Oh, snap! Splinter Cell 3 (working title) came out of the box right before the E3 onslaught, and made such a splash that the line to catch a glimpse at it grew longer and longer as word got out amongst the hungry conventioneers. Sam Fischer is doing more sneaking about, but this time he’s looking sharper, moving more quietly, and trying not to be seen in some of the most well-realized environments yet.

Much of what gamers have become used to with the series has stayed the same – stealth kills, ceiling-pole grabs, and basic sneaking are all present. Keeping that low profile, as always, is the way to succeed. But the tension’s been upped a bit, largely due to environments that simply shine. Immaculate, reflective surfaces and stark, shadowy courses are certainly a jump from the previous Splinter Cells, despite their own historic ground-breaking quality. Weather effects even get a kick in the rear, with a brilliant usage of lightening as a stealth obstacle, and raindrops that create realtime splashes in puddles.

Along with some new single-player moves, which includes a bevy of different and very innovative uses with a knife, there will be multiplayer available for those wanting to snap the necks of their friends WITH a friend. Voice chat is in effect, and during the demo, we all got to see how effective two spies working together really rely on each other to reach the end of their singular objective. Whether it was a quick boost up a high wall, a repel up the side of a building (with the lateral assist of a spy on the roof), or one spy hanging from the ceiling by a cord length controlled by the other spy, cooperation is key, and certainly an enhancement to the already diverse environmental puzzles.

Level design also looks like several very interesting dimensions have been included, from the rocky river ravine in a jungled area, to the crawlspace under a dojo bench. What’s not to love about so many things so familiar? This next Splinter Cell title will definitely please as much as either of the previous titles, and with a character as naturally placed as Sam is within the stealth action genre, finding it appealing will be a no-brainer.

-Tim Eller