Review by The Mega Cheat
"Same Sam, Smaller Screen"
First thing I'm gonna say is that I'm biased. I'm very biased. I'm a huge fan of every Splinter Cell game, and I've played all of them many many times. Therefore, it is a huge excitement for me to see this game come out for PSP. I will, however, try to be fair in my review, because this game is definitely not perfect.
Any Splinter Cell veteran will recognize this. While Chaos Theory brought big, free-roaming (in a sense) levels to the Splinter Cell universe, this does not. This is a trip back to the olden days of Splinter Cell and Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, where your path is fairly linear and you can fail a mission upon breaking one of your objectives. Some people may not like this, and say it causes too much trial and error, but I like it. I think it forces the player to really get behind the mission, make them think more carefully, and it makes the game more intense. However, this game is not just Pandora Tomorrow with fancy new missions. You'll find some nice surprises from Chaos Theory make an appearance, such as the knife, lethal and non-lethal attacks, the sound gauge, etc. I've yet to see if one of my favorite small glees from Chaos Theory is present, breaking someone's neck while hanging, but I suspect it is. One thing you'll have to get used to is the pace, however. This deals a bit with the controls, but I'll get to that later. Suffice to say, the missions move a tiny bit slower than console versions. In conclusion, however, everything you loved about Pandora Tomorrow (or didn't), with bits of Chaos Theory are present.
This was one of the biggest shocks for me, when playing this game. The graphics of the Splinter Cell console games have been universally appraised, and this falls slightly under the line. Sure, the PSP isn't as powerful as any console, but some things are a little unacceptable. One of the most surprising things was the darkness. In some areas, you're visibility meter is all the way left (invisible), and it's practically bright as day. This bothers me. In the console versions, you can barely see Fisher when it's in that position. Fortunately, this occurrence only happens sometimes, and a majority of times it is rather dark, though not as much as I'd expect. The character models are also nicely detailed, though nothing you haven't seen before. The framerate stays very steady, and all the animations have that same realism that the console versions bring. Some of the environments, however, look a bit messy, especially when you're outside.
Well, you gotta hand it to them. They pulled of Splinter Cell on the PSP. It works, but it'll take some getting used to. Many of the PSP's buttons have a second feature when held down, and it makes for some confusing times, especially early in the game. The camera, which is controlled by the second analog stick on the consoles, is mapped the the O button by default. You can press it to center the camera behind Sam, or hold it to move it freely. You cannot, however, use the camera while Sam is moving, so you have to pause in order to do that. This makes for slower gameplay, like I mentioned earlier, and while slightly annoying, does not really detract from the overall experience.
This game has, by far, the best voice acting for any PSP game. I'm not positive, but it seems that all the voice actors from the console series lend their talent, so Sam is really Sam and Lambert is really Lambert. Not much else to say, other than the music is once again very nice, and the ambient noises and general effects are very nice.
Chaos Theory this ain't, so going through 100%-ing everything or trying to find new, creative paths isn't going to work. I haven't had a chance to give multiplayer a whirl, but it seems it's only Ad-Hoc, Spy Vs Spy deathmatch on only a few maps, so I'm a little flakey about the replay value this title will hold.
Final Verdict: 8/10
For Splinter Cell fans, this is a dream come true. I've been playing this game and enjoying it for what it is, so far. However, quirky controls and some graphical hiccups may be enough to prevent any first time Splinter Cell-ers from jumping in to this fantastic series. I'd say unless you're like me, buy this game. You won't be disappointed. However, if you're more a casual Splinter Cell fan, or haven't ever played a Splinter Cell game, rent this first.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/27/06
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