Review by Arnhem Knight

"This game is beautiful, but looks can only take this broken game so far."

When the first Splinter Cell came out in May of 2003, I was in love with it. It was an amazing game with great graphics and an awesome Tom Clancy storyline. The stealth aspect was fresh and original, and I knew that there would be another game in the series. I was right. When I heard about Pandora Tomorrow, I was beyond excited. More great stealth gameplay had me hooked from the start, but that only lasted until I played the game. It was then I found out that Pandora Tomorrow was not as good as I had hoped.

As with the first Splinter Cell, Pandora Tomorrow brings with it the Tom Clancy name, and with that name comes an awesome story. The game starts with a rescue operation in which you are sent in to rescue an important intelligence figure. From here things only get worse for Sam Fisher as he attempts to track down chemical weapons before a terrorist unleashes the chemicals. All in all, the story is great, and it is presented in an entertaining manner with a few unexpected twists.

Now for the gameplay. This is where the game starts taking hits. In the first Splinter Cell the guards were a bit over perceptive, but that was alright. It meant that the player actually had to use stealth to remain hidden. In Pandora Tomorrow, the guys are as smart as most chipmunks. Even then chipmunks are more alert then these guys. The enemies in this game will rarely, if ever, hear you sneak up on them. This might sound good, but it isn't. And what is up with all of the urination in this game? There is always a guard whipping out his other pistol and shooting at a nearby tree or hole. This was funny at first, but it gets old. Also, why are so many guards drunk in this game? Well, I wish I knew, that way I could let all of you readers know. What this section boils down to is this; the A.I. in this game is awful. Period.

Special moves were a key part of Splinter Cell, and all of the original moves return, and more. Sam can now do a SWAT turn to get by open doors undetected. When Sam is crawling on a pipe, he can hang upside down and shoot a guard. These two moves are minor additions that will only be used a few times, but they are cool nonetheless. Like the first stealth is a key part of this game. It is toned down quite a bit due to the lack of smart enemies in this game, but you will find that rushing into a room and shooting everyone will result in a quick death. The infamous alarms also make a second appearance, only this time guards will become more alert when alarms are set off. Don't worry, though, as the guards still won't be a threat.

As the title of this review states, this game looks great. It is a step up from the original. Lighting is much better as are the character models. Sam is more detailed and he moves with more fluid animations. The secondary characters even move with more realistic animation. Added with more open outdoor environments, this game is an improvement over the first in every way. Textures are more detailed and the frame rate does not drop as much as it did in the first game. So what are the problems? This game is filled with screen tearing and mission ending glitches that seem to occur at the end of the missions. I found myself restarting the longest mission in the game numerous times before the game deemed it necessary for me to move on. For such a beautiful game, there sure are a lot of glitches. Screen tearing isn't a big deal, but it shows a lack of polish, which is unacceptable.

At least the audio is better than the presentation. The game features a similar soundtrack, meaning that the tunes are fairly quiet unless you are in the middle of an action sequence. Michael Ironside once again voices the dark Sam Fisher, and he does great. Secondary characters still sound funny, though, with their forced voices. This however, does not take away from the overall audio experience. As for everything else, the same applies. Guns, explosions, footsteps, and even the environments sound great. The fantastic sounds really add to the game.

One of the major blows to the Gamecube version is the lack of multiplayer, but I don't care, and the same should go for any Gamecube fan as we always get shafted. The multiplayer does not affect my score in any way.

Well, that is my review of Pandora Tomorrow. If not for stupid enemies who would be more fit in a game about comas, and if not for the serious glitches, this game could have been perfect. In the end, though, the game does not live up to the original, and this is only worth a purchase for die-hard Splinter Cell fans. For everyone else, ignore this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 07/19/05

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