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Splinter Cell: Double Agent hands-on

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Sam Fisher's heading off in bold new directions in Splinter Cell: Double Agent on Xbox 360 and PC, but the current-gen hardware just isn't strong enough to support his open-ended new adventure. So instead of simply trying to strip down the big, open battlefields and daylight runs of Double Agent for the PS2, Xbox and GameCube, the developers took an unusual route: make a whole new game.

The current-gen Splinter Cell: Double Agent shares its next-gen cousin's plot - secret agent Sam Fisher goes undercover to foil a terrorist group, and has to make moral choices that either aid the government or his cover - but the similarities end there. The levels and weapons are different. Even the onscreen displays are different, with multiple meters for light, stealth, sound and health replacing the next-gen version's single, color-changing indicator light.

We've been able to play through a few stages of the PS2 version of Double Agent, and so far the gameplay is classic Splinter Cell, with Sam skulking around in the dark and shooting, grabbing or non-lethally knocking out guards as they patrol their pre-set routes.

There are some cool new touches, though, not the least of which is the ability to hang from ledges, whistle at guards to draw them near and then tug them over the edge. Double Agent also features a hacking minigame, a pistol attachment that neutralizes cameras, teamwork with a computer-controlled partner and neat environmental hazards you can use to torment guards.

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