Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow
As the son of a retired Philips-employee I have a soft spot for glow-lamps. The first time I played Pandora Tomorrow, it involved a lot of blood, sweat and tears for me. Is Sam still a heartless mercenary when it comes to shooting lights or have my prayers been heard by Ubisoft? You’ll find the answer to this stupid question and more in this review.
I’ll go straight to the point. Sam Fisher still has two left hands making it impossible for him to turn out the glow-lamps. My hair went straight up when I noticed that I couldn’t evolve in the game without shooting those damn lights. Lucky for Sam, he excells in other areas. He is more elastic than an average circus artist and has gadgets to his disposal that will make James Bond blush. These high-tech wannahave’s are probably there to compensate Sam’s less impressive qualities (turning out lamps), but I don’t mind.
Still I will keep on mailing Ubisoft if it isn’t possible to make Sam a little more technical. Just give him some pincers to cut the cables for all I care, the killing of all these lights is just not right, I tell ya!
After the falling of the umpteenth glow-lamp, I became stronger and could finally concentrate on the game. The story plays in 2006 and is again written in the typical Tom Clancy style. The Americans are involved in a conflict in East-Timor. Everything seems to be back to normal when a certain Suhadi Sadono pops up. This Bin Laden wannabe brings every employee of the American embassy in East-Timor to the hereafter and sneaky Sam doesn’t take it to well. Sam is really going to lose it when it’s becoming clear that sadistic Sadono has a worldwide spreading of the smallpocks virus on his to-do list. And the tone for a compelling game is set.
The last Splinter Cell didn’t really have any flaws. The graphics were awesome, the gameplay addictive and the story very fitting. What can we expect in the sequel? More and better! The gameplay has been further expanded. Where you had to equip a special camera to look under doors the last time around, you can now just choose your preferred action. This simplified interface makes for a more open and accesible gameplay. To strengthen this argument, it’s safe to say that even my girlfriend can play Pandora Tomorrow. Says enough, doesn’t it?
You shouldn’t think that it’s all as easy as taking candy from a baby, on the contrary. Pandora Tomorrow works with a new alarm system. Depending on the mission, the alarm may sound one to three times. After the first alarm, guards will wear kevlar vests. When the second alarm sounds, they will also be wearing a helmet and the third and last alarm will result in mission over. The guards have clearly also visited an eye specialist. Therefore make sure you hide your fallen enemies. Because of the somewhat exaggerated AI of the opponents and the fact that you can only save at checkpoints, Pandora Tomorrow also suffers from trial-and-error gameplay. The opinions may differ and I belong to the ones that applaud this kind of gameplay. It may work on your nerves now and then, but the satisfaction you get when succeeding in a mission is really great and exceeds the sporadical irritations.
I mentioned Sam’s fitness earlier on and thanks to his newly learned moves you can really tell that Fisher is a bendy bever. The S.W.A.T turn makes it possible for Sam to move from one side of an open door to the other without being seen. The split jump of the first Splinter Cell is back and better than ever. When Sam is in the split stand, in between to walls, he can force another jump making it possible to reach higher places. The coolest but most useless move is without a doubt the “hanging duck”. Hangin from a pipe, Fisher can hold on to it using only his legs. This way he’s able to shoot ignorant guards. However, sadly but true, this move loses all of its glory because Sam can’t really aim good enough to critically hit his opponents.
The gameplay has mainly remained similar to the sequel and the same goes for the graphics. Everything looks just a little sharper. Unfortunately not all levels are equally breathtaking. The indoor locations for instance are a lot less impressive than the beautiful outdoors (Jakarta). Pandora Tomorrow is still a very good looking game. It’s just that you now and then have the time to squeeze out your nappy instead of drooling even more.
The minor adjustments in singleplayer that still make for a satisfying experience, pale with the major adjustments in multiplayer. Yes, yes, it’s true, Pandora Tomorrow has a multiplayer that can easily be called unique. You have the choice between two teams: the mercenaries and the spies. If you choose to play as a mercenary the action will take place from a first person point of vue. If you rather play stealthy and pick the spies, you will get the same cameraview as in the singleplayer. Both teams have different weapons, making it a real diverse gaming experience.
Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow is the most complete stealth game out there. The combination of breathtaking graphics, improved gameplay and a monster multiplayermode makes this game indispensable. So silently sneak to a nearby gamestore, grab the employee in a stranglehold and demand a free copy. Or take the more conservative road: save some money and buy the game!