Review by Arnhem Knight

"Another Gamecube Splinter Cell, another disappointment. It is still good, though."

Splinter Cell, the awesome stealth game that snuck onto the Gamecube in May of 2002. It grabbed gamers by the neck and thrust them into an amazing, stealthy campaign. A little over two years later Splinter Cell: Pandora tomorrow infiltrated the Gamecube, and while it was essentially the same great game, it was still a bit disappointing. Now, less than a year since Pandora Tomorrow, Gamecube is attacked by Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. This game improves upon the other two in minor ways, but it is not enough to bring it back from the disappointment side.

I will begin with the story, as the one featured in this game is actually really good. The game begins by putting you in the shoes of Sam Fisher, and as with the other two, the main problem of the story is not yet known. Veterans will be familiar with how the story plays out. Basically you will follow leads until you reach the main problem, and then you will have to prevent the main problem at all costs. At its core, the story is only a little different from the previous games, but it still beats the stories of most games. As expected with the Tom Clancy license is a satisfying storyline.

Now onto the heart and soul of the game, which happens to be gameplay. Not much has changed here. You are still the stealthy Sam Fisher, and do not take it lightly when I say stealthy. This game IS stealth. If you think that you can run in and empty a room like John Rambo, be prepared to pick your ass up off the floor and start at the nearest checkpoint. This game NEEDS to be taken slowly. Now to help with this, you are given the usual arsenal. You have your SC-2K rifle, your trusty pistol, and all of the cool and high tech gadgets from the other installments such as the airfoil, sticky shockers, and sticky cameras. There are a few new things. To compliment the noticeably darker tone of the game you will receive a knife that can kill people. Instead of the elbow attack like the other two games, you get a knife. It wouldn't be Splinter Cell without the non-lethal strikes, and you will have the option of using a non-lethal strike. The knife isn't just for killing. You can use it to slit open a tent and silently sneak up on a guard. Also, the SC-2K rifle can be turned into a sort of shotgun, and the pistol comes equipped with a gadget that silently eliminates lights. These are just a few of the new gadgets in the game. Some of the gadgets are not even needed. Remember the lock pick? You don't need it. Now you can just bust the lock with you trusty knife. What about those retinal scanners and keypads? Instead of finding guards to help you out you can just hack the keypad and scanner. Be careful, though, as in real life failing to hack has consequences. The ever-famous headgear also returns. This time around there is a vision type that allows the player to see electric things like light and computers. You will also have a trusty gadget known as the EEV. This allows you to scan things from afar, and you can even hack the aforementioned keypads and retinal scanners. As well as the gadgets come the usual moves. This time around a few are missing such as the SWAT maneuver that allows you to quickly get past doors. Really though, the loss of a few of these moves doesn't hurt the game. Sam can still sidle walls, hang from ledges, and crawl through small spaces. Anyway, the gameplay is essentially the same. It should be noted that the game is also a great deal less linear. There will be a number of times that you can choose the path. Also, you do not have to complete all of the objectives. Lets say you fail to kill an important character in one mission. He will return later on and you will have to kill that character at this time. As always, the game controls like a dream, aside from the awkward control scheme. Oh well. It doesn't take to long to adapt.

Well, now I am going to cover the graphics for you graphics lovers. This game is good, but not great. After seeing the beautiful Resident Evil 4, we all know what the Gamecube is capable of, and Chaos Theory doesn't even come close. Sam looks better than in the previous games, and so do the enemies. Overall this game looks better than the other two. So what are the problems? Well, in this game there are a number of small glitches that ruin the stealth elements. It could be my copy, but in the second mission I was able to see enemy shadows through walls. Weird, huh? This really took a way from the stealth aspect of the game. Also, some parts of the game cut out. It is hard to explain but you will know when it happens. Another complaint is that the mouths of Sam Fisher and his enemies don't move unless it is a cut scene. It is pretty funny watching Sam interrogate someone without a jaw muscle ever being moved. There are some good things to this game. The backgrounds look great, and the particle effects such as water and blood look great. The lighting is amazing. Everything is realistically lit and this helps to add to the realism. The surfaces also have a wet look to them. It is hard to explain, but you will definitely know what I am talking about when you see it. One last thing; rag doll physics! This game features the ever-popular rag doll physics engine. This means that enemies will move realistically when they are dead. For example, if you decide to stand an enemy against the wall he will slide down and realistically lay on the ground. This is an awesome feature and it makes the game that much more realistic. To sum it up, this game looks good, but it could have been a lot better. It is a shame that Ubisoft failed to take the extra time to utilize the Gamecube hardware because this game could have looked amazing.

Audio. This game features some superb audio. The soundtrack, while only containing a few tunes, really helps to add a sort of tension to the game. When you are seen the music speeds up to match the added tension, and when things slow down, the music also slows. Voice acting for main characters is really good, especially that of Sam Fisher. Secondary characters are lacking however. The people you interrogate are really bad, and their lines sound forced. I also noticed that the enemies, although being North Korean, have astounding English. None of the men seem to have kept their Korean accents when they picked up English. This is a small complaint, but they could have used subtitles for the characters to add some authenticity. Everything else sounds great. All of the weapons are realistic, and the game features a number of extra sounds such as background fire and the waves of the Pacific hitting the side of a boat. This game now features a sound meter, which allows you to monitor how loud you are being. What is even cooler is that sometimes the sounds of the environment will cover up your noise. This is a pretty cool feature that adds to the stealth element of the game. Audio does not disappoint, except for some of the acting.

A new feature to this game is a co-op mode. Yes, this game features a co-op mode. I haven't had the chance to play it to its full extent, but what I have done is pretty good. Everything controls the same, and the two spies have the same moves as Fisher. Since there are two of you, you will have to cooperate through the missions. For example, you may have to help your partner over a ledge so he can unlock a door for you. This is a nice diversion from the main game, but don't expect it to last long, as it is only 4 missions long. Oh well. At least it has some form of multiplayer.

Well, there is my review. If you liked the previous installments, then you will probably like this darker and overall disappointing game. If it wasn't for the lackluster presentation and short co-op campaign, this game could have been a masterpiece, but alas I am just rambling about what could have been. Where is the sense in that? My final recommendation is simple. If you have the first two, and you liked the first two, then pick this game up. If you are new to the franchise, go with the first one, and then you can move onto this one. Just don't expect it to be as good as the first because it is not.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 04/04/05

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