Sam Fisher and Splinter Cell as a console and gaming legacy turned 20 years old this week and it looks like the extraordinary partnership between Ubisoft and the Tom Clancy IP is set for a remake that is not hiding its ambition.
As fans watch the next installment of the Splinter Cell series evolve with the Splinter Cell Remake, the Ubisoft team has been diligently releasing content around the development of the game. However, a Splinter Cell Remake release date is still undetectable and is hopefully in the cards for 2023.
This week, in celebration of Splinter Cell’s 20th year, some of the Splinter Cell Remake creative team from Ubisoft and industry guests share memories and insights on what the franchise was, is, and will be.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell has been a staple for Ubisoft in the mountain of Tom Clancy narrative tactical games – Rainbow Six, Rainbow Six: Siege, Ghost Recon, et al. The Splinter Cell IP, on the broad shoulders of the series’ central character, Sam Fisher, alone has yielded more than a half-dozen AAA titles.
“This is a game that, for many, re-defined the third-person stealth-action genre,” said Xbox’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb. With next-gen technology becoming more and more incredibly immersive, the re-imagining of a stealth-genre masterpiece like Splinter Cell deserves that modern-era treatment.
“Today, with Splinter Cell Remake, we can use a lot more of the rendering and processing power to create some really compelling and detailed settings and also spend some of that processing power towards our AI archetypes as well,” said Creative Director, Chris Auty.
The new title will fully use Massive Entertainment and Ubisoft’s proprietary Snowdrop engine – quickly becoming a standard platform, particularly for Ubi’s third-person action titles. Snowdrop boasts several next-gen benefits like better organic day-night transitions, procedural destruction, and volumetric lighting behaviors.
A remake with tons of potential
Technical Director, Christian Carriere says, “With Snowdrop we now have the tools to produce advanced lighting, transference from different materials [sic]. We can also have much better audio simulations. We can have audio occlusion where the sounds will get absorbed by different material types… bouncing through a window, around corridors… a much more realistic audio setting.”
Sr. Game Designer, Andy Schmoll refers to the pivotal “cat and mouse gameplay between Sam and the enemies” and how important advanced AI and enemy reactions will be to creating dynamic stealth and cover mechanics.
Fondly, Associate Level Design Director, Zavian Porter shared some of his most iconic moments from the Splinter Cell experience and how different the stealth experience and availability of multiple options for completing objectives will be brought back into the Splinter Cell Remake.
“You can see the evolution of level design over the course of the franchise, from the original… the players navigating through a building up a zipline, down a vent – the player rarely had options how to proceed,” and how it changed with Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. “The Bank level, my favourite level, gives the player this breadth of options to proceed through this very non-linear layout [sic]. We want to bring back those level design principles from Chaos Theory to the original Splinter Cell.”
What it means for gamers
Fans and new entrants to Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell series can expect a whole new, re-imagined, and next-gen tech-infused experience in the franchise. I’m personally looking forward to going back through the series and re-introducing myself.
Use of the evolution of even the Snowdrop engine means a proper treatment of an otherwise ‘ahead of its time’ stealth action title. Many of the things we expect as gamers today – from raytracing, dynamic lighting, modern graphics, action, and multiple paths to completion will be in play for the Splinter Cell Remake.
While I know a lot of gamers are less than enthused that we (still) won’t receive a net new installment in Sam Fisher’s story, the creative team behind the Splinter Cell Remake seems intent on promising a completely new experience with the upcoming title. For now, Sam and friends will return to the shadows for a bit, as the team states they will be “going dark for the next little while” to focus on making the best Splinter Cell game they can.
Sounds like we have plenty of time for a re-play of the series to refresh our memories.