In 1998 Metal Gear Solid set the bar for stealth and espionage spy games. It gave gamers an alternative kind of action game that requires thought and patience instead of run and gun. Other than Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64 and Tenchu: Stealth Assassin it had very few rivals in the sub-genre. In the twenty years since the Metal Gear series has had four more sequels and several spin-off entries expanding its unique universe.
In addition to the series’ long-awaited sequels, several other games in the stealth genre have become classics in their own right even having a direct influence on the more recent MGS titles. While Metal Gear Solid’s science fiction-based world stands very much alone that doesn’t mean there aren’t other games that aren’t worthy of a Metal Gear fan's attention.
10 The Last Of Us
The Last of Us is one of the best games on both the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation 4. It’s a survival horror game with very accomplished stealth mechanics. The game puts the player in the shoes of two protagonists Joel a battle-hardened fighter and Ellie a 14-year-old girl is a resourceful teenager with an immunity to the Cordyceps fungus that wiped out most of humanity.
Both characters make use of spatial awareness and hearing skills with the Listen Mode mechanic to detect enemies whereabouts and either avoid or take them down. In addition, the game’s dynamic cover system plays a large part in the stealth mechanics.
9 Far Cry 5
All of the Far Cry games have made use of stealth as well as all-out action and gunplay. However, stealth in Far Cry 5 is more polished than ever before. The game’s fictionalized version of Montana is a seemingly limitless open world that expands on many of the environmental outdoor mechanics found in Metal Gear Solid 3.
Enemy NPC’s are more reactive and can recover their partners when shot or they will panic and try escaping if their morale is adversely affected. It gives the player a sense of empowerment and it’s far more satisfying and less time consuming taking out enemy encampments undetected than it is to go in all guns blazing.
8 Thief: Deadly Shadows
Thief: Deadly Shadows is a stealth game from Ion Storm the developers of the original Deus Ex. It was released on the PC and original Xbox in 2004. The game’s biggest draw as a stealth game is that if the protagonist Garrett is caught then he is likely to find himself on the wrong end of a sword.
Unlike Snake or a Sam Fisher, he doesn't handle himself particularly well in a face-on confrontation which forces the player to plan their every move. Thief’s strength comes in accomplishing its goals through the use of evasion, distractions, and lethal or non-lethal stealth takedowns.
7 Shadow Of The Tomb Raider
Since the rebooted Tomb Raider series began in 2013, the game's mechanics have incorporated more stealth and survival skills than ever before. With Shadow of the Tomb Raider, however, stealth is more refined and the now battle-hardened Lara is a bona fide killing machine.
Like Metal Gear Solid 3, Lara is placed in a jungle environment and can use camouflage and fear tactics against her enemies. She can now cover herself with mud like Rambo and blend into the jungle foliage to avoid or escape detection.
6 Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was released in 2011 and as a prequel, it reintroduced gamers to its unique cyberpunk setting that was first introduced in 2000 with the original Deus Ex. Just like its predecessor, Human Revolution gave its players the choice of stealth and/or head-on action.
Of course, tackling enemies like a cybernetic ninja is far more satisfying mostly because of the games layered level design and the tools available. The game’s protagonist Adam Jenson can unlock Augmentations like the Glass-Shield Cloaking System (which works like The Predator's camouflage), Smart Vision which allows Jenson to see through walls, and more making Human Revolution one of the most polished stealth games available.
5 Sniper Elite 4
For all its faults with the storytelling, Metal Gear Solid 5’s open-world was a stealth fan’s dream come true. This is why Sniper Elite 4’s World War 2 set open world is a great match for stealth and sniping fans.
Sniper Elite 4’s is most open the series has been and is quite the sandbox game. It’s not quite as versatile as the recent Hitman games but like that series, experimentation is the game's biggest strength. The ability to get creative by setting up booby traps in doorways and hidden on dead bodies, using environmental noise to shoot enemies. The semi-open environments and near-endless options to get to the target make it as close to a 1943 Hitman and MGS hybrid as a game can get.
4 The Dishonored Series
Dishonored was developed by Arkane Studios released in 2012. The player is placed in the fictional city of Dunwall a Victorian London inspired steampunk world that provides the sandbox for one of the most versatile stealth games ever made. The game shares many of the same gameplay elements as Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the Thief series. However, what sets the series apart from other stealth games is the magic system.
Drawing from their experience with their RPG Arx Fatalis developers Arkane Studios have given the player a nearly endless amount of creative ways to implement stealth and get experimental with enemy takedowns. A notable addition in Dishonored 2 is the Snap Reaction Upgrade which works just like Metal Gear Solid V’s Reflex ability allowing players to slow time when spotted.
3 The Hitman Series
The Hitman series is one of the most intricately designed stealth games ever made. This is especially so in the most recent titles, as every level feels like its own game so much replay value and new challenges unlocking after every completion. Tackling these challenges undetected is like working out a complicated puzzle and is just as satisfying when achieved.
There’s an element of sneaking involved but often players will find themselves hiding in plain sight by using the hundreds of disguises available. Additionally, the series takes its players to some truly stunning and immersive locations such as Marrakesh in Morocco or Santa Fortuna in Columbia.
In many ways, Hitman feels as close to being a James Bond game as it can get. The GAMA Private Hospital in Japan, in particular, feels like a Spectre base that was ripped straight from the pages of Ian Flemming’s Bond books.
2 Batman: Arkham Asylum
Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum series is the first game to fully understand the Batman character. The first game in the series Arkham Asylum is arguably the series’ best when it comes to the execution of the series' stealth mechanics. It’s the first game to make the player actually feel like they are the Batman.
The asylum itself is the perfect platform for Batman to take out his enemies one by one. The Metroidvania style level design with its dark shadows, perches, air ducts and Batman's endless gadgets create near-endless opportunities for the Dark Knight to strike fear into his enemies.
1 Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Series
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Series was designed by Ubisoft to be a rival to the Metal Gear Solid series. Unlike, the science fiction and anime-style mechs found in Snake’s adventures Ubisoft opted to base their series – like the rest of the Tom Clancy series – in the real world.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Splinter Cell: Blacklist offers the player an incredible amount of detail and options in their semi-open level design. Many of the game’s stealth mechanics found their way on to Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes and Phantom Pain so fans of series should feel at home with Splinter Cell.