Review by Link_in_Green

"A Review From a Guy Who Hasn't Played a Console Splinter Cell"

First, let's get something straight: I haven't played any of the three console Splinter Cells (Even though I've heard a great deal about them). I noticed that people on the message boards or people who review this game tend to rant about how this game is not as graphically beautiful as the console version, not as much fun as the console version, blah blah blah…

They seem to be forgetting that this is the first portable Splinter Cell in full 3D. What I hope to do is give a review that doesn't put the console Chaos Theory side-by-side with the portable noting how inferior it is. It is a good portable recreation of Splinter Cell. I want it rated as a game by itself. Err… here goes:

Story (6/10):
I didn't really care much about the story, something about a ship with superior defensive capabilities made in corroboration between the U.S. and Japan. This ship blows up and Sam Fisher is dispatched to find the perpetrator or risk a world war… yeah, I think that about sums it up. Oh, by the way, the story is given in text form from Sam's superiors during missions. And a briefing is given before the start of each mission.

Gameplay (8/10):
The controls need some getting used to. You use the D-pad to move Sam in a 3D environment, which causes movement to be a bit imprecise. Changing the camera's position is done by touching arrows on the touch screen. The touch screen is also used to aim, change weapons and gadgets, change goggles (Night vision / Thermal), and to access your objectives, files, e-mail, and options. To aim a weapon/bomb/can/whatever you click the right trigger to move into a first-person perspective and use the stylus to aim then use the left trigger to shoot. Clicking the right trigger again returns you to the third-person perspective.

This is a stealth game, it's a love it/hate it thing. Each stage you're given primary and optional objectives, which you are to complete without being detected more than three times. There is a visibility meter on the screen which allows you to see how visible you are, so there is a lot of creeping around in shadows and avoiding cameras in this game. I tend to categorize the stages into two: 1- Stages where you're allowed to kill people, and 2- Stages where you aren't. In stages of the first category, you can shoot people, slice their throats open, and blow them up as you like, but stages of the second category (which I believe are the majority) you should take it easy and whenever a guard bugs you, creep behind him, grab him and, ah, put him to sleep to put it nicely.

The touch screen is also used in mini-game-like interactions, like lock-picking and inserting numbers on keypads.

Things that have annoyed me: The game gives you a lot of ammo and gadgets, you never really run short or feel that you must conserve. Also, you are taught in the training level of the game some cool-looking moves but you never find a chance to use them. Finally, when you're in a situation where it's shoot or die, it takes way too much to pull out your gun, aim with the stylus, and shoot.

The graphics are mainly good for a portable. Sam looks good, levels are varied, and they've even included a couple of FMVs from the console version (though in much less quality obviously). Still there are some problems: The game has a gloomy and dark look. The guards are indistinguishable from one another (same faces), and there are minor graphic glitches. Also, for some reasons, grenades explode invisibly (no flame). I forgot to mention that the night vision and thermal goggles have some serious framerate issues (the thermal more so than the night). Thankfully, you don't really HAVE to use the night goggles in the game, whereas you MUST use the thermal ones, though the instances in which you have to use them are brief and far in between.

The music wasn't enjoyable but wasn't annoying either, though I liked that the music gets err… faster and scary when you're detected. The sound effects are fine, and the few lines the guards give are good but get boring after a while. I'm sick of hearing: ‘I'm getting paranoid,' or: ‘Who's there?' over and over again.

The game has a healthy amount of missions, which you can replay to get the bonus costume hidden in each. Admittedly, the costumes aren't much (I heard that some of them make you less detectable, but I haven't tested that) but they're an incentive to revisit a completed stage.

There is multiplayer, but I haven't tried that, so I can't say much about it.

I really like this game, it made buy the first Splinter Cell for GC (which will soon be followed by Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory). If you like stealth games get it, if you don't rent it to see if you like it.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 07/24/05

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