Sam Fisher back in action as Splinter Cell 3 debuts

New moves, new weapons, more co-op, better graphics - and it's on its way to the PC by the end of this year.

Remember when videogames used to be about shooting people? Or hacking them to bits with a sword, or throwing rocks at them, or even kicking them in the face in the absence of any suitable objects for bashing them about with. Not any more; for kids these days, it's all about sneaking around and avoiding their enemies entirely. Gone is the all-guns-blazing glory - it wasn't like this in my day, I tell you...

If poncing about in the shadows like a great big girls blouse waiting for the nasty men to go away is your sort of thing (and who am I to judge your hobbies, eh?), you'll no doubt be overjoyed to hear that Ubisoft is going to be showing off the Ubisoft Montreal developed Splinter Cell 3 for the first time at E3 this year, and have given us two screenshots (and a lovely piece of artwork of a man about to get his neck broken) to whet our appetites.

Now, you're probably thinking the same thing as I am; what on earth happened to Splinter Cell 2, then? Apparently, in their infinite Gallic wisdom, Ubisoft have decided that our puny human brains will be less confused if we think of Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow as being a fully-fledged sequel, making this genuine second outing into Splinter Cell 3.

Interestingly, the game has only been announced for the PC so far, although we expect to hear about console versions in short order, and it'll be out before the end of this year - "late 2004" is what Ubisoft are saying at the moment, so expect Sam to be ready to sneak down your chimney, plant gas grenades in your stockings and break your necks as you sleep this Christmas.

The game will apparently sport a greatly improved graphics engine, which Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot says will be "the best-looking game on any platform, period" (not to set the bar a bit high there, Yves) and Sam Fisher will now boast an extended arsenal of moves, including more stealth kills, and weapons and gadgets which include the "real weapons of tomorrow" in the form of prototype weapons systems.

The co-op mode from Pandora Tomorrow will be retained, although there's no mention of the deathmatch type play being included, and this time you'll be up against even more intelligent AI - with enemies this time able to actually remember past events rather than just returning obliviously to preset guard paths, which is a rather cool twist to the gameplay, if it works as it sounds.

In terms of the scenario, the team has kept Splinter Cell bang up to date with current affairs, and the action - set in 2008 - revolves around a set of information warfare attacks which originate in North Korea, with Sam Fisher penetrating enemy territory to take on the threat.

It all sounds very interesting indeed, even if we still don't really approve of all this sneaking about in the dark like a bunch of nancies. Speaking of a bunch of nancies, our boys in Los Angeles will almost certainly be reporting in with more Splinter Cell 3 details later in the week, so keep 'em peeled...

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