An alarm is an alert system designed to give attentive signals to personnel or civilians in a given area. In the Splinter Cell series, alarms are game mechanic systems designed to emphasis stealth and provide difficulty.
Alarms are usually activated by alarm panels located on walls and other areas. If personnel or civilians detect the player, they will usually run to the alarm panel and activate the alarm. The alarm panel, once activated, will set off an alarm and put the entire area on alert. Security cameras, lasers, motion sensors and failure of hacking can also trigger alarms. In first two games the guards uses radio to trigger alarm, rather than use alarm panel in the environment. Depending on the level, and the objective conditions, alarms may cause Mission Failure for the player.
In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, alarms have a limit of either one or three alarms (depending on the mission). If the player triggers the maximum amount, the mission will be over. If the player leaves a body visible and enters another area, an alarm will trigger. This means players must hide bodies to avoid detection. In Pandora Tomorrow, enemies will put on flak-jackets or helmets depending on the alarm level. If the player avoids being detected, alarm stages will decrease after passing certain area.
In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, alarm system have been changed; there are four alarm stages in total instead of three. players will no longer fail the mission if they reach alarm level four. Instead, the mission will become increasingly difficult for the player. Things like security devices or defense turrets will come online if the alarm stage increases. Personnel will become more alert and in some cases barricade themselves in a room to defend themselves, they are seen using their main weapon rather than sidearm and their protective equipment will be improved as well.
In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent, the alarm system plays a similar role to Chaos Theory, but the three-stage count is not represented anymore in the game. Triggering it will cause the guards to search for the player, the enemies will barricade themselves and have an impact on the mission rating, sometimes this may even lower the trust from the JBA or NSA side. Also, some side missions require the player to complete the mission with no alarms, normally this will unlock better equipment for the player to use, an alarm triggered means the side mission fail. There is one plus side however, these equipments can be obtained individually. Although the JBA HQ part 1, 2 and 3 has no alarms (part 4 has alarm after the player's cover is blown) Being spotted in Low/High security areas, being spotted when conducting suspicious actions or touch anyone, it will lower the JBA trust, and if the trust meter goes to zero, the player's cover is blown, and whole mission is failed.
In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction, the alarm system takes a drastically different approach compared to the previous games. If the enemy is alerted, they will pursue the player until the enemy loses sight of the player. If spotted by one enemy (and he fires a loud gunshot from his weapon), all enemies in the immediate area will be alerted to the player's presence. Despite being detected, however, enemies in other areas will not be alerted to the players presence, and will act as if they haven't heard anything (unless story-related they are aware to the player's presence on the premises). In some missions, the player is required to not be detected or the mission will fail (and the alarm will sound if the player is spotted).
In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist, alarm system becomes a major factor in some side missions, in 4E, Charlie and Co-op missions the player usually no need to worry about alarms, but the missions provided by Anna Grímsdóttir are highly stealth-based as there is one alarm limit like older games, should the alarm is triggered, the entire mission is failed.
Spies vs Mercs Edit
In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, alarms appear in the Spies vs Mercs multiplayer mode as a very important feature that works in favor of the defending team, namely Mercenaries. Spies can set off a localized alarm (detectable by all Mercenaries) when they trigger it, whether by surveillance camera or a security laser. There are even motion sensors in some areas that pick up any fast motion detected by Spies in certain areas of the map.
- In the console and PC version of Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, there is an exception that the alarm cap can be reached without failing the mission. In the last part of the LAX mission, where Sam confronts Norman Soth and his men, if the alarm goes off the mission can still be completed; this is probably a glitch or made purposely as the players have no choice but to kill everyone as fast as they can, which will inevitably draw attention.
- In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Sam will remark to Lambert in the second mission, saying, "Don't tell me: three alarms and the mission is over?" To which Lambert replies, "Of course not, this is no video game, Fisher."
- In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, in some cases, the alarm stage will go straight to four (i.e. getting captured in the Kokubo Sosho mission).
- In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, while in the single player version of Seoul mission has no alarm system, the Co-op version have.
- The alarm stage count that was present in Chaos Theory, is present in Version 2 of Double Agent.
- In Double Agent (Version 2) alarms can be lowed by grabbing a guard and bringing him to a white comms box, Sam will tell him to reset the alarms and the cooperative guard will tell comms that it was a false alarm and to reset the alarm.
- Alarms as a game mechanic were not present in most campaign levels in Splinter Cell: Conviction, if the player was spotted nearby guards would be more alert, however, the next area's enemies will be the same regardless if the player was spotted or not. This is likely because of Splinter Cell: Conviction's theme of faster gameplay and predatory playstyle playing the dominate role.
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist also had somewhat of an alarm mechanic, enemies are usually encountered in 'areas' typically after a checkpoint has been reached. Security devices, such as Surveillance cameras, can trigger an alert alarming other enemies in the immediate area.
- In both Conviction and Blacklist, there are scenarios that player is not allowed to trigger alarms, in Blacklist one particular level goes even further in that player cannot even touch anyone.