Were you looking for the Third Echelon Headquarters, the setting this level takes place?
- "It shows you just how much Sam changed that he would even think about going after Third Echelon. He'd been a company man, loyal to the bone. But now, here he was, ready to rip their guts out of the beast. The building's weakness was in the power supply: the main feed and the primary backup ran through the basement parking garage."
- ― Victor Coste[src]
Third Echelon HQ is the eighth solo campaign level in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction. Ex-Splinter Cell agent Sam Fisher infiltrates the Third Echelon Headquarters to access Third Echelon Director Tom Reed's office for information.
Mission Information Edit
- Find the transformer rooms to plan the C4 in them.
- Meet Grim's contact in the office area.
- Reach Reed's office in the restricted area to get the details of his plan.
- Go see what you can find in Anna Grímsdóttir's office.
Mission Overview Edit
Sam is inserted in the lower parking garage by a black SUV driven by a Secret Service agent acting on orders from President Patricia Caldwell. Fisher pops open the back door, humorously letting Anna Grímsdóttir via radio transmission know that he 'smells like a spare tire.' Grím tells Sam that he'll have to sneak past the security in the garage, avoiding detection, and destroy two power transformers in order to breach the Third Echelon Headquarters. To destroy the transformers, Sam brought C-4 explosives with him to place on either transformer to make sure they are disabled for good. Utilizing stealth and covert tactics, Sam placed either C-4 on the two transformers and made his way to the central elevator, riding it up to the entrance of the Third Echelon Headquarters. A storm brews outside, with lightning flashing as Sam walked up to the front desk, where a receptionist was taking a call on the phone. She asks Sam what he needs, to which Fisher replies that he wants to speak to Tom Reed. The receptionist states that Reed is currently unavailable, and asks for Sam's name. Sam states his name, revealing that he used to work there just as he detonated both C-4s in the lower parking garage. The explosion sets off the central alarm system, and Sam takes the opportunity to jump the desk and enter the Third Echelon HQ offices after pushing through a few security guards.
Sam now had to make his way to Grímsdóttir's contact, Charlie Fryman, a Third Echelon tech who was going to give him something important he'll need to reach Reed's office. After some resistance, Sam finds Fryman in the server room where they were set to rendezvous in. Meeting Sam, Fryman is almost unable to contain his enthusiasm as he tells Sam about how much of a legend he is, stating he's a 'big fan'. Sam flatly tells him that 'he's touched' and to get to the point, to which Fryman introduces the Sonar Goggles to Sam, stating how it's 'even better than the ones issued to the Splinter Cells.' Fryman tells Sam that these particular Goggles are specifically calibrated to pick up the laser security frequency that blocks the way to Reed's office. Sam thanks him, asking him if he'll be alright; Fryman assures Sam by stating that he'll be fine, he'll just tell the guards he was out to use the bathroom. With his new equipment, Sam makes his way to Reed's office - utilizing the Sonar Vision to detect the laser system utilized to detect intruders in the further areas.
Fisher finally reaches Reed's office, but instead of finding Tom Reed, he finds Andriy Kobin in his office, talking with Reed on the phone. Sam grabs Kobin and brutally interrogates him for information, eventually learning that Reed had stolen Russian EMP devices smuggled into Washington, D.C. to stage a black out, using the prime opportunity to assassinate President Patricia Caldwell by breaching the White House using both Third Echelon Splinter Cell operatives and Black Arrow soldiers. Kobin further elaborates, revealing that the Vice President, who is in Megiddo's pocket, would take the President's place since Caldwell wouldn't cooperate with Megiddo. After all of this, Reed would be declared a hero and Megiddo would have a powerful stake over the United States of America, bringing the nation under their control. With Kobin giving out all the information he knows, Fisher throws him on the ground, seeing that he was still alive.
Sam tells Grímsdóttir, and afterwards she tells him to call her at her office for long overdone answers. Sam eventually makes it to Grim's office after getting through the Splinter Cell operatives who were acting on Reed's orders. Once inside the office, Sam activates the phone display which brings up Grímsdóttir on the television screen. Grim reveals the truth to Fisher, stating that Irving Lambert, the previous Third Echelon Director - and Sam's best friend - staged Sarah Fisher's death. Fisher calls her out, telling her that she's lying, but Grímsdóttir proves it by having Sam play a message from Lambert to Grímsdóttir. In the audio recording, Irving Lambert says that he had reason to believe that there was a mole in Third Echelon, and someone was going to use Sarah Fisher to gain leverage over Sam. With regret, Lambert states that he lied to Fisher - his best friend, telling him that his daughter died. The fruitless end of it all was that Lambert was never able find out who the mole was; this caused Sam to be filled with frustration and regret over the truth.
All the while, Grímsdóttir tells Sam that he needs to get out of the building now - Tom Reed had activated 'Protocol 2319', a self-destruct protocol, to destroy the entire headquarters in order to kill Fisher and bury the truth. Fisher fights his way through the attacking Splinter Cell operatives and escapes the building, running and making his way to the first EMP device.
- This is the third time Sam Fisher infiltrates a United States agency's headquarters in the Splinter Cell video games, the first being the CIA HQ level from the first Splinter Cell.
- The second mission that involves infiltrating an American agency is in Splinter Cell: Essentials, where Sam breaches NSA headquarters.
- The enemy Splinter Cell operatives encountered in the level use Sonar Goggles and, once encountered, the Sonar activation sound can be hear when they are encountered. Additionally, the player's Last Known Position will display, showing that they can actually detect the player using them.
- During the final sequence, Fisher's 'rage mode' enables an infinite Mark and Execute ability and is also unable to actually die from the Splinter Cell operatives breaking into the building.[verification needed?]
- The starting section of this mission is more in-line with the trilogy and classic Splinter Cell games by having an alarm system causing Mission Failure if the player is detected. This is also the only time during the single player campaign where the player is limited to only using stealth or risk retrying.
- With how the Checkpoint system works, if the player has to retry/restart to the last checkpoint, the two guards who are in the front security booth will only be present when the player is going through and hasn't had to restart/retry.
- This mission has the most security measures in the campaign. Also this is the first time the player encounter enemy with Sonar Goggles.
- During 'the revelation' scene where Fisher learns the truth, the 'projection text' displays his emotions (such as regret and rage).