Review by ralphord

"Give it a chance! It starts to become addictive..."

Okay, so it starts a little slow and the firing control is frustrating as hell. But trust me, it gets alot better. As you progress in the game, you find out this isn't a Medal of Honor or a Metal Gear (where slick firing controls are essential), it's a game of stealth. Here's the breakdown:

Graphics: (8.75/10)
Excellent. The background scenery is great and the characters are very life-like and crisp. SC's use of light and shadow is mind-blowing, and it works out perfectly that this aspect is the major theme of the game. As for ''heavenly'' eye-candy, one of the overhead views from the latter part of the game is phoenominal. There are slight glitches with the speech synchorinization, and few camera ''eye-crossers'' (akin to the Bounty Hunter headaches), but the slight visual problems are by no means a major eyesore or distraction. The character's faces are everybit as good as MGS, with all the details including the blink. I think the scenery is almost up there with Medal of Honor: Frontline (and if you play the game through, you'll come upon some eerie scenery and sounds that closely resemble MOH) and Metal Gear, if that gives an overall indication of the quality of the graphics.

Story: (8/10)
It's not completely overwhelming, but Splinter Cell's story is compelling, and keeps you involved and interested in the progression of the game. Let's just say it's not just an ''edge of the seat'' story like (I'm serious!!!) The Thing, but it more than does the job. Obviously, since the game can be closely related to Metal Gear, my favorite difference between the two is Splinter Cell's straight to the point cut-scenes, which don't happen to be several hours in length. This isn't a Zelda or Final Fantasy game that absolutely requires a stellar story to survive, so I say the story serves its purpose. The News Flashes were a rather creative way to relay the events of the game, and like I said before, nothing about the story was too overdone.

Sound: (7/10)

Granted, the sound is a little below par with the genre, but only because the ''alert'' music is so annoying. If you ask me, the game could get by without any playing music at all, and just rely on the background noises and the chatting of the guards. Now there are some instances in the game where the ''alerted guard'' fast pace symphony are nessecary, but unfotunately the game starts the beat anytime you are spotted. I personally think hearing the initial ''you're spotted sound'' and footsteps are much more effective. And some of the background sounds are really nice, such as the bottle being thrown or dropped. Anyways, this game is about hiding and sneaking; there's not much music that would fit.

Gameplay and Controls: (9/10)

The only reason I'm not scoring ten is for the occassional akwardness of the firing camera. It is really a bother in the beginning until you finally get the hang of it. If the game was a fast-paced shooter, you wouldn't have a prayer. But once I got used to the controls and the camera, I was sneaking around and hiding bodies with the best of them. Like I said earlier, its not really a game that requires lightning quick responses with the gun, so the controls won't be a hinderance. You'll have so much fun sneaking and firing diversion cameras that your gripes about the weapons will soon be silenced. When you're right on someone, and you're fixing to grab them, you'll understand what I mean about the gameplay. SC has it all: From 3 different vision modes (night-vision, standard, and thermo-goggles) that all have to be used in the game, to sticky shockers and wall mines that can blow your enemies (or yourself) to bits. Definitely the strong point of the game.

Difficulty: (6.5/10)

Regardless of what I've read from other contributors, I think the game is too easy on normal. There are too many checkpoints. I say eliminate these checkpoints and keep the save points. This way you would be forced to be a little more careful with your level procession. It's one of those games that gets easier as you make you're way through. By far I thought the hardest level was the CIA headquarter mission in the first third of the game, and conversely, I found the last two levels to be the easiest (although they were very time consuming). It's not a game you will be stuck anywhere too long, as there are no intricate stratedgies to blow your mind. Basically, it will take some time, but a FAQ or strategy guide is by no means nessecary.

Overall: (8/10)

Awesome game. If the game had been released a year and a half ago, it would be an epic. Unfortunately, it failed to greatly improve on existing classic first person shooters. I hear the X-Box version is a little crisper and refined, but the PS2 version does boast a unique level. Still, a definite must play for fans of the MGS and MOHF stealth/shooter types of games. If you like those, trust me, you won't be dissapointed with Splinter Cell. None of these type games are much on the replay value, and this game follows suit. You would be pushed to complete it in a single rent, so it's probably better as a buy. Of Couse, you could just rent it two or three times and save a few bucks.

Ultimately, I am looking forward to the second installment of this game, and would highly reccomend it to anyone who gets caught up in the ''old Rambo one man army'' games.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/04/03, Updated 06/04/03

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