- "Take cover!"
- ― NKA soldier while investigating a bomb.[src]
Cover is a form of protection, usually allowing the player to avoid danger (such as enemy gunfire) as well as to hide from enemy personnel using stationary objects in the environment to conceal their character. In the many of the Splinter Cell games, this action is usually invoked using the Back to Wall button. While the term 'cover' can be used ambiguously in the video game world, this article describes the cover system in the Splinter Cell series.
In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell and Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, the games featured the ability to activate 'back to wall.' This would allow the player to 'stick' to the wall and move along it. While doing this move, the player is able to reach corners and reach around it with their pistol. Doing this allows the player to either shoot lights, destroy cameras, shoot enemies, etc. while still being concealed by cover. In first two games and Essentials, Sam is able to perform SWAT move while in cover; it is essentially a quick switch of cover to avoid being seen by the enemy. SWAT maneuver is important in both Pandora Tomorrow and Essentials. The 'cover system' in both these titles weren't similar to the newer systems introduced in the later Splinter Cell titles (more on this below).
In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Splinter Cell: Double Agent, the cover system was improved by acting more naturally and letting the player move along environments easier than before. The biggest difference, however, is how the player uses their weapons. When the player upholsters and aims their weapon, they deactivate the cover action and move around freely. The player is still able to fire around corners, however, by utilizing the aiming system and the swap shoulder feature.
In Splinter Cell: Conviction, the cover system is completely revamped and is very similar to Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas (and it's sequel). The player activates the cover system by pulling and holding the left trigger, doing so will 'stick' the player to a nearby surface or corner, providing protection for the player or allowing them to move around the environment. When using cover, the player can look at certain 'corners' that will display a small image, letting them know they can move there if they press the activate button.
In Splinter Cell: Blacklist, the cover system is similar to more modern third-person shooter cover systems, similar to the Gears of War video game series. The player can position themselves near any cover surface and activate the 'cover system' by pressing the cover button. This will cause the player to enter into cover. The difference between Conviction, however, is that the player only has to press the cover button, not hold it.