Review by Eddo89

"Forget double agent, double game length please"

Oh yet another Tom Clancy game. No prize for who can guess what is this going to be about. If "Safe the world from terrorist trying to fire nuclear bombs" is your guess, then you are right. Is the same old thing. Veterans of Pandora Tomorrow or Chaos Theory will have no trouble getting into the frame of mind to this. I like the approach of this game better than Chaos Theory in that it is not very gadgety and more old-fashion approach.

The Splinter Cell series is a stealth game based on shadows. Key of the game is to get through the level evading guards by hiding in the dark, knocking them out or make some darkness if there is none nearby. It does sound a bit 'lame' in description but in practice, it is quite a thrilling game.

Graphically speaking, it is all 'black'? How am I supposed to rate anything when all you have is three green lights on your head? On a serious note, it gets the job done. It is quite grainy, making it difficult to distinguish between surfaces, which could lead to a couple of nasty visits from guards. There are also some slightly visible lines that spread across the screen going vertical, which to my knowledge has no advantages for the gamer. One alteration that they made which is a huge improvement was making normal view much more useful. In the past, having thermal or night vision permanently on is better than doing without it. As before, less reliance on gadgets. If you have previous experiences of Splinter Cell, this game more or less will be the same. Expect some realistic environment but will not be jaw dropping. Or maybe is so dark that you could not see that is magnificent. One or the other...

Sound...perhaps Ubisoft is part of environmental activists. They did not use any electricity or paper (safe the trees) in designing the music of this game because they recycled everything from sound effect to music. Perhaps one or two new themes but generally, is the same. Is not as though the old sound is broken, so they figured no fixing required. They are right, this game still sounds great so no complaints.

The story is about Sam Fisher, part of the Third Echelon operative unit called the Splinter Cell all of which is under the NSA as he and his superior Irvine Lambert, try to find a dangerous substance called Red Mercury from being used by an organization called the JBA. For a change, we are not trying to find evidence from the outside. This time we have to work for terrorists to earn trust and hopefully discover the location of Red Mercury. Not all is going to plan however, with Assistant Director of the NSA trying to find excuses to pull the plug on everything; this will be a delicate job of balancing. For this, the game has a trust system designed.

This game has some very nice cut-scenes, which made me think for a moment, 'this is not acting is it?' It is not and it does look very impressive. However, what is cut-scene without substance? They do not tell important events in the story, they are mere 'cool' scenes.

Getting back to the storyline. There is one word for the overall story, a word I despise to use but cannot find a better-suited word. Lame. There is a pattern to everything that goes 'wrong' during the story and that is no explanation. Giving an example in the first mission, why they hell did you suddenly has to go out. Why do you need to blow the place up so abruptly and exit abruptly? There was no logical reasoning behind it. Same could be said of the ending. It ended so quickly and weirdly that by the time you can get your mind around it the credits has finished.

Returning to the Trust Meter. It is quite a decent concept. JBA on one side, NSA on the other. Complete different objective moves the position one way or the other. Each mission there is a moment where you have to decide between favoring one side. Make sense to me but I do not see why gaining trust of one side necessarily means losing the trust of the other. Just something to make it a bit more interesting however illogical. It does influence the game in that you will receive more gadgets working well with NSA and more ammunition if there is trust for JBA.

The action of the game is getting point A to point B. Is not easy as guards patrol everywhere. Thankfully, Sam Fisher has been equipped with enough gadgets to rival James Bond. Something that blocks out disappears lights, cameras, laser grids called the OCP. Shootable cameras to give you extra pair of eyes. Plenty of knockout equipment both lethal and non-lethal. Great but what is better is that you need to rely on wits more than usual. In past games, it is too easy to knockout guards as most is isolated. This time round, they are placed more densely making it more difficult. The level design is pretty linear, you can hardly get lost, and not when you have a map that is complete with enemy positions. Map is a hell to use, thankfully you do not have to rely on it too much. It divides whole location in sections where each of them focuses on the middle. All the time. So there are more than a few instances, you cannot see where you are so you have to juggle between two map sections.

Of course, seeing this game is stealth, what you are playing is really puzzles in glorified form. It can really frustrate you at some instances hence why this genre is suited for such few gamers. Splinter Cell does not do anything that ease sense of frustration. A slightly over pushed tilt of the controller may cause the guards to spray bullets at you. A speck on the light meter could cause someone from 20 meters away come searching for you. Coupled with the occasional frustrating ledge that Sam refuses to climb over, you can be a very angry person very fast.

Difficulty? I am surprised to learn that there are actually different difficulties. There is hardly any difference between Easy or hard, if you struggle in one, you will in all of them. If you can breeze through, then you can breeze through everything. This game gets easier as you progress until the last levels where it ups the intensity. The hard part is being accustomed to the style.

Also in Splinter Cell: Double Agent is an extensive Multi-player game of Coop. You do separate missions that require you to work together. In some respects, it has more variety than Single player does. Levels are vastly improved from previous games, longer and more entertaining.

This game last way too short however. Some 7-8 missions with similar amount for Multi-Player, which is half the length. Because of the very similar difficulty and lack of unlockables, this game ends when you finish.

Overall Verdict: Spend a day more on the storyline, Ubisoft and you would have produced a top-notch game. In addition, releasing a game in between generation of console is not an excuse to release half a game.
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 8/10
Storyline: 4/10
Gameplay: 8/10
Game length: 5/10
Overall: 7/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 07/30/07

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