Guards are the main adversaries in the Splinter Cell series and are almost always hostile to Sam Fisher and other playable characters. They serve as obstacles to Sam's progress and can either be avoided, killed, or rendered unconscious, except during special occasions. "Guard" refers to any armed hostile, not just security guards and others who guard property for a living.
Guards have appeared in every single game in the series, with their role and function the same in every single entry. Usually, they are found patrolling an area or performing a certain task until alerted by sight or sound, at which point they will investigate the disturbance, and either return to their original task or shoot the player that they discover. Their behavior is similar throughout the games, although it has been improved with each entry.
Splinter Cell Edit
In the original Splinter Cell, guards work for a variety of different organizations, although their behavior is the same across every faction. Some are better equipped than others, with Georgian soldiers carrying assault rifles compared to police officers armed with pistols. They will always open fire on Sam when he is spotted.
There is a special type of guard introduced in the final level of the game, the Presidential Palace. Georgian Elite soldiers guard several locations, and are equipped with night vision goggles that allow them to spot Fisher in the dark.
Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow Edit
Guards in Pandora Tomorrow are mostly unchanged from the original. However, after an alarm is triggered, they will equip helmets and body armor, making them tougher to deal with, and will stay on alert longer.
In the final level, Fisher is required to kill the terrorists working for Norman Soth, the first time he is required to kill guards, as they are too dangerous to be left alive. They behave the same as every other guard when alerted, however their thermal signature is much stronger than other enemies, as they have recently been inoculated against the smallpox strain.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Edit
Guards received a considerable upgrade in Chaos Theory. Now, they will respond to Fisher sneaking around in several different ways. They will communicate better with each other and share developments, and guards will notice if their companion stops responding and become more paranoid. If a guard investigates an area and does not return, his companion will also become more paranoid. Sometimes, they will hold a flare above their heads, making it difficult to sneak up on them, or toss a flare at a dark location where they believe that Fisher is hiding. If they have become suspicious too many times, they may respond to a noise or suspicious sight by shooting at the area where they believe Fisher is hiding. When the maximum alert level is reached, guards will begin barricading themselves, shooting at anything that approaches. It becomes very difficult to finish a level once the max alert is reached.
Guards will notice broken locks and the difference between a light that has been turned off and shot out, becoming more concerned at the latter.
Guards are more proficient in combat and will attempt to take cover and flank Fisher. They can also go prone while firing to make themselves a more difficult target. When injured, they may choose to run away and hide.
Unlike in the original and Pandora Tomorrow, Fisher can choose whether or not to use lethal or non-lethal melee attacks. Some guards, such as South Korean soldiers and National Guard members cannot be lethally killed with melee attacks. However, they can be shot and killed, although Fisher will receive a severe reprimand from Lambert, all secondary objectives will be cancelled, and Fisher will receive a score of zero for the mission.
Guards with thermal vision are encountered in the final levels of the game, and they are far more dangerous and capable of seeing Fisher from much further away.
Splinter Cell: Double Agent Edit
Guards in Double Agent have been downgraded significantly. They will not talk to each other as much and do not carry flares, as most of the game takes place in naturally bright environments. In addition, they do not change when alarms are triggered. Interestingly, there are enemies are who are allied with Fisher in the Ellsworth Penitentiary level. They are prisoners who are rioting and will not shoot Fisher unless he attacks them.
Splinter Cell: Conviction Edit
Guards in Conviction behave much differently from guards in other games in the series. When alerted in any way, they will search the entire level and not stop until killed. They are much more vocal than other guards and frequently taunt Fisher while in combat and while searching for him. They come in a few different varieties, ranging from basic thugs to professional Third Echelon operatives. Higher-ranking enemies are more proficient in combat and will not lose track of Fisher as easy, utilizing squad-based tactics. All guards in Conviction carry gun-mounted flashlights, making it harder to hide from them in the shadows. Unlike in other entries in the series, guards cannot be non-lethally dealt with and are always killed in some way by Fisher.
Enemy Splinter Cells appear in a few levels towards the end of the game. They have the same behavior as regular guards, but can use their sonar goggles to find Sam, making it impossible to hide from them. They will send out a "ping" every few seconds informing them of Fisher's position, other than that they are no different from other guards.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist Edit
Guards in Blacklist are similar to Conviction, but with better capabilities. They will work better together when searching, usually travelling in teams rather than going off alone.
Guards in Blacklist have more varieties than other entries in the series. The first type of special guard are the Heavy Infantry, who are very heavily armored and cannot be killed by a melee attack except from behind. Some carry shields which make them even harder to kill, as they will face the player and deflect bullets. The second type of special guard is the Drone Operator, who will continually send out drones to seek out the player and explode on them, dealing heavy damage, and can also jam Fisher's goggles. The third type of special enemy is the Commando, who is more aggressive than other enemies and can use smoke grenades and evasive rolls during combat in addition to possessing thermal goggles. The fourth and final type are snipers, who can see much further than other enemies and deal heavy damage with their rifles.
Guards in Blacklist can be killed or knocked out at Fisher's discretion, however, in the Detention Facility level, Fisher cannot kill the guards, as they are U.S soldiers. This is interesting, as Fisher could kill National Guard soldiers in Chaos Theory and continue the mission, although with a severe reprimand from Lambert and mission score penalty. However, this could be explained as Fourth Echelon not being allowed to operate with as much latitude as Third Echelon.