Review by horror_spooky

Reviewed: 06/08/11

Sam Fisher enters another dimension

The early days of the 3DS have been defined almost entirely by remastered versions of old games. Hell, the most highly-acclaimed game on the system at launch, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, is merely a portable version of Super Street Fighter IV with spiffy 3D visuals. Ubisoft released a completely original game with Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, and they've also ported a couple of classics from their library. They brought Rayman 2 to the 3DS, and now they've given the 3DS a portable version of one of the most beloved Splinter Cell games ever, Chaos Theory--in the form of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D.

Splinter Cell 3D is plagued by numerous, numerous problems. The most glaringly apparent of these issues is the fact that Ubisoft has cut out features from Splinter Cell 3D. The online multiplayer featured in the console versions of Chaos Theory is completely absent. Ubisoft has also decided to axe one of the most beloved modes in Chaos Theory, which is the co-op mode. Ouch. This essentially cripples the replayability factor in the game. With the co-op and online multiplayer taken out, the only thing left for gamers is the campaign, and with the entire game resting on the campaign, it needs to be one very good campaign.

Normally, the campaign in Chaos Theory IS very good. That's not the case with Splinter Cell 3D. That's mainly due to the controls. While the meat and potatoes of the game are still there for the single-player experience, the controls seriously hinder any chance at enjoyment. Splinter Cell 3D uses an aiming system similar to how a game of this nature would work on the Nintendo 64. Players control Sam Fisher using the circle pad, but control the camera using the four face buttons. This makes fast-paced situations nearly impossible. And it makes using Sam's cool gadgets like the sticky camera a huge chore.

A lot of the game is controlled using the touch-screen as well. I usually love it when games on the DS or the 3DS use the unique features of the handhelds, but not when it is done in a horrible fashion. Each combat situation is going to have to be handled using only the weapon that you approach enemies with in the first place. This keeps combat from having any depth. It's difficult to go from moving Sam to quickly equip a weapon, let alone equip a weapon and then deal with the particular attachment that you need to use. It's a mess; fumbling with the 3DS is not fun.

A game this complicated just doesn't belong on the system. I don't understand what the logic is trying to stuff a game that NEEDS the different buttons on a console's controller onto a handheld with limited buttons. I guess it's just a cheap buck--and it shows.

Besides the touch-screen and the face buttons, Splinter Cell 3D also uses motion controls. When Sam approaches doors, he has the option to use an optic cable to peak under the door and check out what's going on on the other side. Players have to tilt the 3DS to the left or right to scope out the room and see what's going on. This is the only example of motion controls used in the game. The shoulder buttons are reserved for melee attacks and killing enemies. Which brings me to another major issue that also involves the touch-screen...

To open doors, grab characters from behind, and interact with basically anything in the game, you need to click a checkmark on the touch-screen in the bottom right corner. This means that not only do you have to worry about the camera, controlling Sam, you also need to use the stylus a lot. This means pausing and shifting your hands around just to open a door or something. I wish there was an option to just make the A button interact with things. But then that would make the camera obsolete. You see the problem? There's not enough buttons on the 3DS, Ubisoft! They should've made a unique Splinter Cell game made especially for the 3DS. Trying to shoehorn a game originally created for systems with two analog sticks, four shoulder buttons, and four face buttons is a horrible idea. The result is a game that is horribly difficult to control, making the game virtually impossible to enjoy. Getting through this game from beginning to end is a baffling chore and is sure to cause headaches to anyone that attempts such a feat.

I don't understand why Ubisoft didn't reserve the touch-screen for the lockpicking mini-games that the series is known for. It's a perfect fit for the unique features of the 3DS, so they really dropped the ball here. Instead, lockpicking is handled using the circle pad. It works fine, but it's rather pointless. In the other versions of Chaos Theory, lockpicking is the alternative to bashing through locks. Breaking a lock in the other versions of Chaos Theory almost always spelled certain death because the noise would attract enemies. Most of the time in Splinter Cell 3D, the AI is too stupid to hear the noise, or won't bother investigating even if they do hear it.

The other mini-game that impedes players' progress is the hacking mini-game. In this game, there is a cube shown on the bottom screen. It is taken apart, and on the top screen, players have to choose which piece of the cube is the correct one to put it back together. These hacking segments are just plain annoying and repetitive. They're straight-up boring. The only purpose of them as far as I can tell is to show off the 3D, as the 3D effect really looks great while cycling through the different choices.

Splinter Cell 3D suffers from other issues as well. The map, while occasionally helpful, is a pain in the ass to navigate. The game also tends to crash every now and again for no particular reason. While the generous amount of save points makes this less stressful, the fact that the game crashes so much is inexcusable, especially since it's a game on a cartridge. I have also experienced these crashing issues with Ubisoft's other games on the 3DS, Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars and Rayman 3D. I hope this problem doesn't continue with future releases from the company.

One of the main advantages of cartridges over other forms of media storage like CDs or discs is the lack of loading times. While it's true that there are still quite a few cartridge-based games out there that have loading times, the loads are usually extremely short. That's not the case with Splinter Cell 3D. The game takes a huge amount of time to load, and it's a little ridiculous. Each mission is broken up into a few different levels, and it astonishes me that these little sections take so long to boot up. It's not even like Splinter Cell 3D is that visually intense. The game actually looks pretty damn bad, especially compared to its brethren. There are jagged edges all around, a general lack of detail in the environments, and ugly textures. The character models look decent, but they could have been done on the regular DS. In fact, this entire game basically could have been pulled off on the first DS...oh wait, it was. With features still intact that were cut from this version.

The 3D in Splinter Cell 3D is unremarkable. This is one of the few games where I feel like if I play it with the 3D turned off completely, I am not missing out on anything. There are ghosting issues occasionally with the 3D, but the 3D is barely noticeable to the point where ghosting doesn't even have many opportunities to occur. The 3D doesn't add anything to the game, but it is occasionally cool-looking. However, this visual flair hardly saves Splinter Cell 3D any face value.

The 3DS is capable of a lot more than past Nintendo handhelds were, and this is actually apparent in Splinter Cell 3D, surprisingly enough. I'm talking about the sound design. Cartridges have always had issues with fitting in all the sound for games, but Splinter Cell 3D sports all of the dialogue and voice-acting present in the originals. The sound effects remain, as does the intense action film music. While it's certainly not the greatest sound design in the world, Splinter Cell 3D proves that the audio experience on the 3DS is going to be vastly improved from its legendary seventh generation predecessor.

Splinter Cell 3D can be completed in under ten hours easily, and after that, there really isn't much left to do. There are other difficulty modes to try out, but there's really no point in pursuing this. There's no reward to it, and the controls just make it a stressful endeavor. With the multiplayer taken out and the co-op axed, there's really no reason to play this version of Chaos Theory, especially when an HD version is on the way, and to be bundled with the original game as well as Pandora Tomorrow for a cheaper price. Splinter Cell 3D won't appeal to fans of the series, and it's certainly not a must-buy game for your 3DS collection.

Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Product Release: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D (US, 04/10/11)

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