I’m either just about done with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater or totally done with it, now ready to bounce back to focusing on putting Queen Brahne and her big queeny bum in their respective places in Final Fantasy IX. That said, my recent time of crawling lovingly slow through tall grass or donning a gator mask and gently wading through a marsh past enemies has reaffirmed that I love stealth games. Sure, I don’t love them as much as I enjoy roleplaying games, especially the Japanese ilk, but I’d put them right under there in the number two spot, rubbing shoulders with point-and-click adventures.
Glancing over both my tangible collection of games and ever-growing digital stash, I realized I have a ton of stealth games still to play, still to compare to Snake’s skills and style from the Metal Gear series. Oh, and for those following along, the next three to conquer–Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes–will be all new to me; I hope I can get through them in time for the recently announced release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain this upcoming September 1.
Let me talk briefly about a few other stealth titles that I’m champing at the bit to try, but am resisting in order to not take on too many games at once. Hopefully I can experience all of these sooner than later.
A recent PlayStation Plus freebie for March 2015. CounterSpy is a 2.5D side-scrolling stealth game from Dynamighty, with a stunning, stylistic look. It comes across like you’re playing a Cold War propaganda poster. It’s not a traditional stealth game, but I’m looking forward to sneaking through enemy bases and stopping nuke launches without anyone being the wiser. It sounds like some of the camera angles can be problematic.
Another freebie for PlayStation Plus users, though I don’t remember if I downloaded it this year or late last year. Oh well. I have it on my PlayStation 3, and though many reviews were critical of Thief and disappointed in how it turned out, I still want to give it a try. The idea of shooting out torches with “water” arrows is amusing.
Let me come clean: I have not given Dishonored a fair shake. I have the game in two forms actually: the “Game of the Year” edition for PlayStation 3 and a free digital copy on the Xbox 360. Yup, I bought the game and then a few weeks later got a free copy. Whatever. I only really played it once and found the first true mission–where you have to eliminate High Overseer Campbell–a real disappointment. The stealthing is so clunky and finicky, and I totally flubbed my way through it, murdering more people than I preferred for a silent assassin. Maybe I’m terrible at Dishonored, or maybe I need more practice.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell
I’ve never read any of Tom Clancy’s Sam Fisher-driven books, but they seem like solid action-lead espionage adventures. Interestingly, the primary focus and hallmark of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell , especially the gameplay for the first game in the series, is a heavy emphasis on light and darkness. Players are expected to use shadows to their advantage. This sounds like a fun mechanic, similar to Snake’s reliance on camouflage in the jungle. Plus, I’ll take any chance I can to don thermal goggles and spot hot bodies from afar.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Look, I know that XCOM: Enemy Unknown is more of a military turn-based tactical alien invasion/planetary defense strategy game than anything strictly stealth-oriented, but there does appear to be some elements of stealth in the gameplay to appreciate. I’ve never been a huge fan of the RTS genre, but there’s something intriguing about this one, something that I did enjoy in Fire Emblem: Awakening–permadeath. That risk/reward of popping out from behind a rock and not instantly evaporating an alien, which results in your named soldier buying the farm.
Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark
Originally called Stealth Bastard Deluxe: Tactical Espionage Arsehole, the renamed Stealth Inc is yet another PlayStation Plus freebie that I downloaded and then never played. Its gameplay has been likened to both Metal Gear Solid and…Super Meat Boy. Not sure how the latter of that comparison works, but I’ll give it a whirl nonetheless. It seems to come packaged with a serious case of attitude, too.
Though I had a horrible time with Hitman: Blood Money, I still have a few more to try, such as Hitman 2: Silent Assassin and Hitman: Contracts. I’ve also only played the first level of Hitman: Absolution, so, much like how I treated Dishonored, I need to dig into this one a little more. I am a big fan of taking Agent 47 and dressing him up in a range of colorful costumes to get him through a scenario, but some of the mechanics from those earlier titles are a bit too wonky to grok. Like tossing coins and strangling dudes with wires, both of which I imagine are extremely important to master in order to remain undetected.
Lastly, there are some intriguing stealth games coming out later this year, such as Volume from Thomas Was Alone‘s Mike Bithell, Invisible, Inc. from those fine folks at Klei Entertainment that previously amazed me with Mark of the Ninja, and probably some others I either don’t remember or know they exist yet.
As you can see, there’s plenty of material for me to crouch-walk my way through, even if it takes me an eternity. If you can think of any other great stealth games I should try out, let me know, and I’ll add them to my mental list.
I’ve never called myself a great fan of the stealth genre, but I find myself playing quite a few of them – probably because many of them, like you said, are popping up as freebies on PSPlus. Still, I’m currently making my way through Thief, and have become quite a fan of CounterSpy. I think what really appeals to me about those titles, like Dishonored, is not so much the gameplay as the setting and overall atmosphere of Victorian Steampunk or 1960s Cold War/Manhattan propaganda. The importance of the right setting, in my opinion, can’t be understated.
As far as one you’ve missed out on: Have you tried Alien: Isolation? For my money, it’s hands-down the best game I played during 2014 – but be warned, it’s absolutely terrifying (unless you’re one of the few whose opinions I’ve read that it didn’t work for, in which case you’ll probably hate it). But most definitely worth checking out, if you’re at all into the horror/thriller genre.
Hmm, I think I would definitively check out Alien: Isolation once it drops in price. Come to think of it–is it available on previous gen? I like most of the movies, but I’m kind of a wuss and might be too frightened while that alien stalks me through air ducts.
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