Following the release of Hitman 3, the magazine’s editorial staff and contributors voted to choose the most prominent titles in the genre.
Sneak into the shadows, look for the corner to hide. A few steps in silence, so that the enemy does not discover our position. And when you least expect it, neck cut, corpse hidden and straight to the next position. Stealth mechanics have taken over video games in recent years. Titles as varied as Assassin’s Creed, The Last of Us Part 2 or The Medium add mechanics of this style to a greater or lesser extent, although few manage to perfectly measure the subtle design of the infiltration.
IO-Interactive is one of the most prominent studios in the genre. The Danish developer, which was part of Square Enix, eventually parted ways with the Japanese company to make its way as an independent team. They retain the intellectual properties, so they have had the opportunity to launch Hitman 3 in collaboration with Warner Bros. Interactive. In addition, they have expanded with a new studio in Mälmo, Sweden. His future projection goes through the development of the next James Bond 007 title, of which there are still not too many details about it. What is known is that they will not be based on the movies. Undoubtedly, that IO-Interactive works on a video game starring one of the most famous spies in fiction is a guarantee that at least it is in the hands of a group expert in stealth, although Bond does not tear his clothes for a good shooting or a chase all over the city.
The future will be the future, but the past has left us with a whole series of magnificent stealth and infiltration games. Different proposals, set in real and fictitious locations, in places with and without powers, under completely varied aesthetics. At FreeGameTips we have met again to vote and choose the best products of this genre. We did not select the general quality of the title, but the work done with the stealth mechanics in particular. The cards are already on the table, this is the Top 10 of the magazine!
10. Hitman: Absolution (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
- FreeGameTips Reviews
Eidos Interactive announced the purchase of IO-Interactive in 2004, hence Square Enix, which became the owner from the creators of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, was the publisher of Hitman: Absolution. This led to the return of the Danish developer to the character of Agent 47, a murderer who had already starred in almost half a dozen video games up to that date. Like other productions in the saga, the title is designed in the third person, but it is not a shooter in which we can shoot like crazy, but we are facing a product focused on stealth.
Agent 47 is not just any agent, it has been genetically modified to do its job more effectively. He works for the Agency, a body that dictates the assignments he must undertake. However, in Absolution the unthinkable happens: due to various events that occur, our protagonist is branded a traitor, so he will have to face the Agency itself. IO-Interactive builds extensive scenarios in which the player has the opportunity to experiment with all the gadgets available and to have. Its formula, its essence, goes beyond completing a phase; it invites the user to reflect, to experiment, to think about the next steps to take. In that sense, stealth mechanics are everything.
9. Metal Gear Solid 2: Son’s of Liberty (PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS Vita)
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Hideo Kojima had just published Metal Gear Solid on the first PlayStation, a video game that made a deep impression among the players of the time and that cemented a saga that has continued in the first line until the departure of the Japanese creative Konami. With Metal Gear Solid 2: Son’s of Liberty, the expectations were sky high. The Official PlayStation Magazine, which was still marketed in Spain at the time, gave away the demo and the print run was sold out in a matter of days. It was the part of the ship with Solid Snake as the protagonist, a portion of the game that served as a prologue and that anticipated a new stealth adventure with this character as the headliner.
But Kojima wouldn’t be Kojima if he didn’t get one of his bombastic ideas out of his hat. Solid Snake is present in the game, but we handle a whole newbie, young Raiden. This, of course, aroused much criticism at the time. The agent starts off on a mission against the terrorist group Son’s of Liberty, which has settled in the Big Shell treatment plant to carry out its mission.
Following the foundations of Metal Gear Solid, the team led by Hideo Kojima refines the stealth and action mechanics, in part thanks to the power of PlayStation 2. Added to the possibility of shooting in the first person is the option to grab onto ledges. As in other stealth titles, opting for firefights is not the smart option, so stick to the walls, hit it to get attention when the situation requires it, crouch close to the enemy and use the different weapons and objects (also the distracting, like magazines).
Metal Gear Solid 2: Son’s of Liberty.
8. Hitman 3 (PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PC, Switch)
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Square Enix was not convinced by the results of Hitman: Absolution and Hitman 2, so the relationship with IO-Interactive broke down and they reached an agreement to separate their paths. As a consequence, the studio decided to continue on its own with Hitman 3, the most recent title in the series, now available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PC and Nintendo Switch (in one edition on the cloud). Warner Bros. Interactive has been in charge of publishing the title around the world.
The story of Hitman 3 begins right after the events that we live in the second part of the reboot. Agent 47 infiltrates one of the largest buildings in the world, which is located in Dubai. With this new installment, IO-Interactive does not intend to revolutionize the formula, but to take the pre-existing elements and expand them with the odd novelty. Replayability remains an important point, since the objective is not for the player to complete the phase without more, but to explore different ways to meet their goals.
Mechanically, the questioning of suspects and the possibility of looking for clues in their rooms is incorporated into the range of playable options. Using the smartphone, an unprecedented tool in the saga, Agent 47 uses his camera to modify certain electronic surfaces, as well as to find the necessary evidence. Beyond the minor changes in the playable design, what really makes the difference is the intelligence with which they have approached the design of the levels. All possible options are displayed there.
