Let us face the obvious truth: you cannot have a proper listing of stealth games without having to mention Hideo Kojima's ever impressive Metal Gear series (especially the "Solid" series that started on the Playstation). That said, there are still plenty of amazing stealth games out there on the market that have nothing to do with Foxdie, the Patriots, or anything that has anyone shouting "snaaaaake" during the game over screen. And to start off out list of bona fide stealth game alternatives, we are going with:
Thief the Dark Project
Yes folks, there are sequels to game, but we are going with the 1999 re-release of the 1998 Thief: The Dark Project. Gold expands the game by adding plenty of important gameplay tweaks, bug fixes, and three additional maps.
The stealth in this game is not forced, but implied. Garret, the lead character is not particularly strong or tough. But his quite nimble, agile, and for some odd reason, hiding in the faintest of shadows renders him practically invisible to enemies. Players have to use this to their advantage in order to progress through stages. As expected, the goal of most of the stages is to steal certain items. Players have free reign as to whether they will kill all NPCs or use the shadows to stealthily steal the item without anyone noticing.
Why is Thief on top of our list? Because the game's 1998 November release date means it was at least in the development stages by the time Metal Gear Solid (September 1998) and even Tenchu (February 1998) hit the shelves. Tenchu is of particular note since the two games share various mechanics such as the differing reactions of NPCs (fighter type NPCs will engage the player in battle and call for backup, while civilian n type NPCs will run and call for help).
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Again, not the latest Splinter Cell game, but it is one of the most refined in the series. Chaos Theory brings back many of the improvements introduced in Pandora Tomorrow, but also adds several new combat features that helps improve the gameplay. Michael Ironside lends his voice once again to Sam Fisher as players take on missions in Asia as they must uncover a major conspiracy to start a new World War.
One of the things we love about this game is that it has completely taken care of the old "bodies everywhere" issue. Players were previously penalized for leaving bodies in the open. Now, players have the option of disabling all NPCs and cameras in a map before proceeding -and any bodies left lying around will not be discovered. There are plenty of advantages to taking the stealthy approach in this game. Not triggering alerts will mean that enemies will not actively search for you nor will they start equipping special defensive armor (which makes they a whole lot harder to take down). In addition, plenty of new moves have been added in order to increase the player's takedown capabilities. Gone however, is the ability to shoot while hiding from cover.
Like previous Splinter Cell games, Chaos Theory's main narrative is mostly political drama -in this case, Sam must discover the truth as to why China and North Korea have suddenly decided to go to war against Japan and the United States. While this is in line with the rest of the late Tom Clancy's narratives in his books , the Splinter Cell storyline is actually written by various ghost writers under the name of David Michaels.
This fantasy-steampunk action RPG provides players with the gift of choice in terms of how to deal with objectives and also takes how much collateral damage you do as part of how the game world evolves. The more damage you deal to the surroundings and the more NPCs harmed in the mission, the more your "chaos" rating rises. On the other hand, if you try to keep as much of the game world intact, it will also affect how the game ends.
Players take on the role of Convo, former bodyguard to the Empress and now, a convicted (well, framed) assassin of the Empress. The player must embark on a quest in order to avenge the death of the Empress and discover the truth behind her assassination. The story is actually quite compelling and the game's voice acting cast is filled up with some rather impressive names: April Stewart, Lena Headey, Chloe Grace Moretz, Susan Sarandon, Michael Madsen, and Carrie Fisher are just some of the many wonderful talents who have lent their voices to bring this game to life.
The gameplay in Dishonoured is a cross between open world and closed maps -with Convo moving in between several large maps. While most of the gameplay is done FPS, there is plenty of emphasis on stealth and exploration. As a fantasy-steampunk themed game, the player is able to access a wide variety of tools and skills at his disposal: ranging from guns, crossbows, swords, and even a few supernatural abilities.
Deus Ex Human Evolution
Deus Ex Human Evolution serves as a prequel to the two Deus Ex games. Much like its' predecessors, Human Evolution takes on the idea and notion of human augmentation; though in this case, nanomachine technology has yet to be fully developed and augmentations are more of the mechanical variety.
Players take on the role of Adam Jensen, a security manager who is critically injured in a terrorist attack. This incident requires Adam to make use of augmentations in order to stay alive and improve his capabilities. Players are given a variety of ways to approach the game's objectives as augmentations allow for a variety of functions. There are four main ways to approach the game: combat, stealth, hacking, and social.
Depending on what augmentations are upgraded and used by players, Jensen is able to take on problems with a variety of methods. For example, to enter a gateway, there are four different ways to do it. Combat would require fighting off guards, stealth would allow you to sneak past the guards without fighting them, hacking would allow the circumvention of the technology locking the gateway, and social would allow you to get welcomed into the gateway. While this means that old fashioned "stealth" plays a much lesser role in the game than other methods, using hacking and social are also "sneaky" in their own distinct way.
Since the PS3 and Xbox 360 console versions of Deus Ex Human Evolution were released earlier than the Wii U and PC versions of the game, there are plenty of improvements and fixes to the gameplay that are already built into the later Wii U and PC versions -which means that the PC version would be considered to be superior of all four options.
Mark of a Ninja
There is a lot to be said about historical accuracy in video games, and Mark of a Ninja is certainly on the opposite end of the spectrum on all things accurate. But what it does deliver is the media-stereotype of a ninja (which is all sorts of awesome actually), and impressive gameplay that will require you to carefully think before you act.
We consider Mark of a Ninja to be a puzzle platformer (though most would argue that this game is an action platformer), for the sheer fact that you can actually finish entire levels with very specific maneuvers and actions. All that said, do not make the mistake of underestimating this game. While it looks like a minigame with it's cartoon-like graphics and simplified control system, the challenge it poses is nothing short of hardcore.
Player vision is strictly limited to a line of sight (further reduced in the New Game Plus mode), and detecting enemies becomes a matter of making full use of the environment and keeping track of visual sound indicators (little circles that radiate outward from the source). There is plenty of emphasis on being able to move silenty and efficiently (making use of narrow pathways, dark areas, etc, in order to avoid detection by enemies).
Unlike the four previous games on our list, Mark of a Ninja is the closet to a minigame in terms of visual presentation. But in terms of gameplay and story delivery, this platformer matches up to its 3D styled peers. And in some cases, it could even be argued that some of the challenges presented in this game a whole lot tougher.