Watch the video from Splinter Cell Blacklist, below. Now, tell us: how old do you think
Sam Fisher is? 35? 40? He’s got some moves, right? Well, according to Splinter
Cell’s persistent timeline, Sam is actually 56 this year (he was born in 1957
in Towson, Maryland fact fans). Uh, hang on a minute – that’s the same age as
Timothy Spall (Wormtail in the Harry Potter films, amongst other more
prestigious works) and Larry Bird. Now, we’re pretty sure Larry Bird – an
Olympic Gold medal winning athlete – couldn’t murder an entire camp full of
soldiers with a karambit today, even if he has been taking his cod liver oil

Yet there goes Fisher, running through the camp like a dose
of head-lice at a child’s birthday party. So, ahem, the only possible
conclusion we can draw is that the sneaky old Third, sorry Fourth, Echelon spy
has discovered the fountain of youth. It’s the only way to explain his dramatic
de-aging. However, as you’ll discover throughout the rest of this feature,
Fisher is very selective about who he does and doesn’t share it with…

Now, a little disclaimer. We’re only poking fun at Splinter
Cell. We love the series dearly (this writer thinks that the Spies vs Mercs
mode from Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory – which is making a comeback in
Blacklist – is one of the best multiplayer experiences ever created) and we’ve
got plenty of great coverage coming your way very soon.

However, we do find it strange that Ubisoft hasn’t committed
to fully rebooting the series with Blacklist. Painful as it is, we have to
accept that Michael Ironside – who voices Fisher in all previous games – is
out. We’ll miss his gruff tones. Ironside is gone for two, official reasons. 1)
Ubisoft do their motion and voice capture at the same time now (we’ve seen how
they created Far Cry 3’s Vaas – it’s incredible tech), and Ironside simply
isn’t up to such physical work. 2) Having the seasoned voice of Ironside dubbed
over a much younger mo-capped actor would be ridiculous.

Love him or hate him – the new Fisher makes sense in his own
context. However, whereas we’ve recently seen Square Enix reboot the Tomb Raider franchise by showing us Lara’s formative years, the new Splinter Cell
takes place in 2014 – chronologically after all the other games. Yet Fisher is
looking younger. Check him out here.

Not bad for a 56 year old, right? He’s been supping at that
fountain of youth ever since the original game. In the first Splinter Cell
(2002), Sam was a youngster at 45. He creaked a bit during split-jumps, but
managed to save the world comfortably enough. When he returned in Pandora
Tomorrow (2004), Fisher had discovered the ability to pull off SWAT turns and
half-split jumps – physically demanding techniques, but nothing too major for a
man of 47. Chaos Theory (2005) brought brutal close-quarters knife work, and
the ability to kill people while hanging upside down. Still, not implausible
for a man pushing 49, but you’d think he’d have more moves in his younger days,

When Double Agent (2006) arrived, Fisher should have been
slowing down – and for the first time in his life we think he did.
<Spoilers> When he finally ‘ends the career’ of his close friend Irving
Lambert at the conclusion of Double Agent, he looks every minute of his 49
years <End of Spoilers>. However, a few years in the wilderness supping
from the fountain of youth saw him make a very sprightly comeback in Conviction
(2010) where he’d learned all kinds of aggressive stealth techniques.

We can’t help but think poor Lambert might have been saved –
or at least been able to save himself – if Fisher hadn’t been greedily keeping
the fountain of youth to himself. Lambert is 41 in the first Splinter Cell
(born in 1961), and 45 in Double Agent, yet the stress of managing someone as
energetic and aggressive as Fisher has clearly taken its toll – even over a
four year period. Technically, Lambert is younger than Fisher…

Ouch. However, if we dig deeper into the characters from the
Splinter Cell universe it becomes clear that there’s more going on between
Fisher and his tech support worker Anna Grimmsdottir (born in 1974) than meets the eye. She’s
clearly been slamming back Fisher’s special water, and it seems likely that
she’s been spending company funds on all kinds of cosmetic treatments from hair
colouring to breast implants. Take a look at the image here that compares the Pandora Tomorrow Grim with the Blacklist Grim.

In his relatively short video game history, Sam Fisher has
changed dramatically. Look, we know that it’s tough to maintain a believable
character when technology constantly updates, allowing more and more
spectacular moves and set-pieces, but it’s something many others have dealt
with in a believable way. Blacklist was an ideal opportunity for Fisher to pass
the spy torch to a younger model – especially as he’ll look and sound different
with Ironside gone.

However, as that isn’t happening, we’ll just quietly
conclude that Sam has indeed discovered the font of anti-aging, and look
forward to seeing a teenage ‘dude’ version of Fisher kicking ass and reversing
awkwardly through puberty on PS5 and Xbox 4, some time in 2020.

By Andy Hartup