Review by Cybiolink8000

"I alone have the fifth freedom......I am a Splinter Cell"

Introduction
Only once in a while, usually after a new system comes out, a game comes out that breaks the rules; it re-define's what a good game should be. Sometimes it's not the whole game, and sometimes it is. Splinter Cell is one of those games, and the Graphics are nothing short of stunning. Splinter Cell is a Stealth game, and possibly requires the most stealth movements to complete ever in one game. Make no mistake, this is far different from the Metal Gear Solid series. The MGS series games offer more action and the games revolve around the story. The story in Splinter Cell is pretty much an average story for a video game. What is so good about the game, is how you lurk in shadows and sneak up to enemies are grab them at gunpoint.

Graphics - 10/10
Probably the best graphics ever in any video game so far(most realistic). From lighting to textures, everything looks great. Animations are smooth, and never seem to be interrupted by any event that could change the current animation. So, you feel more like Sam Fisher than a person controlling him and is really the high point of the game. The stealth action comes close, but this game is made by the outstanding graphics. Without the lighting, hi-resolution textures and everything else that makes the game look so good, the game would be good, but you wouldn't feel as involved as you do with the top-notch graphics and fluid animations.

Sound - 9/10
Not much to complain about here besides ''more sound''. Sam's sound effects are cool and the game is filled with other various effects such as fire and shattering glass. It all sounds great. The music goes well with the game, because it too sounds good. A cool little thing, is that the music gets faster depending what state guards are in and if they are looking for you or not. There are some mood setting pieces of music that occur at key points, and they really add to the whole spy part of the game. Perfect sneaking music, if you will. The sound seems to keep up with the rest of the game and offers extras such as enemy comments and radio chatter that isn't always information, just entertaining.

Control - 8/10
Splinter Cell's controls are pretty good, with only a few minor annoyances. When you have your back to a wall, for example, you can't equip or switch any weapons or ammo. I don't see why you can't, and I think you should be able to. Instead, you have to take your back off the wall, then equip or switch weapons or ammo, then if you still want to, go back to the wall. It's just a waste of time, and can sometimes ruin a stealth kill or a plan you were going to execute. When playing Splinter Cell, you'll notice that when you press a button on the controller, it doesn't always respond in the game, and that may or may not be the game's fault rather than the controller's. You have to press in buttons deep and hard, so I guess that means there is no pressure sensitivity other than the analog sticks or the triggers when throwing objects. It's kind of a good thing too, because you won't accidentally shoot or something, and give away to your presence and position to enemies. It's kind of like having the safety on, on your gun.

Gameplay - 8/10
Simply put, this game is hard. Each level is like a puzzle. You'll play through each level dozens of times trying to figure out how to correctly pass a part that you just failed or just learning what things you did wrong that made you fail. It's not just the ''puzzles'' that make the game hard. In around half the levels, you aren't allowed to kill anyone, even people who are shooting at you. So if you get shot at by a guard that found you, you have to run or hide instead of defending yourself. Even in the levels where you can kill soldiers, sometimes your shots don't do damage on them when you clearly shot them. For example, if a soldier sees you and you shoot him in the stomach, he will duck and if you shoot him while he is ducking(even in the neck) it does nothing to hurt him. Also, enemies don't have any wounded/death animations, they just fall over and die in less than a second. They never even yell when they get shot. What, are they not human? It can get very annoying when your shots do nothing, especially in the earlier levels where your ammo is limited and their bullets do so much damage to you, so it really adds up fast. Yes I know this game is about stealth, but you must admit, no one is perfect. There are times when some guard will spot you and start shooting, so you gotta shoot back(In the levels where killing soldiers is okay). This will happen more than you think, especially if you are used to the run and gun type of games. Another complaint, is that if you are hiding in the dark, and a patrolling guard walks near you(very close) he will automatically know it is an enemy and start shooting at you. You could argue that is real, but if you were a guard, would you shoot at something in the dark without even checking it out? That's what flashlights are for! Some guards do have them, but I think they all should. Anyway's, enough about that. When you finish a level, there are 3 slots to save your game in(3 slots for every game, so If your little brother plays Splinter Cell too, don't worry. He has his own 3 slots), but there are also checkpoints in every level that also give you a chance to save if you want. So if you've played games like Resident Evil, you might be paranoid about saving over a slot you saved an hour ago, cause if you waste all your ammo or something like that, you'll have to load another earlier checkpoint or restart the level. Each slot tells you the time that it was saved, so you can see which one you should save over. I recommend saving in the 1st slot, then the 2nd, then the 3rd and keep repeating this as you save. I say this because when you load a game it will highlight the slot you last saved in, so you know where to save next, and if you forget because you get too into the game, then you can just check the times, so it all works out good. I believe Splinter Cell is the most Stealth reliant game out to date, and even more than the Metal Gear Solid series. So if you want stealth, this should be a top choice.

Story - 8/10
Nothing out of the ordinary. You are a Splinter Cell named ''Sam Fisher''. You just play each level usually gathering intelligence or data. Some of the levels are linked by similarities in the missions, but you don't even think of the story as you play through the game. You probably won't even care what you're trying to accomplish, because you'll be admiring the nice graphics and playing with gadgets(This game is no James Bond game, but you do get a few things). The story isn't bad, and it isn't good, it's just okay, but you wouldn't buy this game for the story anyway's. There are a few interesting things, like sometimes you need to access a certain computer, and when you do, whatever you find will be your next mission.

Extras - 9/10
The cool thing about extra features for this Splinter Cell(The Xbox version), is that you can download new levels from Xbox live! That is good and bad. All you people without Xbox live and also without a broadband connection, you'll have to get those before you can download anything. But if you do have these items, you can download ''Kola Cell'' for free. The other bad thing is that the other few levels that are going to be downloadable, will cost a fee for you to download. It's not too much though. I heard it was only a few dollars for each level. But don't start crying yet! In the near future, these levels, or at least ''Kola Cell'', will be available to purchase as an add-up disk, or they might come in a future issue of OXM(Official Xbox Magazine) I forget which, but look forward to that if you don't have Xbox live or broadband and are willing to pay for the extra levels. Also, in the Extras section on the main menu, there are a few videos, and some facts , but I'll leave that for you to find. ;)

Final Recommendation - 9/10
If you're looking for a stealth game, and you want a challenge, get this game. If you're a run and gun type of gamer, then you might not like this style of game. Splinter Cell is a good game, but with a few flaws, and it makes a good addition to a collection, but you might find yourself only playing it every once in a while because of the flaws and because it's hard. You usually have to progress slowly through each level, so if you don't like the sound of that, you should rent Splinter Cell first if you're slightly interested in it.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/16/03, Updated 04/18/03


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