After years of making fans suffer, Ubisoft finally announced in December 2021 that Splinter Cell is, seriously and for real, coming back in a full remake that it promised will accommodate the “refined palate” of modern gamers. Courtesy of a Ubisoft Toronto job listing spotted by PlayStation Universe, we’ve now got a slightly better idea of what that means.
Rather than a straight-up remaster of the original Splinter Cell, producer Matt West said when the remake was announced that developers are “[re]building it from the ground up” while trying to ensure that “the spirit of the early games remains intact.” A visual overhaul is obviously in the cards—sorry to tell you this but Splinter Cell is 20 years old—and some design elements are also being redone “to match player comfort and expectations.”
“We’re going to be straddling the line between the spirit of the old and the comfort of the new, so that we can excite and surprise new players but also make sure that when our returning players pick up the controller, they have that sigh of relief, saying, ‘Ahhh, they got it’,” West said at the time.
But along with updates to technology and accessibility, the job listing for a Splinter Cell scriptwriter indicates that the story is also going to be extensively rejiggered.
“Using the first Splinter Cell game as our foundation we are rewriting and updating the story for a modern-day audience,” it states. “We want to keep the spirit and themes of the original game while exploring our characters and the world to make them more authentic and believable. As a Scriptwriter at Ubisoft Toronto, you will join the Narrative team and help create a cohesive and compelling narrative experience for a new audience of Splinter Cell fans.”
It’s been a long time since I played Splinter Cell so I can’t say I recall any aspect of the game that leaps out as being in immediate need of change. But the world itself has changed over the past couple of decades, and Splinter Cell’s complicated mix of ex-Soviet strongmen and Chinese renegades (and the inherent jingoism of Tom Clancy’s worldview in general) probably wouldn’t go over with a broad audience of gamers now as well as it did in 2002. Nor, for that matter, would it make a hell of a lot of sense: Georgia, the country at the center of Splinter Cell, was an independent nation in 2002 but has been under partial Russian occupation since a 2008 invasion.
An updated story is fine by me. I don’t consider the original Splinter Cell narrative to be such a classic of storytelling that it needs to be preserved in amber for all eternity. What I am somewhat hung up on is the possibility (likelihood?) of a new voice actor for the lead character. Michael Ironside embodied Sam Fisher to perfection in my ears, and I’m just not sure I can accept anyone else in the role. (And yes, I brought this up when the remake was announced, too. I am very serious about it.)
But that’s a far-off concern for now. There’s still no indication of a release date, and if Ubisoft is still in the process of nailing down the story, I expect it’ll be quite a while yet before we hear anything solid.