Review by lordarc

"As the hunter stalks his prey..."

Wow, I have never sat so close to the TV in my life. That is what this game does to you. It throws you into the role of a CIA super spy assigned to neutralize a foreign threat without causing a war. However, unlike most other 'Stealth' orientated games, If you are seen, especially by more than one person, you are pretty much screwed. It is absolutely intense. But the point is NOT to be seen. The beauty of this game is sitting crouched in a shadow off in some corner studying the motions and patterns of multiple guards in an area. It makes you actually feel like a hunter stalking his prey.

Graphics:
You know the deal, the rendered shadows and lighting effects are absolutely gorgeous. So is the level of detail, everywhere you go looks just like you would expect it to. The only problem is that the polygon counts, especially on Sam and his human enemies is rather low, especially by the Xbox's standards.
Score: 9

Gameplay:
Sure there are no branching paths, and sometimes you aren't left with many options on how to neutralize a situation (you can't exactly go into an area guns a blazin'). But there is a massive amount of strategy involved. Some complain that it is trial and error, but a lot of games are trial and error. The only difference is if you 'error' in Splinter Cell it usually means death, as opposed to going back a room and having all the blocks reset. Fortunately you are given a pretty large arsenal of neat gadgets, some of the cooler ones include Wall mines, diversion cameras, and sticky shockers. All these gadgets give the player different options on how to approach an area. Of course often the best way to handle a situation is simply to shoot out the lights, or throw a soda can.
Score: 9

Control / Interaction / AI:
The control scheme is essentially the same as Halo. I have no gripes in the control scheme. One of the coolest parts about Splinter Cell is how the game forces you to maneuver from area to area, and the cinematic experiences this creates. You rarely go in through the front door, rather its more likely you will be forced to climb an eve trough and enter through an unlocked window. The enemies have their problems though. My absolute biggest gripe is that if you shoot someone, no matter how far away, they automatically know where you are at, and proceed to fire back. Head shots are key. Another strange thing is they will stand over and stare at a freshly killed corpse while you proceed to sneak up from behind, or just shoot them in the head. Also if you shoot out a light right in front of the guard, and he doesn't find you he will eventually act like nothing happened.
score: 8

Story:
If you find you self being too concerned about the story, you are playing it for the wrong reasons. The story is more than adequate. You can defiantly tell this isn't a Japanese game, whether or not this is good is up to you. Essentially a Georgian leader, and Chinese militants want to start a war with the US, and you need to stop them before the situation escalates to war. This game does contain one of, what I think to be, the coolest story elements I've seen in a game. ++probably not a spoiler, but I'll mark it anyway++ In one instance your sitting ducked in a corner, and two guards come by discussing the legitimacy of stories of an American super spy.
score: 8

Sound / Music / Voice:
The music catches you in the opening scene. It sets the mood perfectly. Throughout the game, however, the music seems recycled. Fortunately it's good enough that it doesn't subtract from the game. The sound effect are very good. Each surface, and item makes a different sound. The voice is above average. It's not of Soul Reaver quality, but its good enough
score: 8

Pros:
- Beautiful Graphic effects
- Very well designed levels
- Wide assortment of gadgets
- lots of ways to approach situations

Cons:
- There is trial and error
- Enemies sometimes react dumbly

Overall:
This is truly a great game. The only people I wouldn't recommend it to are people who don't have patients, or people who prefer just to go in and shoot up everyone in the room. Thought most of the game I found myself sitting about 8 inches from the TV, and jumping from the slightest background noise. This is also the first game I have EVER played that gave me a sense of accomplishment. It also offers some of the greatest individual cinematic experiences in a video game.
Final score: 9


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/20/02, Updated 12/20/02


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