10 Best Stealth-Action Games Ever, According To Ranker – Screen Rant

Stealth games are gradually becoming more prominent in modern gaming again, and these are the best 10 classics as voted on by Ranker’s community.
While stealth-action games aren’t as ingrained in the modern-day gaming scene as they were in the 2000s or early 2010s, they look to be slowly making a comeback. The genre provides a unique thrill and addictive qualities that few other genres do, and it has an impressive amount of revered greats in its catalog.
Ranker’s voting community put together a list of their 10 favorite stealth-action games ever. For longtime fans of the genre, these entries shouldn’t surprise as these games range from being popularly regarded as classics or modern classics.
Rocksteady took the Batman IP in video games and revitalized it similar to how Christopher Nolan did in live-action movies, and 2009’s Arkham Asylum was a landmark game for the beloved superhero, the superhero genre, and gaming overall. Asylum, developer Rocksteady, and DC legend Paul Dini put together a new world that draws on some of the best that the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series had to offer.
On top of its cathartic and fast-paced “Freeflow Combat” system, the stealth “Predator” sequences were just as immensely satisfying and immersed players in the cape and cowl of the Dark Knight. Even by today’s standards, Arkham Asylum stands as one of the greatest Batman games.
Hideo Kojima’s brainchild series Metal Gear Solid is arguably one of the most synonymous with the stealth-action genre. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for the PlayStation 2 was critically acclaimed, though, it did initially garner some division for abruptly swapping out Snake for Raiden as the protagonist.
The game’s praises largely went toward its evolutionary leap from the PS1 classic, refining all of the stealth mechanics and graphical presentation. Sons of Liberty still ranks as one of the best Metal Gear Solid games, and it was also praised for being narratively ahead of its time, as it dived heavily into philosophical themes and a world plunged into a politically post-truth era as the Information Age is in full effect. However, the game has simultaneously — and understandably — been critiqued for coming off overwhelmingly convoluted to some.
With Arkham City‘s enduring status as one of the best modern superhero games, it’s unsurprising to still see so many declare it the best of the Batman: Arkham series. The game blended the open-world, action-adventure, and stealth-action genres to a euphoric effect, expanding virtually everything that made Asylum so great and made it better.
Dini’s writing is more than welcome yet again, the graphics were improved, and the Freeflow Combat was even more addictive. Along with this were also the stealth mechanics. Growing Batman’s gadget arsenal and creating even more unique opportunities in Predator sequences make this acclaimed sequel even more engrossing.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a curious case of being simultaneously critically acclaimed and one of the most controversial modern games. Kojima’s finale takes place in the ’80s, but it was meant to bring the overall Metal Gear story full circle.
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The Phantom Pain was lauded for expanding the stealth-action formula of the series onto an open-world canvas and providing an incredible degree of player freedom when it came to approaching a combat situation. However, criticism was given to the story for taking a heavy backseat to the gameplay, confining it mostly to long audio logs, and requiring players to repeat old missions to get the “true” ending.
Konami and Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid helped inspire more stealth-action games, and the likes of Splinter Cell proved to be a thrilling series in its own right. The games are based on author Tom Clancy’s novels, following the exploits of Sam Fisher in the back-ops branch known as Third Echelon.
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Many of the games in the franchise earned critical acclaim, with Pandora Tomorrow being one of the highest performers. The game was praised for maintaining the original’s strong stealth gameplay foundation along with some quality-of-life improvements, as well as modernized graphics and a streamlined story.
Hitman completes a sort of trifecta with Metal Gear and Splinter Cell as stealth-action titans of the medium. As the title suggests, Hitman puts players in the role of an outright assassin rather than a black-ops specialist. The series has also seen renewed success thanks to IO Interactive’s recent well-received reboot trilogy.
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It tasks players to use subterfuge and become a master of disguise to orchestrate accidental-looking assassinations. Blood Money received a strong critical reception, with critics citing the expanded level design of each mission as being well-executed and giving players the tools to be creative and imaginative in their hits.
The original Splinter Cell launched not long after MGS2: Sons of Liberty, and it planted its own flag on the genre. It was deservedly acclaimed for its respective stealth-action approach and its atmosphere.
Praises went to how gameplay felt suitably tense like few other games did and how it advanced the genre in the third-person perspective. Likewise, its visual and graphical presentation was regarded as stunning for the time, particularly when it came to Splinter Cell‘s use of light and shadow effects. That success was certainly warranted, as not only did it spawn several sequels, but it’s set to have a PS5, Xbox Series X|S remake.
While there were Metal Gear games before it, the original Metal Gear Solid jumpstarted what would become a gaming dynasty. The game is arguably the one most responsible for pioneering the stealth-action genre and its mechanics, ushering in Solid Snake as an iconic character in the process.
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The story revolves around Solid Snake having to infiltrate a remote island in Alaska where a terrorist group is threatening nuclear warfare if they aren’t given $1 billion and the remains of Big Boss (MGS3’s Naked Snake). Its stealth gameplay was unlike anything at the time, and it also helped to continue paving the way for more cinematic storytelling in gaming.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was another major milestone for the franchise as it brought the sprawling spy saga back down to earth. The gameplay was lauded for incorporating survival mechanics into stealth and infiltration situations, with protagonist Naked Snake having to use the wilderness around him to survive.
Likewise, Naked Snake and his story were praised for being riveting, emotional, and more grounded. For all that Metal Gear is partly criticized for Kojima’s storytelling being too self-indulgent, Snake Eater felt more streamlined and not thematically convoluted or filled with overwhelming philosophical jargon. All of these components combined for one of the best PS2 action-adventure games.
Even with all the success Splinter Cell saw in its heyday, 2005’s Chaos Theory remains a popular fan favorite for series veterans. The game was a darker turn for the franchise in terms of tone, with Sam Fisher resorting to more lethal tactics in gameplay.
Chaos Theory was acclaimed for evolving from its predecessors, namely in terms of polishing the stealth mechanics to satisfyingly reward strategy more than before while not making the difficulty punishing. As praised as past games were, Chaos Theory shed the “trial-and-error” feel of them for a more refined experience.
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Guillermo Kurten is a journalism graduate from the University of Houston. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, he now resides in Houston. He is a fan of pretty much anything involving nerd culture. Video games, comics, movies, TV, anime, manga, you name it. He also has experience writing about soccer, specifically, the German team Bayern Munich.


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