What Happened to All the Stealth Games?

Blink and You'll Miss Them

With the upcoming release of Sucker Punch Productions’ game Ghost of Tsushima, a game that will have a lot of stealth elements, I began to wonder what happened to all of the stealth games and franchises. Why had they just ceased to be a thing?

I’m a child of the 90’s so growing up I was able to play amazing stealth titles such as Syphon Filter, Spinter Cell and Metal Gear; the big three when it comes to stealth games.

Syphon Filter – Eidetic -1999

Syphon Filter was a game franchise made by SIE Bend Studio, (formerly Eidetic). The first game of the franchise released in July 1999 and had players play as special agent Gabriel Logan or “Gabe.” The developers intended on creating a new super-spy game revolving heavily around stealth, action, and puzzle solving as well as having a very immersive story.

Syphon Filter Street Screenshot

Syphon Filter was very innovative for it’s time. Tense action sequences paired well with freedom of choice during combat. If you wanted to sneak around you could. If you prefered running that was also a viable option. Syphon Filter was well received by fans and critics alike and spawned five more games in the franchise.

All of the games received an above 50 score on Metacritic with the highest being the original Syphon Filter with an average of 90 and the least being Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain for the PlayStation 2 which received a 65. To this day I hope for an announcement about a Syphon Filter remaster or new entry.

Players should be able to experience those games as they were a big part of the gaming world in the PS1 era. The last release of Syphon Filter was in 2007. It is about time for a new release in the franchise, whether that is a remaster of the old game or an entirely new game. Gabe is fondly remembered and I hope for his return.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell – Ubisoft – 2002

Splinter Cell

Splinter Cell is another stealth game that has just disappeared with it’s last release; Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist (2013). Although we did have a cameo of main character Sam Fisher in a mission in Ghost Recon: Wildlands, we can only speculate as to whether this is a hint to a possible return to the franchise? I hope so. The Splinter Cell games have been well received and I believe it’s one of very few franchises that does not have a outright bad game in the series.

The original Splinter Cell was released in 2002 by Ubisoft for the PS2, Xbox and PC and was a major success. The game focused heavily on stealth and let players explore many creative ways to stay in the shadows. Lights could be shot out to help with hiding, players could stretch across a wall above enemies if there was nowhere to hide or if it was a tight corridor. A light meter is attached to Sam’s clothing that shows players how concealed they are. Players also had access to the game’s signature night vision goggles to help with seeing in the dark and staying hidden. Later in the game, players would receive a gun that allowed several gadgets to be fired from it, including sticky camera’s that you could stick to a wall and distract an enemy or even shock rounds that would temporarily stun enemies. Killing was a very last resort in Splinter Cell and could often get you spotted. After the release of Splinter Cell, five more games would be released in the franchise and like I said above all of these games are amazing especially the latest game, Splinter Cell: Blacklist. All of the Splinter Cell games have received scores of over 80/100 on meta critic with the lowest being the PS3 version of Splinter Cell: Double Agent that received a 78/100.

I believe it’s time for Splinter Cell to come back; it’s the perfect time for a new stealth game especially since there aren’t really any stealth games to compete with at the moment. My favourite of these games is Splinter Cell: Conviction.

Splinter Cell Conviction Wall Objective

Ubisoft changed the way the game played with the release of Splinter Cell: Conviction in 2010, they added the Mark and Execute system which would allow players to instantly kill targets in certain situations. They also added a last known position mechanic that would show players a marker of where the enemies last saw them. One of the main changes with Conviction was the objectives being placed on walls etc, so instead of going into a menu to look at your objective it would be placed on a wall.

Metal Gear Solid – Konami -1998

Metal Gear is a series that is close to my heart. I first fell in love with the series after playing Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation One. This game was different to anything that had ever came out at that time. Metal Gear was very much a stealth based game. You had to sneak past guards, camera’s etc. Mechanics like walking in the snow or water would leave footprints that would attract guards. This and knocking on a wall to attract a guard to your location were things that were not really explored before in other games at that time. If a player was spotted by a enemy this would trigger an alert mode in which an alarm would go off and the player would have to remain undetected for the alert to clear. The players radar would also be jammed during this alert stage so this added to the tense situations.

metal gear solid

Players would take control of Solid Snake who was a infiltrator and a saboteur. He’s the guy you send in if you need to get information on something and remain unnoticed. Snake had a lot of different ways that he could remain undetected, he could use cover on walls, go prone under areas or even hang from ledges. Metal Gear has had a lot of games released since the PlayStation One version and they hold amazing scores on meta critic the highest being Metal Gear Solid 2: Son’s of Liberty with a score of 96/100 and the lowest being Metal Gear Rising: Revengance with an 83.

I would love for another Metal Gear game to be released, the last released Metal Gear game was created by Hideo Kojima. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was released in 2015 and in my eyes is probably the best game of the franchise although not my personal favourite. I believe that people need to play at least one Metal Gear game in their life as they will not come across another game like it. They are unique and there’s a reason why they are held in such high regard and loved so much.

References between the games:

There are also moments within them where they mention characters from these games. For example, a mini game in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater called Snake vs Monkey was a crossover between Metal Gear and the Ape Escape game and in this there is a radio call where Snake says, ” Why don’t you make Sam or Gabe do the job”, referencing Sam Fisher and Gabriel Logan respectively.

In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory there is a reference to Metal Gear. If Sam captures an enemy and asks him questions about ammo, he responds with “It’s not like you can shake me and make my ammo fall on the floor” Referencing the way players can receive ammo in the Metal Gear games.

One of the latest references to Metal Gear was Sam’s cameo in Ghost Recon: Wildlands in which Sam mentions that they don’t make them like him anymore, then mentioning that there was another guy from army infiltration that wears a bandana.  He is told that he finally retired, referencing Snake from Metal Gear. This is also a very sad scene as Sam replies with “so it’s only me” and it really hits home knowing that he is the only one left out of the three.

A reference video for these games can be found here.

I love these references in the games as it shows that these three games were the main stealth games at the time and now none of them are around.

With all this being said I think stealth games needs to make a comeback, the gaming world is filled with action games and I think that its time we created some new stealth games because there is still an audience for them.

Personally I’d love to see a Syphon Filter Remastered and a new Splinter Cell game. Of course I would love to see Metal Gear make a comeback but I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon.


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Matthew is a Writer from the North-East of England. He is a huge fan of the Metal Gear Franchise and enjoys single player story driven games.

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