Review by Grevious1991

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

In a matter of a year and a half Ubisoft has managed to cough up another sequel for their bestselling stealth title Splinter Cell. This time however a next generation version was released as well, for the Xbox 360. Many Splinter Cell veterans were disappointed at how the 360 version turned out, for example many of its levels were in daylight and shadows were well…not there. Then the current generation version comes out a week later. Many people were expecting a crappy port (*cough* GRAW *cough*), but what we got was pretty amazing.

Graphics 9/10-Everyone knows that the graphics seen in the 360 version couldn't be done on the Xbox. The question was however, how much worse would they look? Well they basically look the same as the Xbox version of Chaos Theory, maybe even better.

The skin textures look a lot smoother making for a more realistic feel. As a matter of fact everything looks a lot smoother this time around. The original Splinter Cell animations are there including a couple of new ones. The lighting effects, as always, are amazing and the shadows look a lot better than the ones in Chaos Theory. The frame rate remains very smooth throughout the game. Ignore the rumors that it looks worse than Chaos Theory, because it doesn't. As a matter of fact I experienced no slow down whatsoever. Overall, the graphics look excellent and players will not be disappointed.

Sound/Music 9/10-Longtime Splinter Cell players will notice that many of the sounds have been recycled, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Voice acting as always is top notch (well…excluding Pandora Tomorrow). As a matter of fact I noticed a lot more dialogue from Sam in the original Xbox version than in the 360 version (interrogations, cutscenes) which is weird. The music is excellent as well and fits the darker story. The emotional bits were especially good, and the music in the final cutscene was badass.

Story 8/10-The story is definitely darker than previous Splinter Cell games. While playing the 360 version I constantly found myself scratching my head trying to figure out the major story points. Well… for some reason the story is told much better in this version (extra cutscenes, more dialogue), which is really weird considering it's an inferior console.

The story starts when Sam Fisher is pulled out of a mission because his daughter was killed by a drunk driver. Emotionally in shambles and on the verge of a break down Lambert sends him on the most dangerous mission of his life. He has to infiltrate a terrorist organization called the JBA (John Brown's Army) while undercover as a double agent. The story eventually leads up to an awesome climax which I won't reveal. I still wanted more though and felt they could have tied some thing up/told it better.

Gameplay 9/10- Absolutely horrendous…just kidding. It's almost identical to Chaos Theory with the addition of some new moves, and animations. Unlike the 360 version, the light and sound meters are back (the thing on Sam's back in the 360 version was just cheap). There is even a meter that shows how much each blast from the OCP lasts. The controls will feel very familiar to vets of the series as well.

There are a total of 9 single player missions in all and they all take place in the same settings as the 360 version (besides Shanghai). Instead of Shanghai the Xbox version gets a level in the subways of New York. The level design however is completely different, making both versions feel like completely different games. Only one of the nine levels takes place in the daytime, and even that level is mostly indoors (I hated all of the daylight levels in the 360 version) A couple of levels force you to use no gear whatsoever (goggles, guns) bringing stealth to a whole new level. At the end of each level how many guards you killed, KO'ed, etc. comes up, there is no percentage rating though (wtf?)

There are only two missions that take place inside the JBA headquarters, and they are not timed. If you are found while sneaking around the JBA HQ you will be prompted to do a button combo. One combo is to knock your opponent out, the other is two grab them. They can make for some tense moments especially when you are surrounded by more than one guard.

In game co-op is also featured many times throughout the single player campaign. The AI is surprisingly very smart. For example they will only stay in the shadows, when in combat they go for headshots, they seem to monitor how much sound they make, and they execute co-op moves very well. You don't have to watch out for them all the time, which is a relief.

A new addition called the truth meter is here as well. What objectives you chose to do impact whether the meter sways over to the JBA side, or the NSA side. For example, the JBA tells you that you have to kill and man but the NSA forbids it. If you kill him you get more gear, but if you don't kill you will have a harder time at things. The system forces you to weigh the actions with the consequence. The meter will lean toward whatever side you seem to favor most. There around many times throughout the game where your have to make these type of decisions. It makes you think before you act, which brings a whole new depth to the game.

New gadgets include a black light that detects fingerprints, EMP bullets to disable lights permanently, and a pistol that shoots rubber balls (hey…its actually pretty useful). One of the new moves includes grabbing someone and pulling them into water, which subsequently drowns them. You can also grab someone through ice or glass. The new hacking system takes a little getting use to, but once understood it's pretty simple. There is no swimming, no underwater combat, there is no skydiving, and there is no wall grab like in the 360 version. Don't worry nothing has been removed from Chaos Theory, just added upon.

The truth system is a welcomed addition but everything else basically remains the same. No complaints here, “if it ain't broke don't fix it”.

Replay 8/10-The single player portion has a vast amount of replay value considering you can go through it multiple times each making different decisions. Its fun to watch how they all play out. The Spy vs. Spy option is ok, but not the same as Spies vs. Mercs (but what does it matter anyway…all I have to do is pop in Chaos Theory to play that). Co-op is really good however. The co-op spans 15 levels and is vastly enjoyable. Each level is about 1/3 the length of the co-op levels from Chaos Theory so it's not as long as it sounds. Its still fun nevertheless.

Pros
+ great graphics
+ solid gameplay
+ diverse levels
+ intense story
+ trust meter
+ co-op

Cons
- no spies vs. mercs
- no underwater combat, or skydiving
- no percentage ratings

You can probably tell I am biased and enjoyed the Xbox version much more than the 360 version, but what the heck. The game can last anywhere from 8-12 hours if played so that everything is completed, then there is the replay value. This game is a keeper if you love Splinter Cell, rent it if you're not too sure.

Final Score-8.6/10 which rounds to 9/10



Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/30/06


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