Review by pubbisk

"MGS Killer?...I Don't Think So"

Well folks, here it is. We watched as X Box owners bragged about it. We watched X Box Magazine give it an insanely high score, (though that's not a surprise. All of their reviews are something like this-WOW! IT'S ON X BOX! WOW! KILLER GRAPHICS! AWESOME! 9.99999!!!) now we finally get to play it. Is it all we expected and more? Read the following review to find out.

Concept: 5/10 SC brings few new ideas to the table. Almost all of the gameplay elements featured have been in a previous title at some point. Split jumps and a few other gimmicks add a bit of originality, though.

Graphics: 10/10 Incredible. I summed it all up right there. After playing both versions, I can say that the visuals hold up pretty well, and even exceed X Box in some areas. The texturing and character models have been lowered in quality somewhat. The main developer's gripe with Sony's hardware was the glaring lack of texture memory, and it shows here. (Though they're still impressive, don't get me wrong.) Some of the ambient lighting and shadows have also been toned down. On the bright side, Ubi Soft has rewarded us PS2 faithful with some new and enhanced effects. Heat distortion and reflective surfaces have been added here, and it really improves the sense of reality. I was surprised that there were no reflections on the X Box version, and I'm glad that they've finally been added. Without a doubt, SC's graphics are among the most dazzling ever conceived.

Sound: 7/10 I was a bit disappointed here. I got really excited when I saw that the Prague Orchestra made some of the soundtrack, but they were only responsible for the menu theme. The music during the actual game is nothing special, but it fits in pretty well despite being low key and repetitive. You can hear the footsteps of your enemies, but I find it difficult to judge the distance at times. I'm not sure if this is a flaw or an error in my judgment. The gunfire is nothing special. I was somewhat impressed by the various sounds made when colliding with materials such as fabrics, metals, and plastics. Overall, the sound gets the job done but don't look for anything that'll blow your mind.

Playability: 6/10 Some may say I was too harsh here, others may say I'm too lenient. This is where almost all of this games flaws turn up. They don't make the game unplayable by any stretch of the imagination, but they are a hindrance. Even worse, these mistakes tend to rear their ugly heads during a critical moment in the game, making you have to retry a level over and over again. First and foremost, the targeting is off kilter. Headshots seem to be a matter of luck even at short distances, and trying to hit a lightbulb (to cover yourself) is sheer hell. Perhaps this is really the collision, which seems to be amiss. Bodies can go straight through walls when you stash them, and you can't put a body on a table. (It'll just go right through it.)I know this game is about stealth, but wouldn't it be nice to break the ice once in a while with some action? Tough luck. You stay undercover for the entire game, and with the extremely lax targeting going into battle is a nightmare. This game does everything in its power to keep you in the shadows. Double jumping against walls can also be an anomaly. It's a shame this release has so many stupid mistakes bogging it down, as it could be awesome. (On a positive note, I'll comment on the good camera and decent controls.)

Entertainment: 8/10 Somehow, even with all its flaws, SC still manages to be a blast. I love the story, environments, and missions. The plotline proved to be very engaging and I found myself playing just to see what happens next. I also liked that some of the repetitive, monotonous segments in the X Box version were removed and replaced with more interesting material. It really did help the progression of the game. MGS freaks who don't feel like waiting until 2015 for the next installment of the series should pick this one up. I guarantee it's worth your time.

Replay Value: 6/10 There's little reason to play this game more than once or twice. You may want to go through a few times to improve your stealth skills or try the ''hard'' difficulty setting, but once you're done, you're done. There is little in the way of extra modes/other goodies to keep your interest after completion of the main quest.

Closing Comments: And so ends the tale of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. What a disappointment. This game could have been a masterpiece, reaching the highest echelons of gaming. Instead, stupid mistakes by an incompetent French developer brought it tumbling down into the legions of games to be remembered as ''good, but not great''. Does this mean that SC isn't worth your valuable time? I should think not. I plopped down the $50 for it and I have no regrets. For those of you who like stealth, buy this one. If you've been sitting on the sidelines, start with MGS2. (Which still reigns supreme, despite Clancy's best efforts. Good luck next time, Tom!)

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 04/17/03, Updated 04/17/03

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