Review by DarthMarth

Reviewed: 08/31/03

A refreshing variation from classic shooters.

When I first read about Splinter Cell in Nintendo Power, I thought it would be fun, since it emphasizes stealth, unlike other shooters (like GoldenEye). I was right. I first tried it on my friend's XBox, and even then it was a blast. I soon rented it for Gamecube, and played through the whole thing.

Gameplay: 8/10

Fans of shoot-'em-ups like GoldenEye or Quake might be disappointed with Splinter Cell. (not that I was) Unlike GoldenEye, which puts importance in firepower and weapons, Splinter Cell more focuses on gadgets and stealth. The game has only two guns (a light pistol and an all-purpose rifle), but this serves to make you feel more like a covert agent. The two weapons are nicely balanced. The SC pistol is semiautomatic, but is still deadly if you hit someone's head. It can also be fired one-handed, allowing you to use it while peeking around corners, hanging from pipes, or while rappelling down walls. The SC-20K rifle is less versatile, but has full automatic and sniper modes and can fire various gadgets. These include cameras (either with zoom feature or sleeping gas), Sticky Shockers and Ring Airfoils (which incapacitate rather than kill), or Sticky Bombs, which can be controlled with the GBA. (more on that below) Unlike in other games, Sam Fisher (the main character) only pulls his weapon when you select it. With a weapon out, Sam moves extra slowly, but has pinpoint aim. There are also other gadgets that are used independently, like the Laser Mic (which lets you listen in on ''private'' conversations), Lock Pick (which lets you pick locks, duh), or the ever-useful Optical Cable, which can let you see the other side of doors. Sam's last two gadgets are in his goggles. Night vision mode lets Sam see in his natural environment, the dark, and Thermal Vision lets him see enemies clearly even through mist. Even if he isn't using gadgets, Sam can still sneak up on enemies from behind and grab them. From there, he can knock them out, interrogate them, or if they're a colonel force them to use a retinal scanner to open doors. The reason I gave this section an 8 is because some parts of the game are downright frustrating. Trying to sneak through a level unarmed, without setting any alarms, can be extremely annoying. Sometimes an alarm also sounds for no apparent reason, which can sometimes cost you the mission. And because the game's shooting system focuses more on silently killing enemies that can't see you, firefights can become unnecessarily deadly.

Story: 10/10

Like all of Tom Clancy's stories, Splinter Cell's is very realistic. (for all we know, it could be happening right now) Sam Fisher is the figurehead of a splinter cell, a small group of people who work together with a field operative to collect data and carry out missions. Sam's cooperators are Colonel Lambert, your critical mission supervisor, Vernon Wilkes, your field runner, and Anna Grimsdottir, who provides you with computer information. Early in the game, a terrorist threat led by Kombayn Nicoladze surfaces in Georgia. Sam is sent in to investigate, turning up new evidence and alliances throughout Asia...

Graphics: 10/10

Splinter Cell's graphics are realistic and gritty. Small details like moths swarming around street lights, scattered papers everywhere, and even Coke cans lying around add to the game's realism. The graphics are so good, they even look similar to the lifelike cutscenes.

Sound: 9/10

The sound is also realistic. You can hear people footsteps over different surfaces, crackling fires, and pistol shots. Because of the game's stealthy theme, however, there is not much sound to be heard. (unless you're getting shot)

Replay: 4/10

Although Splinter Cell can be fun the first time through, it can get boring after that. It can be beaten in a few days, and it might be while until you want to play it again.

Buy/Rent: Probably rent

Although Splinter Cell is a great game, its short duration and lack of replay make it well suited to renting.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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