7. Dishonored 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
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Arkane Studios, the experienced French developer owned by Bethesda, will become part of Xbox Game Studios upon completion of the purchase of ZeniMax Media, the parent company of both companies. A few months after the release of Deathloop, his new production, in the Top 10 of FreeGameTips, one of his best video games has not failed, also one of the most outstanding titles of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 generation. In Dishonored 2, the creative Gauls They put all their wisdom and good work at the service of carefully designed stealth mechanics, which are complemented by mechanics more focused on action.
When a game has good infiltration mechanics, it is perceived at the controls. In the case of Dishonored 2, it takes a few minutes with it to discover that everything is measured to the millimeter. In addition, the game implements powers, which allow you to perform all kinds of actions in the shadows. They do not renounce the spectacularity, indeed, the most mastered players are capable of executing all kinds of virguerias, unleashing a concatenated massacre without the enemy noticing their presence. Although this is a product that invites stealth, it is also possible to approach the adventure from action. On the other hand, the magnificent level design has been conceived as a whole field of experimentation. To highlight the mechanical mansion, an authentic example of everything we have expressed in these lines.
Dishonored 2 leaves the smoky streets of Dunwall to lead us to the corrupt avenues of Karnaca. Empress Emily Kaldwin has been dethroned by a usurper. Managing Corvo Attano or Emily herself, we must fight to kill the traitor and regain the crown.
6. Deus Ex (PC, PS2)
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Not-so-veteran video game fans might remember Warren Spector from his later days. From the hand of Disney Interactive Studios, the creative was behind Epic Mickey and Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. But long before that time, Spector also worked on several installments of Ultima, one of the most recognized role-playing sagas in history. He is much remembered for System Shock, a saga that will return soon with a third installment, as well as for being the creator of Deus Ex. Developed by Ion Storm and edited by Eidos Interactive in 2000, this production is one of the best games of stealth that have ever been done, and as such, has received their support on FreeGameTips.
This sci-fi-themed title introduces RPG elements with hints of action, just like System Shock. As an infiltration game, opting for uncontrolled violence has little sign of success. Therefore, it is not only necessary to use the correct weapon at the right time, but we will have to move forward in silence, explore every nook and cranny of the scenarios and enjoy the freedom and options that the developers give us.
The story of Deus Ex is set in a dystopian future. The ingredients are well known in the context of cyberpunk: megacorporations, drugs, corruption, cutting edge technology, and crowd control. And so we handle a character of a rather cybernetic nature, with the necessary skills to dismantle the terrorist groups that threaten the stability of the world. But of course everything is much more complicated than that.
5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U)
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Resurrecting a classic is never easy, doing it well is even more complicated. Neither Warren Spector nor Harvey Smith participated in the development of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a return to the saga that occurred in the days of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. On their backs, Eidos Montreal had to bear the responsibility of developing a new installment of a cult saga (a prequel to the original, to be exact). And no, the fans didn’t make it easy for him either. The producer of the title, François Lapikas, made it clear that in all his years of profession he had never had as much pressure as before.
Keep in mind that at that time, shooters were the absolute kings on console and PC. As such, many fans of the classics feared that without Ion Storm overseeing the project, the new studio would be tempted to drift into the mainstream. They did not. Director Jean-François Dugas was clear that they had to respect the legacy of the classics, take what worked and empower it, all updated to the new technology of the time. We have lethal and non-lethal weapons, so we can put enemies to sleep instead of killing them. This aspect is essential for stealth, although another partner can wake them up and then sound the alarm.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution allows for the most direct approach, although anyone who prefers to do it quietly can take advantage of the options provided. In addition to abilities, the protagonist has the ability to search through the scenarios to find alternative routes. The presence of security cameras or inventory management are aspects to take into account, but it is also crucial not to make noise so as not to alert the enemy.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
4. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2, Xbox 360, 3DS, PS Vita, PC)
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For the next installment in the Metal Gear Solid saga, Hideo Kojima traveled back in time, to a time before Solid Snake. Big Boss, Naked Snake, is the main character of this third main chapter. The game’s subtitle, Snake Eater, is a clear reference to what he is going to have to do to survive. In an inclement jungle, feeding on snakes or any vermin can make the difference between life and death, at least conceptually, because in the playable it translates into certain disadvantages if Snake is hungry.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater follows the brand’s guidelines, but adds some cool aspects to the stealth mechanics. Perhaps one of the most remarkable is the possibility of using the environment to camouflage oneself. Locations full of wild vegetation are hostile terrain, as enemies move through brush. At the same time, Snake himself can take advantage of the terrain. In the game, Konami implemented a customization system, which allows you to choose between different types of drawings and colors, some of which are more aesthetic than useful (wearing the flag of Spain or the United States is probably not the best method to go unnoticed.
