Metal Gear Solid may have popularised the stealth action genre but I’ve always thought that the Splinter Cell series did it better, with all the post-modernism thrown out and a fully 3D camera, which I find essential to any game requiring the awareness of your surroundings that a stealth game does. The camera was the main reason I gave up on MGS3, as without the radar but with the anachronistic camera I found it frustrating beyond belief to have to keep switching to first person to see beyond the top of the screen.
Pandora Tomorrow expanded on the first game and added that fantastic multiplayer mode, but suffered from annoying difficulty spikes that detracted from things. By handing development back to the original team for Chaos Theory, we got significant improvements to the gameplay as well as some of the best graphics of that generation. The campaign was long and had variety (the Seoul level is a particular standout moment, and its setting in an urban war with you as a neutral shows similarities to MGS4), and the way that you were ranked on your ability to go undetected and avoid killing anyone encouraged perfectionism that’s unusual for me, actually getting me to go back and replay the game when I’d finished it.
When you factor in an improved version of the multiplayer and an entire co-op campaign with online play, this is one of my favourite action games ever made. Splinter Cell Double Agent is going to have a lot to live up to now and I really hope it can manage it.