Hard to believe now, but Ubisoft's gritty spy thriller series Splinter Cell started out as a futuristic sci fi adventure starring a guy called Buster. The revelation comes from a major retrospective on the publisher's Montreal studio from IGN.
In the original design, the game was known as The Drift and took place after the Earth had exploded, with entire cities trapped on floating islands of rock. "Despite some great ideas, The Drift was a third-person shooter without much soul," reports IGN. "You could aim at two enemies at once and navigate the world with flying vehicles. Smart A.I. led to contextual crowd reactions in the game's open spaces -- so if you, Buster the reluctant hero, sprinted through a group while wielding a gun, pedestrians reacted with appropriate dismay. That gun was a modular device, too, allowing players to grapple up ledges, change vision modes, and fire cameras into walls."
The game concept was even pitched as a James Bond adventure, but was quickly shot down. It was only when Tom Clancy's Red Storm studio joined the Ubisoft family in 2000 that the pieces fell into place. Reimagining the game in the Clancy style, a developer called Nathan Wolff began adding more espionage based gameplay elements, including the stealth mechanics that are now synonymous with the series. With the gaming world going gaga for Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid 2, The Drift became Splinter Cell, Buster became Sam Fisher and the rest is history.
The game went on to spawn six sequels, the most recent of which is Splinter Cell: Blacklist which came out in 2013. If you fancy a history lesson, the Splinter Cell Trilogy HD for PlayStation 3, which remakes the first three games in the series for modern consoles.