From Jack Ryan to Sam Fisher
This week's major videogame release, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction, is the latest in a long line of games endorsed by Tom Clancy. Indeed, while an older generation probably knows him best as a best-selling author of spy and military fiction, and Baltimore residents may think of him as a co-owner of baseball's Orioles, the Tom Clancy name is most closely associated these days with the world of videogames.
In the 1980s, Clancy first became a household name behind strong sales for books revolving around CIA analyst Jack Ryan. Several of these titles also became movies, including the Alec Baldwin-starring The Hunt for Red October 58 and Clear and Present Danger 74 with Harrison Ford, further boosting the author's name recognition.
After conquering the worlds of publishing and film, Clancy moved into gaming in the mid-1990s, establishing the developer Red Storm Entertainment, which, among other titles, began churning out games based on Clancy properties. The developer was so successful that it was eventually acquired by publisher Ubisoft. Over the past 15 years, the Tom Clancy brand has appeared on over three dozen game titles, including the ongoing Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, and Splinter Cell series, although Clancy's actual involvement in many of the releases is minimal.
The latter series -- all stealth action titles -- gets its newest chapter this week with Conviction for the Xbox 360 (a PC version also arrives in two weeks). The first new Splinter Cell game in four years, Conviction finds protagonist Sam Fisher, formerly an elite government anti-terrorism agent, striking out on his own in search of his daughter's murderer. Reviews are generally strong, with a lot of praise for the gameplay, though several critics feel that the new game is far too short.
Here's a better look at how the new game matches up to the previous installment in the Splinter Cell series:
Where does "Splinter Cell: Conviction" fit in?
How does the newest Tom Clancy title compare to all previous releases? Let's look at the highs and lows of the Clancy game franchise. Based on the 30+ reviews collected so far, Splinter Cell: Conviction narrowly missed cracking the all-time top 10, placing 11th.
|1||Splinter Cell Chaos Theory||Xbox||2005||Ubisoft Montreal||94|
|2||Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow||Xbox||2004||Ubisoft Montreal||93|
|3||Splinter Cell||Xbox||2002||Ubisoft Montreal||93|
|4||Splinter Cell Chaos Theory||PC||2005||Ubisoft Montreal||92|
|5||Splinter Cell||PC||2003||Ubisoft Montreal||91|
|6||Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter||360||2006||Ubisoft||90|
|7||Splinter Cell||PS2||2003||Ubisoft Montreal||89|
|8||Splinter Cell Double Agent||Xbox||2006||Ubisoft Montreal/Shanghai/France||89|
|9||Splinter Cell||GameCube||2003||Ubisoft Montreal||89|
|10||Rainbow Six Vegas||360||2006||Ubisoft Montreal||88|
Not every Tom Clancy game is a winner. The average Metascore for all 78 individual titles in our database is 75.8, which indicates positive reviews -- but just barely. In fact, 29 of the 78 (37%) Tom Clancy releases received mediocre reviews, with a Metascore between 50 and 74. And two releases received even lower scores. Here are the worst of the bunch:
|1||The Sum of All Fears||GameCube||2003||Red Storm Entertainment||36|
|2||Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter||PS2||2006||Ubisoft||44|
|3||Splinter Cell Chaos Theory||DS||2005||Ubisoft||50|
|4||Rainbow Six Critical Hour||Xbox||2006||Ubisoft Quebec Studio||54|
|5||Ghost Recon 2||GameCube||2005||Red Storm Entertainment||54|
|6||Splinter Cell Essentials||PSP||2006||Ubisoft Montreal||58|
|7||Ghost Recon 2||PS2||2004||Ubisoft Shanghai||58|
|8||Ghost Recon||GameCube||2003||Red Storm Entertainment||59|
|9||Rainbow Six: Lockdown||PC||2006||Red Storm Entertainment||59|
|10||Rainbow Six Vegas||PSP||2007||Ubisoft Quebec City||60|
|Game Boy Advance||Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell||2003||77||9.7|
|GameCube||Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell||2003||89||9.0|
|N-Gage||Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory||2005||85||7.6|
|Nintendo DS||Tom Clancy's EndWar||2008||69||n/a|
|PC||Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory||2005||92||7.9|
|Playstation 2||Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell||2003||89||7.5|
|Playstation 3||Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas||2007||86||7.9|
|Sony PSP||Tom Clancy's EndWar||2008||68||5.5|
|Wii||Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent||2006||61||8.2|
|Xbox||Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory||2005||94||9.3|
|Xbox 360||Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter||2006||90||8.1|
Through the end of 2008, the entire Tom Clancy game franchise had sold more than 55 million units worldwide, a number that will grow considerably this year with the release of two major titles (Splinter Cell: Conviction and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier) and one that puts the Clancy games in the same ballpark as popular series like Call of Duty and Gran Turismo. Here are the best-selling individual releases in the series:
|Game||Platform||Year||Metascore||Units Sold (Millions)|
|1||Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell||Xbox||2002||93||2.91|
|2||Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell||PS2||2003||89||2.44|
|3||Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2||360||2008||82||2.30|
|4||Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter||360||2006||90||2.26|
|5||Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas||360||2006||88||1.96|
|6||Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon||Xbox||2002||84||1.69|
|7||Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon||PS2||2002||63||1.68|
|8||Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six||Playstation||1999||n/a||1.64|
|9||Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3||Xbox||2003||86||1.58|
|10||Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Adv. Warfighter 2||360||2007||86||1.44|
Next, let's take a further look at each individual series in the Tom Clancy franchise.
