Review by Archmonk Iga
"Watch out, Snake. Seriously, he's right behind you! Oh snap..."
This is the game that has given birth to the shameless love I and many others have for Sam Fisher. He seriously is the man, whether you like it or not. His game will stir up some arguments against Metal Gear fans, but there's no doubt about it that Splinter Cell is a revolution when it comes to stealth action.
You are the man, AKA Sam Fisher--a "Splinter Cell." The National Security Agency's subbranch, "Third Echelon" (it's fictional... or is it?) calls you into duty to infiltrate various places to acquire information and execute missions. Sam doesn't need to know the details of what's going on, nor does he care--he's just doing his job.
The story in the first SC installment begins when Sam must find out information as to why two CIA agents have gone missing. This will eventually lead to the discovery that a war that will far surpass the devastation of World War 2 may occur sometime in the near future. Thus, Sam is the world's hero whom nobody knows about.
While the events that go on in the game are fascinating to play through and witness, two things stand out to me even more: the game's main character and the locations he must go.
Sam Fisher is definitely one of my favorite videogame characters of all time. While not much of his personal life is known after one finishes this first game (all we know is that he has a daughter and that he's an ex-navy SEAL/CIA agent), it's his personality that will really attach you to him. His dark sense of humor, his grimly witty remarks to his commander (Lambert), and his overall awesomeness as a Splinter Cell just makes him one of the coolest people anyone will ever play as in a videogame. Sam gets no credit for what he does, and he obviously couldn't care less. Still, he will be the one reason the United States wins the big fight.
The second thing I really like about this game is that Sam travels to many different and interesting locations. Sam travels all over the world, and even will have to infiltrate some allied agencies (my favorite is when he has to sneak around his own CIA buds).
As you can see, Splinter Cell definitely brings something new to the stealth genre--and I don't only mean in the gameplay.
One of the most important parts of the gameplay actually involves the graphics--the lighting effects. Although when you think about it, they are very unrealistic, the lighting in SC is very impressive. Whether it's a dim room with a computer monitor as it's only light source, or a bright street outside filled with lampposts, the lighting that the creators put into this game's graphics looks amazing.
In addition are the actual areas, which, as I discussed before, are very impressive. Whether you're in Russia or the US, inside or outside, on a roof or in a basement, the environments all look very real and detailed. Not to mention a lot of the environment is interactive--glass can be broken, lights can be switched off, walls can be climbed, etc.
Lastly, our star character looks fantastic. Ubisoft made Sam look and move as human as possible, and they did an excellent job from head to toe. His stealth suit looks great, and how can I not mention the iconic goggles he wears? If you see these three green dots ANYWHERE, you'll know who's coming.
Musically, SC does its best. The score fits the attitude of the game nicely, and I really liked how the music picked up as the in-game action picked up. Pretty neato.
The voices are completely flawless. Sam's sarcastic comments are perfectly supported by his amazing voice-actor, and Lambert and the rest of the characters also sound great. Even your everyday guard has his own accent according to the current area you're in, which really is amazing.
Lastly, the sound effects. Unlike most of my other reviews where I don't really care too much about sound effects, SC is the complete opposite. Like the graphics, the SFX play an important role in the gameplay. Real-sounding footsteps, gunshots, creaking doors, shouting, and breaking glass all may completely turn the tables in playing. The sounds definitely help make this game what it is.
And you thought Metal Gear was in-depth? SC no doubt presents some of the most original gameplay in stealth action gaming.
Since Sam is not the head-honcho, he relies on Lambert to communicate with him through a headpiece. With this, Lambert gives Sam his objectives for that stage that must be completed. I make it sound easy, but Sam must slyly get from point A to point B in a variety of ways, with countless obstacles standing in front of him.
