Review by igor140

"... Why did this game get such high reviews?"

It all started a few days ago when my roommate and I were looking for a new multiplayer war- type shooter. I had heard that this game had a co-op feature, so we rented it.

For starters, this is my first Splinter Cell game, so I will admit I may have missed the point. But I played the demo for the original SC and thought it was spectacular (I just didn't have the money at the time to buy it). I have also been a longstanding fan of both the Thief and Hitman series in their entireties, from their inceptions, so I am by no means a stranger to the "stealth" shooter games.

Well, we pop this thing in, each pick up a controller and come to find... not enough space on memory card. So I go in, delete a few extra RE4 and FFX files, start a profile for me; my roommate tries to save his profile... not enough space. Already somewhat frustrated at this point, I went back into the memory card: 1200 KB OF REQUIRED SPACE!! For those who may not immediately know what that means, your entire memory card has 8000 kb (roughly). So yes, ONE profile of this game takes up 15% of your total memory card! To put this in further context, a save slot for FFX (which is a large, fairly complicated game with a LOT of character data) takes up 63 kb (less than 1%). No, you're not reading that wrong, the Oregon Trail takes up less space than one save profile of this game.

So having moved and deleted enough stuff for the two of us to be able to play the game, we crank it up. Forty- five minutes later, we make it out of the first room. I go to throw Joseph over a ledge... and he falls in a pit and dies. We reload... in the first room. After another 45 minutes, we discovered that, contrary to the philology of the two phrases, "stand in front of" and "position yourself in front of" are NOT synonymous.

After that things began to go a little smoother. We interrogated some badguys, shot some badguys, blew some stuff up, and were truly able to enjoy the game. Nevermind the fact that between the two of us we suck at it, and set off alarms like Christmas lights, we quickly discovered that save points are very few and far between (only 1 or 2 per level I have seen). And despite being called "checkpoints" they are more of "beginnings of levels"; DO NOT EVER RESTART AT CHECKPOINT!!

"Well, Uncle Igor, why did you have to restart so much?"
"I'm glad you asked Billy"

It turns out that for being two of the most badass dudes to ever join the United States military, your character couldn't shoot a hogtied clown suspended from a tree from six feet away. Maybe four. And I'm not talking about the reticule- moving- thingy (I got VERY good at both Rainbow Six and Rogue Spear). Perfectly stationary, perfectly hidden, perfectly aimed at the chest, and missed from about 20 feet. On the same note, you will find that your rifle is next to useless. Your first shot is as accurate as any (which doesn't say much), but unless your attempting to hit the Rock of Gibraltar from the aforementioned 4 feet, don't bother. The pistol is much more accurate. The pistol cannot hit a 200 lbs man from 20 feet. Good luck.

And I know you're not supposed to actually kill people in the co-op game, but there are a couple problems with that. First of all, there are times that you HAVE to kill people. One point in particular, there is a doorway you must get through. the area immediately in front of the doorway is lit up like the Griswalds, and there are two guys in the next room, one of whom is looking RIGHT at the doorway, and the other of whom you don't see until you enter the room and he puts six bullets in your right ear. Second of all, why not kill people? They are BAD. You aren't a hitman, you're a special agent. Who cares how many bodies are left behind, so long as the mission is accomplished?

So now some logistical stuff. First, how is it that while perfectly hidden in the shadows, I can make a noise, and the guards IMMEDIATELY know exactly where I am? Not a good guess, not come over and check it out, but fire off three rounds into the dark, and I'm dead. Second, what exactly is "heal teammate"? I understand the game would LITERALLY be impossible without it, but seriously, I get shot in the face, and Joseph comes over and "heals" me. If I could shoot half as well as I can perform miracles, I wouldn't have to reload so damn much. Third, STEAM!! Who the **** has STEAM flowing freely in their factory?! It's a corridor, with doors at either end and walkways and whatnot. Why is there steam? Moreover, WHY DOES IT KILL ME?! This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. I have been burned by steam. It really does hurt. But not when you are wearing a specially designed military infiltration suit. You have a gadget that disables electronic devices from 30 feet away, but cooking rice would take you out faster than a bullet to the chest (literally).

So after about six hours (actually seven, we took a dinner break), we finally beat the tutorial mission. Not because we suck THAT much, but because the game gives you almost NO instructions whatsoever, and the instructions they do give you don't make sense. So when you screw up (which is natural in any game), you have to reload a ways back... a VERY long ways back. Bear in mind that what may only take 10 minutes of playing time may well involve solving puzzles in 8 different rooms, each of which must be done in a specific way, involving some combination of taking hostages, sneaking, shooting, rappelling, hacking computers, finding items, scaling walls, or simply waiting. So what would be 10 minutes if you did all of that RIGHT the first time, turns out to be well over an hour of repetitive screw ups.

So Joseph went to right a paper, and I tried out the single player game. The aiming is significantly better. Sneaking is possible, as are stealth kills. The levels are much better designed, and a lot more fun. Honestly, I didn't get very far in this because it still has a lot of the same flaws as the co-op, and I had been playing for way too long. While I realize this detracts some from my credibility, my review of the game mechanics stands perfectly intact. As such, the plot seems somewhat interesting, if ridiculously hokey. Your boss tells you to abandon the mission, you tell him to screw himself, but the mission is over anyway... does that sound like a secret agent to you? Then comes an illogical montage of the next 3 years (i guess... it doesn't really ever say) that gives Wing Zero a run for its money. Then you're in prison (that's not a spoiler... if you couldn't figure that out from the box cover, don't bother trying to follow the plot).

The original Tom Clancy games were designed with a high degree of realism in mind. Certainly there were some developer licenses taken, but at least realistic weapons, settings, scenarios, plots, and characters. This has... none of that. Perhaps the weapons are realistic, I am not a military contractor, I don't know. If we have guns that can shoot around corners, why not binoculars that can hack computers through bullet- proof glass? But as for the rest, I am honestly surprised that Tom Clancy put his name on this one.

So here we go: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Graphics: pretty darn good. Draw distance leaves a little to be desired, and there are better looking and more intensive (system- wise) games out there, but they're not bad.

Sound: SPECTACULAR. This is the one aspect of this game that I am impressed with. Sound has long been an overlooked aspect of the majority of games, and I normally don't even bother with it in my assessment of games. But in stealth games, it is important, and in this game, it is good.

Plot: Again, I realize I haven't gotten very far, but it seems interesting, if entirely un- Clancy.

Controls: AWFUL. the controls are entirely unintuitive (to me, anyway), and worse still, when you push the wrong button, it is REALLY wrong; not just "oh I just squatted instead of jumping" wrong, we're talking "oh, I equipped my gun instead of taking the badguy hostage, I'm now dead" wrong.

Level design: if I ever create a game this linear (which is unlikely... I'm studying psychology), I will just paint a big yellow line on the ground. And if there is any ambiguity, I will just post a big Daffy Duck style sign saying "50 FT TO FREE RABBIT! -->"

Playing this game honestly makes me wish I could figure out how to get Rogue Spear to work on my computer.

If you are a longstanding fan of the series, rent it, and may God have mercy on your soul (and hope your rental fees are $7... youch). If you are as new to this series as I am, pick up Hitman: Blood Money; it is a far superior game in every way.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 10/30/06

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