Sam Fisher is hardly the first modern stealth hero. But together with Snake and Garrett, they form the triumvirate of 2000s stealth espionage where the goal was to infiltrate like a shadow and spare as many lives as possible.
But as everyone knows, Sam took a detour in Splinter Cell: Conviction. Obviously, my friends and I knew Sam killed hundreds more in Conviction than earlier games combined. But we didn’t know he killed 3,900 per cent more, till we sat and counted...
Splinter Cell (2002): 3 kills
Pandora Tomorrow (2004): 1 kill [CORRECTION: 10 kills, credit to u/TGP482]
Chaos Theory (2005): 3 kills
Double Agent (2006): 5 kills
Conviction (2010): 472 kills (seriously) [CORRECTION: 418 kills, credit to u/fataldecrease]
Blacklist (2013): 0 kills
[Ghost Recon Wildlands (2017): 1 kill, credit to u/Ouka94]
[Ghost Recon Breakpoint (2019): 2 kills, credit to u/gingerbeardman79]
We documented our kill count for Conviction on video, though I understand if mods frown on links in posts. (Mods, simply remove the link if warranted.) We didn’t document our kill count for the other Splinter Cell instalments because almost all deaths occur in scripted sequences that are easily verifiable. Still, our analysis of Sam’s body count has caveats...
Sam’s takedowns in Conviction are always magically lethal (except in Lincoln Memorial).
In Conviction, a takedown with a gun usually results in a bullet to your opponent’s head, John Wick-style. You can holster your gun, but even when your takedowns don’t appear to be lethal (e.g. punching someone’s nose into their brain... okay, bad example), other hostiles refer to the downed comrade as dead anyway. Canonically, the only time takedowns aren’t lethal is Lincoln Memorial, when President
Clinton Caldwell tells you to use nonlethal takedowns to avoid killing police officers.
We ignored fights in Price Airfield, Lincoln Memorial and Downtown District.
Sam may be a mass murderer, but he’s not a bulletproof Rambo. During parts where search parties were scripted to run past where we hid, we simply ran to the exit instead of fighting, as it was safer.
Canonically, Sam killed the final boss in Conviction... unless you live in the Philippines?
Not kidding. In the finale of Conviction, you canonically shoot Big Bad Reed in the face. It seems final, right? Nobody waltzes away from a point-blank headshot in games (except Mona Sax), right?
Nope. In Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad, a Philippines-only spinoff so obscure that it still has no Wikipedia page, Reed survived execution in front of multiple witnesses and helps you in Elite Squad. This blatantly contradicts information in Blacklist, as well as common sense. Then again, many fans don’t accept Blacklist as canon either, due to its changes to Sam’s character and awkward attempt to merge Chaos Theory freedom with Conviction gameplay, rather than rejecting Conviction outright. I understand the hatred for Conviction and Blacklist, but I still feel that...
Conviction isn’t irredeemable. If you like Batman or Corvo, you’ll like this.
Sam from Conviction onward has little in common with his old incarnations. But I suspect the developers did this in response to stealth as a genre moving in a different direction, foreshadowed by games like Arkham Asylum and Assassin’s Creed. Instead of games where you’re prey that avoids hunters, you’re the predator that hunts the hunters. The developers tried to get themselves ahead of this trend by adapting Conviction accordingly, albeit in a less graceful way than predecessors like Arkham Asylum or successors like Dishonored. It’s why...
Old-school stealth in AAA games is (probably) dead, not just in Splinter Cell.
Did Splinter Cell forsake its uniqueness by moving toward predator-like gameplay? I believe an audience exists for old-school stealth, but not necessarily in numbers that will satisfy shareholders. The best compromise seems to be games like Metro where old-school shadow-based stealth is possible, but you can switch styles if you fail. Still, I’m not purist enough to think Splinter Cell would still be “alive” if Conviction never occurred. In an era where games like Dishonored do what Thief did but better, maybe Sam needs a Guns of the Patriots-like send-off so he can get closure and pass the baton to another generation. I still miss Sam, though.