Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Character Spotlight: Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell)

Samuel "Sam" Fisher is the main protagonist of the Splinter Cell series of video games developed by Ubisoft and endorsed byTom Clancy. His full name was first seen in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, the first game of the series, when he was using the computer in the V-22 Osprey to encrypt his call home. Fisher was a field operative of the "Splinter Cell" program for Third Echelon, a top-secret sub-branch within the National Security Agency (NSA).

REAL NAME: Samuel Fisher
OCCUPATION: Leader of Fourth Echelon (B)"Free Agent" (C)
NOC (non-official cover) operative (DA)
Third Echelon "Splinter Cell"(SC, PT and CT)
RANK: Lieutenant Commander 
BIRTHPLACE: Towson, Maryland
HEIGHT: 5'11
WEIGHT: 110 lbs
EYES: Green
HAIR: Grayish Brown

EDUCATION: Fisher is an expert in the art of stealth, trained in various techniques and tactics, and highly trained in fieldcraft. He is extremely proficient in both armed and unarmed combat, specifically SEAL CQB and Krav Maga, and can also speak seven foreign languages (i.e. Russian, Korean, Arabic, German, Chinese, Persian and Spanish) as well as understand a wide variety of other languages

KNOWN RELATIVES: Regan Burns (ex-wife and deceased) Sarah Fisher (daughter)

FIRST APPEARANCE: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell

Fisher was born in 1957 in Towson, Maryland. While not much is known about his early life, it is known that Fisher attended a military boarding school shortly after his parents died when he was a child. He later graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in political science. While Fisher was stationed at an U.S. Air Force Base in Germany during the 1980s, he met Regan Burns and they married in 1984. They had one daughter together whom they named Sarah (born May 31, 1985 in Frankfurt, Germany). Fisher and Regan later divorced and she had Sarah's surname changed. Regan died from ovarian cancer sometime in 2000 and Sarah was killed by a "drunk driver" in 2008. However, it was established that the death of his daughter was no accident. After learning this, Fisher attempts to uncover why his daughter was murdered, and what connections it has to Third Echelon, which has become bogged down with red tape to the point of ineffectiveness and corruption. It is soon revealed that Sarah is alive and would have been used as leverage to frame Sam for an unsuccessful coup against the U.S. President.

Fisher has conducted operations in Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Iceland, Israel, East Timor, Indonesia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Northand South Korea, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Myanmar, Serbia, the Republic of Georgia, and France in order to complete his missions. He has also conducted operations inside the United States, places such as LAX International Airport in Los Angeles, California, New York City, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Ellsworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas and the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

It was revealed during the flashback level in the series' fifth installment, Splinter Cell: Conviction, that Sam served in southern Iraq during the Liberation of Kuwait campaign when he led a four-man SEAL squad on a routine reconnaissance operation in al-Diwaniyah, where he and his team was ambushed by Iraqi military forces while patrolling a highway leading to Baghdad during Operation Desert Storm. Although Sam survived, two of his teammates were killed, and he was subsequently captured. However, his teammate and second-in-command, Victor Coste (callsign "Husky"), who survived the ambush and was left for dead, rescued him after he fought his way through several Iraqi soldiers in order to reach Fisher, who was being tortured for information regarding their mission in the region.

As a covert operative of the U.S. government, Fisher approaches his target objectives in a gruff, no-nonsense manner, but maintains a light-hearted relationship with his colleagues and even with his momentary hostages (even if he is going to kill them). Fisher has little patience for government bureaucracy or political maneuvering. A political realist, Fisher maintains a cynical, jaded and sarcastic sense of humor about the covert, illegal, and often morally ambiguous nature of his work. In Pandora Tomorrow, when Lambert informs Fisher that "Nobody knows whether he's (Norman Soth) a U.S. Agent or a terrorist" Fisher replies that "Those things aren't mutually exclusive."

At the same time, he is highly loyal and a staunch believer in the ideals his work ultimately protects. He is quickly angered by the casual slaughter of civilians or unarmed military personnel by his enemies.

In the original Splinter Cell, Fisher is a new member of Third Echelon, and thus his interactions with his commander Colonel Lambert are relatively straightforward and respectful. At the same time, Fisher does drop the occasional "smart" comment at particularly unusual or obtuse mission orders. For instance, during the final level in Pandora Tomorrow, Sam is in an elevator that shuts down when his enemies cut the power. Lambert informs him that the elevator has stopped, and Sam retorts with a sarcastic, "Thanks, Lambert."

In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Fisher is shown as rather ruthless towards his enemies, and he appears fairly disappointed when Lambert orders him to avoid enemy fatalities as part of his mission parameters. Frequently holding captured enemies at knife-point, his dialog with them is creative and highly intimidating, though often morbidly humorous to the audience.


Athletic Skills

Fisher is extremely agile and athletic. He is capable of many different climbing and scaling skills, such as step-jumping to climb raised walls, performing a split leg maneuver to keep himself supported for a long period of time, as well as being able to hold tight to ceiling pipes or even the undercarriage of a moving train. He is also strong enough to lift the body of a full grown man onto his back and carry it around, and can run somewhat faster than the average soldier.