First of all, Sam must stay safe. He is armed with guns, night/heat vision goggles, a lockpick, and some alternative ammunition (as in, non-lethal bullets). The main goal throughout each level is simply to not allow ANYONE to know you're there. That could mean sneaking past a guard, knocking him unconscious, or killing him. The best part of making this decision is the way you arrive at it--USE THE DARKNESS. It is Sam's best friend, and he must rely on it more than anything he carries to accomplish his missions. Seriously, a guard could be standing right in front of you, but not have a clue you're there because it's too dark to see you. And then BAM! No more worries about that guy. Such a great feeling.
But it's not that easy. You have to be quiet. You have to be sneaky. You have to remain hidden. If one of the excellent AI guards sees or hears you (or sees another guard lying motionless on the ground), prepare yourself for a tougher challenge. First off, he may warn his friends. Second, he won't forget what he saw/heard, even if you're long gone. Something that makes MGS look like child's play is that once you shoot at an enemy, he will be freaked out. Unlike MGS, where the dummy will eventually forget about it and walk away, the guards in SC will become extremely cautious until the level's done, and do whatever it takes to find you. So that basically means GET RID OF HIM AS FAST AS YOU CAN.
Along with his basic shooting and strangling, there are many other ways to get past the guards without violence. The environment is your "next-best friend" (after darkness, haha), and you will be forced to use it to gain an advantage over the guards. Sure, there's the direct way to get to point B, but it's obviously going to be brightly lit and more secure, which means you'll have to knock out more guards and risk your safety. Why not climb a pipe? Or rappel on a wall? Or maybe crawl through the vents? And then there's my favorite, the zipline.
But wait, there's more! As I said before, you've got your night vision and thermal vision goggles. These may make or break you in some situations. If it's too dark for you to get around, then flip on your night vision and you'll have a huge advantage. If you want to see if there's a guard standing in front of a door you want to go through, put on your thermal vision to see if there's a figure beyond it. One of the most edge-of-your-seat moments takes place in a series of freezing cold rooms, where you essentially HAVE to wear your thermal goggles to see the guards. Now THAT is originality, my friends.
Another feature I love is how you get your information, whether to complete an objective or to help complete it. You can interrogate guards, which is always fun, but you can also sneak onto an enemy's computer and acquire knowledge that, if nothing else, will give you a good laugh.
Another little addition I liked is the lockpick. It's nothing new, but I really liked how Ubisoft had you use it. Instead of automatically lockpicking, you must rotate the thumbstick until you feel a rumble, and continue until the lock is picked. This may not sound like a big deal, but what if there's a guard coming your way? Or what if a camera/turret is about to turn towards you? That's not good! You will have to pick some locks with a lot of pressure on you. Very exciting.
While you play as Sam, you will have this amazing feeling of impossible power. You are more powerful than everyone around you, and they don't even know you're there. Don't you wish you were Sam?
If there's one thing I didn't like, it's with the alternative methods of disposing of enemies. Sure, they're fun to use at times, but most of the time they're completely unnecessary--it's usually easier just to knock them out with your hands. Not to mention you could miss and have the guard trigger an alarm. And what's the fun in getting more game overs? Not a big deal, but the technology in the game isn't as needed as the game makes it out to be.
So Solid Snake, you've got some competition now. Have fun with that, buddy. Seriously, you will love playing every exciting moment of Splinter Cell.
This is why the game didn't get a perfect score. While Sam's mission to prevent WW3 isn't easy, it is far from the longest game in the world. There are lots of missions, yes, but they shouldn't last anyone more than 2+ hours. Still, they are paced very nicely... but in the end, SC really doesn't last that long. Don't worry though, multiplayer isn't too far away!
LASTING APPEAL: 7.5/10
So it's not the longest playthrough in the world. Sam Fisher himself is reason enough to play SC. The game looks and sounds spectacular, and the overall real-world theme of it is just amazing. It also makes me wonder what the US government is really up to these days... Ahem, anyway. Splinter Cell is an experience you can't pass up. I was never very fond of stealth action until I played this game, honestly. I guess I'll end with an important fact: SAM FISHER IS THE MAN!!!!
OVERALL: 9/10 (About a 9.3, actually)
Thanks for reading =)
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/03/07
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