Source: The supersleuths over at The Gaming Age forums.
What we heard: Ubisoft recently updated www.bewaresamfisher.com, the Web site for Splinter Cell 4. The URL's name was probably originally thought of as a warning to franchise star Sam Fisher, all-American hero and US government special-operative nonpareil.
But new info indicates that it may have been a different kind of caution: Beware of Sam Fisher.
The Flash-based site features three images that piece together parts of the game's upcoming story. Included in the three pics is a newspaper clipping with the headline "Student Killed by Drunk Driver." Reading on, visitors find out that the victim's name is Sarah Fisher, Sam's daughter. A second image shows a black and white photo of what one would presume is Sarah, and the third image is of Sam Fisher's dishonorable discharge from the supersecret spy agency, Third Echelon.
However, that info wasn't enough for one GA forum member. Dissecting the site, it was discovered that the image files were organized sequentially, and s/he eventually found 20 images and posted links to them. Ubisoft responded quickly by renaming the images and rendering the links useless.
The big ruckus? According to the pictures Ubisoft didn't want people to see, Mr. Fisher became a wanted man for robbing banks and was eventually arrested. The most striking piece of evidence (image 1) shows a poster depicting a bald Sam Fisher with "BEWARE" in large print. While gamers are used to Fisher being somewhat of a lone wolf, this image--complete with Fisher bearing a shaved head--makes it seem as though the agent has indeed gone off the deep end.
Further information from the images (which may or may not be authentic) show that Fisher had little or no regard for civilian casualties (even using some as human shields), went on his crime spree armed with an automatic weapon, and after dozens of successful bank robberies, was arrested without incident or resist on his final attempt. These are all things atypical of the gruff-but-patriotic agent.
When asked for comment, a Ubisoft rep played coy, saying only, "Looks like Sam is going through some tough times."
Forum posters immediately hypothesized (some quiet adeptly--developers take note) about the game's upcoming plot. They range from Sam Fisher snapping because of the death of his daughter, to the whole affair being an elaborate cover story to allow him to infiltrate a criminal organization, much like 24 hero Jack Bauer did between the second and third seasons of the espionage-centric television series.
Though the prospect of controlling an unremorseful rogue agent is interesting, don't count on it happening. With antiviolent game bills going into effect next year, in addition to pressure from politicians about gratuitous violence, it's unlikely that Ubisoft would endanger one of its top franchises by making its leading man go loco for no good reason. Then again, you probably never thought you'd see a sickly, 50-year-old Solid Snake running around with a mustache either...
Bogus or not bogus?: He made do some bad things, but count on Sam ending up as the good guy.