Fisher uses very unorthodox climbing techniques (split jumps, half split jumps, drop kick/punch attacks, inverted strangleholds/neckbreaks, difficult techniques to climb pipes, etc.). Speculation points to his having cross-trained with Israeli Hostage-Rescue Rappelling and Climbing Sections, also known as "Terror Monkeys." These people are widely acknowledged experts in climbing in order to conduct assaults from above. In the novel, Fisher's acrobatic maneuvers extend to using not only walls, but also furniture and even human beings to push off from in order to escape. Strictly speaking these are not unarmed combat techniques - Many of these techniques are forms of parkour, for instance, in Splinter Cell: Conviction Sam [the player] can run up a wall to get to higher ledges and perform a small variety of vaults. He can also perform a cat grab after jumping out of a window or over a rail after a simple vault as well as quick hand-over-hand shimmy to the sides, climb, or drop.

Stealth Tactics

While Sam Fisher worked for 3rd Echelon, he was trained in stealth and tactics. He was trained to hide in shadows and to be "invisible." He was essentially taught to be a ninja. Sam Fisher was issued outstanding equipment to help him maintain stealth. The standard Mark V Tactical suit in witch he was given had light detectors in it so he knew how visible he was.

Close Combat

Fisher "exclusively uses Krav Maga" for unarmed combat as well as for split second decisions in combat. Krav Maga or "Contact Combat" is a hybrid hand-to-hand combat system developed in Israel. Israeli military personnel, especially its Special Forces, use them as a way of defense and offense. He has reached the advanced level of 3B under the tutelage of his instructor, Katia Loenstern. This system is widely used by special operators, police, and similar personnel. It also bears mentioning that he had an excellent working relationship with Israeli security services, and he seemed intimately familiar with Israeli weapons (including brand new ones). However in the actual first two games, Fisher's hand-to-hand combat capabilities seemed limited in direct combat with opponents, although he becomes much more effective in hand-to-hand and even gains the ability to use a knife to deadly effect in Chaos Theory. Conviction shows Fisher use a more varied array of techniques than previous games to take down enemies.


Although Fisher usually fires right-handed, he is also able to shoot left-handed (Chaos Theory), in order to keep better cover without any apparent loss of accuracy. It is unknown whether he acquired or perfected this talent in the time between Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory or he always had this ability without it being included in the first two games' controls, but the former seems unlikely.

While working for Third Echelon Sam Fisher used both a SC-20K M.A.W.S. and a FN Five-seveN Tactical as his primary and secondary weapons respectively. The SC-20K (modeled after the FN F2000) held about 30 rounds per magazine and was equipped with an integral 1.6× magnified telescopic sight, flash/sound suppressor, and grenade launcher which was modified to launch non-lethal devices such as ring airfoil projectiles, sticky cameras, sticky shockers, gas grenades, and EMP ammunition. The FN Five-seveN (also known by the moniker "SC Pistol") tactical model was a handgun with a single-action trigger and 20-round magazine equipped with a silencer/flash suppressor. Its 20 5.7×28mm SS190 rounds offered good penetration against modern body armor, while keeping the weapon's weight, dimensions, and recoil at reasonable levels. offer In Conviction, Victor Coste gives Sam a new model of the Five-seveN which is equipped with a "built-in silencer". This model is the USG variant of the Five-seveN with a Flat Dark Earth (FDE) finish.

Sam's Multi-Vision Goggles are considered by many fans to be his trademark in the series and have been in almost every game. In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell and Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, the goggles only have night vision and thermal imaging. In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Electromagnetic Field (EMF) vision was added along with a mode called Electronically Enhanced Vision (EEV) which allows Sam to remotely hack secure doors and computers from a distance. In Version 1 of Double Agent, another new vision mode called "Wave Vision" was added to the goggles which replaced EMF vision and allowed Sam to see electromagnetic waves and sound waves. In Splinter Cell: Conviction, Sam acquired a new kind of goggles called "Sonar Goggles" which used ultra high-frequency sonic pulses, combined with an advanced AI controller, to penetrate through objects and walls and provide an enhanced visual representation of the engagement zone. In other words, these goggles could be used to literally see through walls to identify humans - discriminating between armed targets and civilians as well as detect explosives.

Sam later carried a combat knife which he probably used when he was in the Navy SEALs. This knife was introduced in Chaos Theory (modeled after the Gerber Guardian Back Up). It was later slightly modified for Double Agent (modeled after the Master of Defense Keating Hornet), giving a slightly longer length of the knife and a single-edge blade instead of the double-edge bladed knife.The novels, hovewer, state that the combat knife Sam carries with him is actually a WWII-era Fairbairn-Sykes dagger. This knife was gifted to Sam by a family friend,Frank Bunch, when Sam graduated from BUD/S in his Navy SEAL days.Sam's stealth suit was a specially designed outfit that helped him out on a number of missions. According to Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory, a heads-up display (HUD) includes a light meter wired into a series of photocells in his suit providing real-time visibility data as well as a sound sensitivity/ambient noise meter that can pick up sound which are relayed to his OPSAT. The novels go in-depth into discussing the suit's technical information. They explain that the suit is equipped with a thermo-regulation system which Sam can control his body temperature. It was also outfitted with water packs within the skin of the suit which help keep Sam sustained for up to twelve hours. The body armor of the suit is made of Kevlar, RhinoPlate, a DARPA-invented version of Dragon Skin, and seventh-generation Gore-Tex, which helped prevent bullets from penetrating within Sam from long range. However, the suit's body armor is ineffective at very close range. In addition to his standard stealth suit, Sam's suit comes in different colors and camouflages to fit the mission profile for certain conditions, such as white for winter conditions, green for jungle conditions, etc. He sometimes wears a Nomex balaclava, other times he wears some other headwear.

-Brian Lansangan
Follow me on Twitter @MrSnugglenutz84

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