Review by PazJohn

"Great but flawed"

Before I go any further I would like to say that I have completed this game on both medium and hard difficulty settings. Therefore I am reviewing the game as a complete package. And will compare the difference between the two in this review. This review will also highlight a few AI issues within the game. However there will not be any specific references to anything that happens on any certain level.

Story
I do not want to give much about the game. So I will just say. The story is fine. Nothing ground breaking but it is more than acceptable. I will give this 8.

Graphics
The graphics are amazingly detailed and the character movements are realistic. There is also the whole dynamic lighting, which is very well done. However one of my major gripes with the game is that the environments are full of 40W light bulbs. This is perfectly acceptable on say medium and the first few missions. However I would have really liked the levels to be better lit on the harder difficulty. (Admittedly the level of light increases as the levels progress).

One problem I noticed was that if you are standing in an area of darkness in the middle of a corridor the guards will not see you even if you are forming a Silhouette against a wall behind.

One thing I noticed which I thought was strange in some of the larger rooms if you stay stationary yet rotate the camera the light in the room changes when it has no reason to. Also why can’t the guards see the 3 green lights on Sam’s head? These actually have no bearing on the gameplay and therefore are somewhat irrelevant.

However these are mainly gameplay issues than graphics ones. So I will ignore them in the graphics score of 9.

Sound
This is very good in the whole. The fact that the game must be quiet throughout means that there is not that much in the line of sound. 8.

Gameplay
This is the most important factor. The game is very well balanced through out and has a very good learning curve. The game offers a number of different ways to tackle each situation. (When I returned to the game a second time I kicked myself in some places as a much stealthy and safer alternative was staring me in the face which I often missed the first time). I actually think it is possible to play through the entire game without raising a single alarm or even being noticed. (But you would have to be incredibly good). If you bare this thought in mind and apply it to every situation I would say that Splinter cell is the best puzzle game ever made.

My main problem with the game is the AI. The guards all have quite simple set routes but I guess that is unavoidable. However there are some things which are just silly. If you shoot out all the lights in a room the guards do not notice the room is dark and try to find the light switch. Instead they notice each broken light independently. Yet when you turn the lights out, they go for the switch.

If you knock someone out when he or she are talking to somebody else the other does not always realise that his friend has been knocked out and carries on regardless.

Also on hard I would have liked more guards and perhaps more cameras as I completed the game on hard with out any difficulty as it is essentially the same game. If you worked out a way to solve a room on normal without using any gadgets it works on hard to. This is because the gadgets used for violence are less effective on hard. But I never found them that effective on normal either. There was always another way. I also liked that fact you could do the same thing a number of times and the guards would act differentially.

Referring back to items. You can pick things up from the surroundings. But why are the guards alerted when the can or bottle leaves your hand and not when it hits the floor? This is such a good idea but it has not being implemented very well

The gameplay is generally very good. However I purposely tested the AI in many situations and found a number of things to be a bit inconsistent. In some circumstances the guards are hawk eyed and intelligent and others blind and stupid. 7

Overall
As gameplay is the only important factor in my eyes, 7.

Summary
The game is definitely worthy of being purchased. And because it offers many solutions to each puzzle it is highly interesting the first time you play it. However it is a little hard which means you will probably die repeatedly until you find the best solution too the problem. Thus almost destroying the replay value.

I bought this game second hand. Completed it and sold it. When it was in my possession I loved it and played it non-stop but it never had that little something begging me to keep it.

I advise people to do the same as me as this is cheaper than hiring a game and once you have got into this game you will not want to put it down until it is over.

PazJohn.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/11/03, Updated 02/11/03


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