two pages can be enlarged.

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The plot

The game is officially called Splinter Cell: Double Agent. The name is a hint at the theme of the game - Sam Fisher is going underground to try and infiltrate a terrorist group called John Brown's Army. To do so, he gets planted in prison, befriends a member of the group and then organises a breakout with him. He then joins the terrorist gang and attempts to bring it down from the inside.

Ubi is adamant that a lot more of the game is going to be story driven this time around. Players are going to get a lot more involved with Sam's life, and there is even a love interest. Why does plot matter? Because the game will branch, story wise, in a manner it has never done before. You will be given choices to make in-game, and those choices will affect the course of the story - think Knights of the Old Republic or even Deus Ex. Near the beginning of the game, you'll be asked to kill an innocent journalist to prove your loyalty to the group, which you can either do or not. Further on through, you'll be asked to choose between the lives of thousands of innocents or the woman you love. Some missions will allow you to be more 'rogue' than others, and all these factors will combine to make the game far more involving than previous outings. The branching storyline should also give plenty of opportunity for re-playability.

The platforms

The game is out on GameCube, PS2, Xbox, PC, Xbox 360 and a variant will be out on PSP. The PC and Xbox 360 versions will be, to all intents and purposes, the same - with the PC looking as good as the 360 if you have a high-end rig. The current-gen console versions will pretty much look as you expect. The PSP... well, we'll come to that.

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