Splinter Cell series
The Splinter Cell games fall into the "stealth action" genre, centering on government agent Sam Fisher, a member of the NSA's black-ops division known as the Third Echelon. While all three of the early games in the series received strong reviews, most critics feel that the third installment, Chaos Theory, is the best in the entire series (especially that game's Xbox version).
The series as a whole has drawn more critical acclaim than any Clancy game series. The average Metascore for all console releases in the Splinter Cell series is 84; the next-best series is Rainbow Six, averaging just 76.
|Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow||2004||93||87||78||87||68|
|Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory||2005||94||87||81||92||50||85|
|Splinter Cell: Essentials||2006||58|
|Splinter Cell: Double Agent||2006||85||89||78||84||61||64||80|
|Splinter Cell: Conviction||2010||87||*|
Rainbow Six series
The oldest of the three main Tom Clancy game franchises, the Rainbow Six titles are based on Clancy's 1998 novel of the same name. Games in this series are tactical first-person shooters, centering on an international anti-terrorism unit based in England. The more recent titles in the series did away with some of the tactical elements found in earlier Rainbow Six games to the disappointment of some fans, but critics seemed to like the changes: Rainbow Six: Vegas is the highest-scoring release in the series.
|Rainbow Six *||1998||*||85|
|Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear **||1999||75||**||76|
|Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield ***||2003||83|
|Rainbow Six 3 ***||2003||86||70||68|
|Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow||2004||84|
|Rainbow Six: Lockdown||2005||74||70||72||59|
|Rainbow Six: Critical Hour||2006||54|
|Rainbow Six: Vegas||2006||88||86||85||60|
|Rainbow Six: Vegas 2||2008||82||81||78|
Ghost Recon series
Another series of tactical shooters, the Ghost Recon games focus on an Army Special Forces squad who are deployed on top-secret missions around the globe. 2006's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter impressed critics more than any other release in the series -- at least for the Xbox 360 version. The next installment, Future Soldier, is likely to surface late this year.
|Ghost Recon: Desert Siege||2002||82|
|Ghost Recon: Island Thunder||2003||81||82|
|Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm||2004||70||82|
|Ghost Recon 2||2004||80||58||54|
|Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike||2005||84|
|Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter||2006||90||66||44||80|
|Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2||2007||86||84||76||61|
|Ghost Recon: Future Soldier||2010||*||*||*||*||*||*|
A number of additional Tom Clancy game titles have been released over the past 23 years, typically based on Clancy's novels (though there are also a few original concepts, such as the air combat simulator H.A.W.X., and EndWar, set during a future World War III). These games typically have received poor-to-middling reviews.
There is very little truth to the rumor that Clancy's next game will be titled Tom Clancy's Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too 3: Chaos Theory.
|The Hunt for Red October *||1987|
|Red Storm Rising **||1988|
|The Hunt for Red October *||1990|
|Tom Clancy's SSN||1996||n/a|
|Tom Clancy's Politika||1997||n/a|
|Tom Clancy's ruthless.com||1998||n/a|
|The Sum of All Fears||2002||36||72||69|
|Tom Clancy's EndWar||2008||77||76||68||69||68|
|Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.||2009||73||74||70|
What is your favorite Tom Clancy-branded game? What do you think of the new Splinter Cell: Conviction? Is the series headed in a positive direction, or is it time to put it to bed? Let us know in the comments section below.