Review by d0x

"Single player is good, Multiplayer is amazing!"

Splinter Cell took the Xbox world by storm when it was released. It was the first realistic Spy adventure, and to most people it was and still is the best. Enter Pandora Tomorrow, more of the same, and some new additions and tweaks, read on!

Graphics

The original Splinter Cell was something pretty to look at in almost every respect. UBI has seen fit to enhance already top notch visuals, at least if you own an Xbox or PC, sorry PS2 and GCN owners your version still isn’t even close…or even out yet for that matter.

The lighting engine in Pandora Tomorrow is to die for (if you’re a gamer anyways), it’s been tweaked to a level unseen on Xbox to date. Lights are dynamic and cast perfect real-time shadows in every situation and most can be shot out to give you extra cover. They aren’t just an eye candy gimmick either they are a game play mechanic not only for single player, but also for multiplayer, more on that later.

Lighting aside this game looks fantastic, everything has been reworked from textures to animation it’s all better in some way. For me the biggest oooo’s and ahhhh’s came from the outdoor areas, the grass moves with you and offers cover for your movements, the water looks real and reacts as it should to your movements, its also another game play mechanic, leave someone under the water to long and they will die, Mission Over!

You can tell the development team also took the look and feed of the locations into consideration, not only do buildings look how they should in any given area, so do lighting fixtures and any art work on the walls, the clothes people where, the things they say, and even the ways they might move during certain situations. Everything has been painstaking recreated for our gaming pleasure so you can rest assured your seeing another Splinter Cell that’s worthy of its name.

Sound

Sound is good, the 5.1 mix is incredible and it’s another game play mechanic. There is also a matrix’ed 7.1 mix if you have the equipment you can pinpoint people by the noise they make so you don’t have to take the risk of hunting them down with your eyes. Environmental audio is also immersive with wind blowing, trees moving, birds flying, it’s all here. Voice work is another excellent area, Sam Fisher is again acted by Michael Ironside, and he has a very gruff voice which just fits the Sam Character perfectly. Dennis Haysbert has taken over the role of Lambert, I always liked the original guy but you have to admit Haysbert does an excellent job. Beyond that the rest of the voice work is so so, not great but not bad either, it’s not movie caliber but it serves its purpose and continues to keep the player immersed in a wonderful blanket of sound.

Control

Once again Sam controls with ease, moving him around at any speed is never a chore. The hardest aspect of the game is lining up your jumps but that’s pretty much the way it is with all games so it can be overlooked. Aiming has been made easier and a little more precise with the new laser site. If an NPC sees it they will investigate, but since you can shut it off it will be your fault if you’re busted for using it. In addition to the laser Sam can now do Swat turns which allow you to quickly sneak past any door undetected which is great because in the 1st game you could get yourself in some really big unnecessary jams trying to sneak past heavily guarded doorways. You can also now hang upside down from pipes to get a better shot, or you can use the half split jump to get up into higher areas or again to get the best shot possible, you can use these moves in a lot of areas unlike the original when you had only a couple chances to use your special moves.

Multiplayer

Oh my addiction. Once you start chances are you won’t want to ever stop. The multiplayer in Pandora Tomorrow is as close to flawless and fun as possible, even if you didn’t like the original Splinter Cell, the MP alone is your justification to own this amazing game.

You can be either a Spy or Mercenary. The spy mode is played via the 3rd person perspective, same as the single player game. It isn’t exactly the same though, you have no bullets, they are replaced by sticky shockers, smoke bombs, chaff and flash grenades, spy bullets which allow you to track and listen to Mercenaries, and my favorite the alarm snares which not only makes misdirection possible, they make it incredibly enjoyable to watch. There is nothing like setting off an Alarm and watching a Mercenary search while you’re going the other direction straight to a now unguarded objective.

You can take Mercenaries down in a number of ways, you can always grab them from behind and kill them or put them to sleep but the real way to go is avoidance. Only engage a Mercenary if you’re forced to, never go commando on them and try to kill them. Why you say? Simple, while the skilled Spy can easily kill a lesser Mercenary it’s not such a good idea. First of all it gives away your position, second if you do kill them they get all their supplies filled, which means the game will be harder for you. Yes its fun to grab a Mercenary from behind and talk to him, making him know who is superior, but its pointless and an all around bad idea when he sets 3 more mines and blows you up.

Mercenaries play the game from a 1st person perspective, almost identical to Rainbow 6 on Xbox. They have a basic HUD which has a radar, ammo count and health. They come equipped with the usual plus some mines, and traps to make getting to and killing Spies a whole lot easier. There isn’t much to explain here, the Mercenaries mission is to kill the Spies, the real meat of playing with them is tactics and communication, and if you don’t talk to your partner constantly you should prepare to be dominated. Mercenaries do have tools to counteract the spies obvious advantages, they come with 2 vision modes. One detects motion which is very important for those dark areas that your flash light just doesn’t do the trick in. The other is for detecting EM Fields, which means anything that uses electricity be it a coke machine, sticky cam, or a Spies goggles when active will show up giving you the perfect opportunity to engage.

All in all the Multiplayer is fun in every respect, and it gets even better if you find someone who you play well with, making up tactics is all part of the game, skill isn’t so much a factor, sure its great to have good aim, or good evasion abilities, but it all goes out the window when the opposing team has a game plan and you and your partner are just randomly running around like lost children at the Mall.

Overall

Buy it now, don’t wait to finish this review or even for the Store to open. If you have XBL you will enjoy yourselves for months if not YEARS to come. If you don’t have XBL get it, if you cant I will cry for you 1st and then tell you the following. The single player offers an enjoyable experience that should not be passed on. The story is well done and makes sense unlike some “stealth” games, the graphics are a sight to see, the sound is spot on and it’s just a fun enjoyable game which can be played multiple times due to many routes in the maps.

Graphics-9
Sound-8
Control-8
Replay-10
Overall-9 (not an average)


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/08/04


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