Review by Lunadea
"A game so stealthy that it's making me paranoid."
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is a stealth game that is famous for being one of the best in its genre. In fact, it's good enough to make you wish you were Sam Fisher, doing all those cool missions. Unless he gets discovered and shot to death, of course.
Graphics - (9/10)
Although the graphics aren't Final Fantasy X-esque, it's still very, very good. The amount of detail is perfect for a game like itself, and most importantly, it's realistic. Shadowed and lighted areas are distinct from each other and look pretty much like it would in real life. Other effects like flames, moving shadows (such as trees leaves swaying) and smoke are all about as real-looking as they can get in a game. Also, the detail on people are adequate and although most enemies have emotionless faces, they still look reasonably good (i.e. you can tell some of them apart).
The environment is also nicely done, from building tops to oil refineries. Water effects are quite realistic, and when Sam wades through ponds the ripples look awesome.
Gameplay - (10/10)
The gameplay in Splinter Cell is what makes it truly stand out. Depending on what your style is, you could either kill or KO every enemy you come across, or you could sneak past them. Stealth often demands a different route or a different way of getting past a certain area than if you choose to assault the enemy; and often it's interesting just to find different ways of getting past the same place.
Gunfights are not common in Splinter Cell, but they do occur. The array of weapons Sam gets provides him with more than enough choices for taking an enemy down; and often it's fun finding ways to get rid of the opponents as easily as possible. Hmm, frag grenade or a shower of bullets from the SC-20K? The choice is yours and no matter what you choose, it's sure to be interesting.
Much of the time, however, you'll be hiding away. In this case, you'll start seeing why this game is so amazing. The stealthiness of every move you make is recorded by your stealth meter, and you'll find yourself ducking for cover in the darkness or even blowing out lights to create an idea hiding place. You can climb pipes to hang over an enemy and make a quick, undetected kill or KO, or you could just go right on by. There's even things like Sticky Shockers (which shock the victim) and Diversion Cameras (which can whistle to lure an enemy to it, and then release a gas to knock 'em out) if you wanted to sneakily get rid of someone. Also, you can back up against a wall to lower detection, or just to edge through narrow areas. Small details such as increasing or decreasing your walking speed changes how an enemy responds to your presence, and can mean the difference between getting discovered or successfully grabbing the enemy before they know what's going on. There's tons of moves that Sam can do, and the gameplay is so realistic, it seems like someone could really be doing all this.
Sound - (8/10)
There's not much background music in this game, but there's really no need for it. The general bg music is usually very quiet, and when you get detected by the enemy it gets speedier and more urgent. During shootouts, the music rises and becomes quite loud and exciting. It pretty much follows the situation. From what I've heard, the music seems to be the same for every area so although there's not much variation, you don't get confused about whether nothing's happening or whether the enemy's already found you.
The voice acting is excellent. Sam's voice is perfect and fits his sarcastic personality, while Lambert's is so nonchalant that it's amusing just listening to their witty conversations. The voices of the enemies are also fitting, though they don't usually say much except 'Who's there?!' and 'Oh my God!'. Even the dog noises are perfect, though it does get annoying when you get barked at for 10 minutes while trying to find a good way to shut it up forever without letting its owner notice.
Story - (8/10)
The storyline is believable, which is unusual for a game like this. Basically, Sam Fisher is a former OP that was called back to work for Third Echelon (a national security sort of thing) and goes on missions to help save the world. Which isn't quite as far-fetched as it sounds, because the aftereffects of each of his successful missions help prevent some kind of terrorism from going on in the world. The setting is 2003-2004, and takes place in areas all over the world. Although the plot isn't very deep, it's satisfying enough.
Controls - (10/10)
I can't really say much against the controls for this game. Everything's easily configured, and the way you get to move the camera angle via the mouse really helps. Sam responds quickly to controls, and shooting is a cinch with his sniper mode. However, you have to hold your breath to steady your aim first, but when your aim is steady it's amazing how easily you can shoot someone's brains out.
Replay Value - (7/10)
After you beat the game, there's really nothing more to do, unless you want to go through a certain level again to try and find a different way of doing things. There's no secrets, and the only thing you get to do is replay each level individually as much as you like.
Final Rating - (9/10)
Splinter Cell is definitely the game that 'redefines stealth action'. It's incredibly stealthy and every move requires careful thinking and planning to avoid detection or alarms. I must say that this has really opened my eyes to this genre, and I'll be looking out for other games like this in the future.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/17/06, Updated 05/30/07
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