The Stealth Meter (sometimes called the Visibility Meter or Light Meter) is a device and gameplay mechanic of the Splinter Cell series designed to show just how visible the player is in the environment. The Stealth Meter is a device and central gameplay feature present in all of the Splinter Cell titles, it allows the player to see how visible they are in the environment, or if they are hidden. The Stealth Meter is attached to the player's OPSAT, but it is either visible on the HUD (Heads-up display) or on the player's character themselves.
In the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, the Stealth Meter is represented by a bar broken into 5 sections with a gradient across all five sections. A small, visibility bar moves across the gradient, showing the player just how visible they are in their environment. Out of all the Meters that appear in subsequent Splinter Cell games, this one has the most split 'sections' across. If the Meter is in the first bar, they are hidden and near impossible to be detected by the enemy from a distance (unless the player shoots at them, or causes an alarm some other way). The three middle sections have varying detection range, with the detection range gradually increasing towards the right. The last section of the Meter is the brightest, and indicates the highest chance of being detected visually by an enemy.
In Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, the Stealth Meter is represented the same way, however, it is broken into just 3 sections with a gradient across all three sections. The visibility bar is stylized with a line and diamond in the middle. Although the sections seem simplified, there are still varying degrees of exposure to light on the player's character. The left section indicates complete invisibility in the darkness, while the right section indicates complete visibility and danger of being detected. In the center section, the gradient is smaller than in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, but there is still a threat of being detecting even when the visibility bar is in the center section.
A new feature added in Pandora Tomorrow is that the Stealth Meter will flash twice if the player is carrying a body, this will indicate that the body is well hidden when they place it.
In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, the Stealth Meter makes it's last form in the tradition style, but is visually different compared to its previous appearances. In this game, the Stealth Meter is now displayed with 4 sections, with the gradient across all four sections (similar more to the first game than Pandora Tomorrow). The visibility 'bar' is now a small white dot that track's the light exposure on the player and moves accordingly. The Stealth Meter no longer 'flashes' to indicate that a body the player is carrying will be hidden when they place it, as was the case in Pandora Tomorrow. The visual style of the Stealth Meter appears to be much smaller, fitting with the newly introduced Sound Meter and equipment information. The same Stealth Meter system is adpoted again in Splinter Cell: Essentials.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Version 1)Edit
In Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Version 1), the traditional Stealth Meter style used in the previous games is replaced with a single 'light' on the player's equipment and also on the objective bar that appears on the bottom left hand side of the player's HUD. Additionally, the player's health is represented over the player's Stealth Meter when losing it (it disappears when not taking damage). The stealth meter is seen on HUD, clothing and the SC-20K. There are three distinct colors that indicate to the player what they standing currently is in the environment:
Green — The player is invisible, this means that the player will not be detected unless they touch an enemy, use noticeable equipment (like a weapon or other equipment), or make a lot of noise. Being in a 'Green' state means that the player is well-hidden from hostile forces both from a distance and close to an enemy guard.
Yellow — The player can be seen by hostile forces and is at risk of being detected visually. There are multiple conditions on whether the player will be detected, even if an enemy is looking in their direction: conditions such as inclement weather conditions (snow storms will help mask the player's presence) or by using visual-disrupting gadgets (such as Smoke Grenades).
Red — The player has been detected and is being fired on by the enemy, or an alarm has been raised and the enemy has upgraded their equipment (setting the level up one 'alarm stage'). There is a loss in the Stealth Score and the player has a chance of not acquiring bonus equipment by failing the 'starred' objectives in the mission.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Version 2)Edit
In Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Version 2), the stealth meter is represented by a circle image of the player's silhouette, and two bars tracing the image. The more visible the player is, the more visible the image is; the bars that trace the image increase as well when the player is visible.
In Splinter Cell: Conviction, the stealth meter is never represented by any icon on the screen. Instead, when the player is in darkness, the screen changes to black and white and when the screen is in color, the player is visible. Unlike the previous games in the series, the player is either hidden or they are visible: they cannot be in the 'middle ground' in the lighting of the environment. While being the darkness changes the screen to black and white, some things in the environment will stay the same color regardless if the player is in the darkness or not. Some things that aren't affected are hostile NPCs, explosive objects, traps and contextual action indicators in the map. If the player is found and the screen is black, the enemies will chase the player until the "Last known position" is left the environment.
In Splinter Cell: Blacklist, the Stealth Meter is similar to the one featured in Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Version 1), however the light color on the player character remains a solid color (green is the default color, but can be changed to another color). The more hidden the player is in the environment, the brighter the color becomes on the player's equipment. Unlike Splinter Cell: Conviction, Splinter Cell: Blacklist's Stealth Meter will indicate varying degrees of brightness meaning it's similar to the trilogy's games than Conviction. Other factors depending on the lighting in the environment, as the player will have to determine how hidden they are judging by the lighting in the level itself (for example, day missions have the player more likely to be spotted at a distance).
In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Irving Lambert explained how the Stealth Meter worked to Sam Fisher during the Training level. He said that the suit has a series of photocells linked up with the user's OPSAT with a Stealth Meter letting the user know just how hidden they are.