Another substantial change with respect to deliveries set in more advanced times is that Big Boss uses gadgets from the 60s. Even when he is injured, his healing process is carried out in a conventional way, with bandages and medical objects that we find Around the area. Originally released on PlayStation 2, although later it had versions on Xbox 360, PC, 3DS and more, the work is set in the middle of the Cold War, with the situation between the United States and the Soviet Union about to explode into a thousand pieces.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
3. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (PS2, PS4, Xbox, GameCube, N-Gage, DS)
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Sam Fisher has always been compared to Snake, or rather to his games. For a time, both titles were benchmarks when it comes to stealth and infiltration. Another of their commonalities has become clear today. Why are there no new installments of these sagas? In the case of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, his return sounds in the future, at least in the form of a Netflix production, although Ubisoft still maintains the intrigue. In any case, Chaos Theory, the title that closes the original trilogy of the French game, is also one of the highest quality products in its infiltration proposal.
Although in later installments other concepts have been chosen that have detached it from its origins, this third chapter follows the schemes of the original games and reinforces them. Despite the comparison to which we alluded in the previous paragraph, Splinter Cell and Sam Fisher have their own personalities. How could it be otherwise, the player uses different tools to advance in the adventure. In addition, it is vital to take advantage of the shadows and the silence to slide without the enemy noticing. In the situations in which we are detected, the playable system implements the mechanics that allow us to defend ourselves, with a more direct approach.
The story of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is set in 2007 and traces an alternate future in which Japan, China and Korea find themselves in a period of escalating tension. The Chinese government breaks international laws and creates a division for its self-defense, which generates a crisis between the different powers.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.
2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC)
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The words were repeated several times, but few believed him. Hideo Kojima had said actively and passively that “this would be his last Metal Gear Solid”, what happens is the phrase he pronounced during the development of previous installments of the saga. Hence, one of the Metal Gears Solid 3: Snake Eater trailers was a parody of the chair game in which at the end Big Boss sat in his place throwing Raiden into the air and with the name of Kojima as director. However, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has been the last project of the brand in which he has worked. His resounding departure from Konami occurred at the end of 2015, with consequences that also affected the game.
And it is that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is surely the best of the saga at a mechanical level. Unfortunately, Kojima’s abrupt departure affected the final product, which came out incomplete. We are not referring to the content, since there is to give and take, but to the rush that is noticed in the script. Leaving this aspect aside, this work implements a strategic aspect already drawn in Peace Walker, the exclusive PSP installment (later it came out on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, in an HD edition). However, in this title the strategy, management and collection of resources is part of the playable core.
From specific tools for infiltration to playable mechanics, companions and other elements that blend together to make up the ultimate stealth experience. As if that weren’t enough, Kojima Productions embodied all these options in a vast sandbox-like world, a type of design that Hideo Kojima had not explored in previous chapters. The supplies of the iDroid provide us relief in the required situations, not to mention its possibilities within the schemes of action. Endless options for every circumstance.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
1. Dishonored (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC)
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Corvo Attano’s original story presents a basic difference from its sequel: he is a silent character. Arkane Studios thus began the journey of this protagonist in the dark and sordid Dunwall, a very risky bet, since they raised a new intellectual property with a playable system that was far from what the triple A video games of the time offered. The risk component of launching a product of these characteristics should not be underestimated, especially when it has a quality such as Dishonored, with fresh and well-executed ideas. This is a tough market, as risky bets have a hard time breaking through all the other big-budget titles already established as sagas.
Jessamine Kaldwin sits on the throne of Dunwall, a city full of rats, vermin and pests. In the shadows, palace intrigues and conspiracies are the order of the day. Corvo Attano, the Empress’s bodyguard, witnesses the plot that is taking place and the murder of the sovereign. Immediately, Hiram Burrows, in charge of the kingdom’s spy network, proclaims himself Lord Regent and orders the capture of Corvo, whom he accuses of having orchestrated the insurrection. Stripped of his position, he is taken to the cells, where torment awaits him. However, unexpected allies rescue him. From that moment, Attano will become an assassin with one goal in mind: to destroy the new tyrant regime and return the crown to the Kaldwin family.
Violence is part of Dishonored’s DNA, which of course carries over to its playable design. Like the second installment, it works from a first-person perspective, like a shooter. But the particularity is that the product has been outlined with the infiltration mechanics in mind, built around the different powers of Corvo. Arkane has not opted for a sandbox structure, although the stages are spacious and take advantage of all its spaces to perfection. We will not repeat what we have already commented in the respective section of Dishonored 2, which is obviously a proposal that recovers many of the mechanics of the first. Of course, we will highlight the chaos meter, an aspect that varies depending on the deaths we cause. When it becomes unbalanced, carnivorous rats take over the streets, the plague spreads, and the situation becomes more and more untenable.
In short, Dishonored has risen as the most valued stealth and infiltration title among the editors and collaborators of FreeGameTips. Not for less, the title of Arkane is still a round work, whose expansions closed a first installment that gave way to the next story. The saga remains fallow, it remains to be seen if we will see a Dishonored 3 one day, but the French studio risks again with an unpublished intellectual property. That, however, is a story for the future.