Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell
Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock the last couple of months knows Splinter Cell and its main figure, Sam Fisher. The game knew how to break some legs in the autumn of 2002 on Xbox and even our reviewer Charles was impressed. Xbox looked like it would have a major hit as the game was supposed to be exclusive for Microsoft’s green box. Fortunately a little later we got the announcement that also owners of PC and other consoles would be able to enjoy this title. I, Asqwanka, was happy as a child in a candy store when this game landed in my mailbox, wether Splinter Cell tasted as a nice sweet candy you’ll read in this review.
Your name is Sam Fisher, you work for the NSA and have to go on the road to do some dirty work without leaving a trace. The attempt for humour is the only negative thing you’ll find in this review, seeing that Splinter Cell was a jewel on Xbox and remains that on PS2.
Many, myself included, were scared that Ubi Soft would choose the cheap and simple solution and do a direct port to other platforms. Luckily they didn’t, even better… they enhanced the game on several points on which Xbox gamers complained about. There are more and better cutscenes and the gameplay is less lineair. Not all downpoints have been improved and the weak save system is not replaced on PS2. With the PC version you now can use a quick save option but console owners unfortunately have to do without. Ubi even added one mission to whole, a mission which plays in a nuclear plant and which adds a couple of hours of pleasure.
The name is Fisher… Sam Fisher. In Splinter Cell, Sam has a lot of resemblences with that other secret agent, James Bond aka 07. This is because of the huge amount of cool gadgets our hero has, varying from a lock pick to an optic camera which is very handy when you don’t know what on the other side of the door. Splinter Cell may be a stealth game but you also have a (small but good) arsenal of weaponry. At the start you’ll have to be satisfied with a simple 9mm gun but later in the game you’ll have the pleasure of holding a big SC-20K in your hands.
In contradiction with what many had feared, SC may be a stealth game but one with cool missions. As known, the game has some magnificent light and shadow effects, but these aren’t there solely to satisfy the eye, they also have a critical role in the game. In several missions you have to get your target without turning on even one alarm. To manage this, you’ll have to hide your victims in a dark alley and often have to shoot a light or camera.
Logically, you’re not allowed to make any noise if you want to end a mission in one piece so the sound has a key role in this game. If an enemy hears your footstept, the sound will change towards an exciting thriller beat which will stay until the danger is gone. Also you can get the guards on the wrong leg by taking objects and throwing them away. They’ll check out what caused the noise and meanwhile you can snipe into a building unnoticed.
That Splinter Cell graphically is top notch is something that was known already for a while so nobody would mind if things would look even a bit better than on the Xbox. The lighting effects are of a never-before-seen quality and the game pushes everything out of the PS2. Even with the normal surroundings your jaw will fall on the floor from time to time because of the beauty of everything. Unfortunately there are some minor glitches like Sam’s arm which disappears halfway a wall and bodies that do the same. All in all though, Splinter Cell almost reaches perfection !
The AI and level design give you the necessary challenge. The AI is clearly adapted to the controller: it’s logically that you can’t shoot as precise with a controller as with mouse and keyboard. You’ll never see an enemy walking against the wall, but he isn’t really smart either. Towards the end the foes are a bit harder to fool because they’ll be equipped with a flashlight (and your white skin can’t handle bright light ? – edit.). Quickly hiding in a dark corner is no longer an option and when you’re noticed, you’ll see the end coming closer a lot faster. The computer controlled adversaries have traded their pistol for a machine gun aswell. You be warned …
What makes a game good or bad ? The gameplay of course, and I can tell you immediately not to worry as this has been worked out beautifully. Our sniping assassin moves a gentle as a predator and also there’s several special moves which make the whole thing a lot more pleasant. For instance you’ve got a walljump where Sam jumps between 2 narrow walls and spreads his legs once he reaches the top of his jump. Such movements are of course very nifty to do and only enhance the fun factor (but definitely hurt your nuts – edit.). Also the camera view doesn’t fuck this all up, Splinter Cell is played in third person view and by use of the right analogue stick you can turn the camera the way you want. This way you can even look around walls, which of course comes in handy in certain situations.
U read it, with this game I’m really pleased. Splinter Cell equalled with certain moments even the feeling I had with Metal Gear Solid in its time, but unfortunately couldn’t keep up this high level. Of course, it’s hard to compete with a title which made my personal Top3 of all time. Splinter Cell is a game which everyone should get and which will give everyone a very pleasant experience, you know what you’re going to get… a top game. I would like to finish this review with the words of an English friend which at certain moments are really to the point: “If this game were any more realistic, you’d have to hold in your farts.”