Review by aliabuaziz

"It's on the cover: Stealth Action Redefined"

It’s on the box: “Stealth Action Redefined”

Wow it’s a good time to own any console. PS2 owners are pretending to live in a perfect world with no consequences in Vice City. Gamecube owners can tote Metroid Prime to be revolutionary as it is a fantastic game with one giant level. Xbox owners are shouting into there headsets while playing Mech Assault online. Xbox owners also have the first go at Splinter Cell.

Story (9/10)
Largely influenced by Tom Clancy’s idea (no he didn’t just sell his name for the game), the story is excellent. You are Sam Fisher. You have the fifth freedom to ensure that the American way of life is protected by almost any means necessary. Apparently Georgia, a small, former Soviet Republic becomes a threat to the U.S. (I won’t say how, but it makes sense). You must investigate who is responsible and who is helping them.
The only gripe I have about the story is the ultra-patriotic American slant. It’s too much for my taste.

Gameplay (9/10)
The game is very fun and keeps you, the player on your toes when doing a mission. You must sneak behind guards and soldiers, to achieve your mission’s goals (and they change during the mission). Often, your objective begins to find out what happened, and Lambert (in essence, your boss) will tell your new objectives (because he sees and hears what you do through the gear you wear).
There are 10 missions in all, and they all take a long time. On average, it will take you several hours to complete each one. In some missions, like the memorable mission where you must infiltrate the CIA and find the mole you cannot kill anyone. You can only knock them out. Luckily you are given the means of doing so, with compressed air foil rounds, shocking devices, and gas that knocks individuals out. Each mission is quite different from the other (it’s never the same thing in my opinion).
The game can be played several ways. You can sneak around the whole time and only incapacitate when you must and rarely kill. You can snipe and knockout most of your enemies and busy yourself with hiding their bodies in dark rooms and areas. You can put your rifle into automatic and kill many enemies (but this is not recommended).
If you are not in a dark area or run, enemies can see and hear you. Civilians will inform guards and press alarms (this can result in mission failure). You must be careful about every move you make. If not you will lose.
The game frustrated me on two occasions and I became very upset because I could not execute what I knew to do properly.

Graphics (9/10)
The shadows, the faces on the people, the frame rate, the accuracy of enemy weapons, the lighting are all done extremely well. This game fully utilizes the power of the Xbox, something users on the other consoles will probably miss. And it is an important facet to this game. You often do have to find and sneak in the shadows.

Sound (10/10)
The music complements the game perfectly. First of all, I loved it how the music can often alert you as to what the enemies are doing. The music changes when they become suspicious. Then it changes when they realize you are there into something even more fast paced to complement the action you have probably stumbled into. Interestingly, when hearing this mission, you’ve probably failed and will just reset to the last checkpoint without even bothering to fight your way out. The voice acting of the main characters are great (I wish Sam Fisher was played by Alec Baldwin like in the Hunt for Red October but hey…you can’t have it all).
My only wish is that games like these with foreigners have the enemies speak in their original tongue and just give us subtitles. Especially for a game attempting to be as realistic as this one. I doubt Chinese people speak English with heavy accents in the Chinese embassy. However, this is just a personal wish of mine, and you may hate my idea, but it’s just a thought.

Value (9/10)
The price tag at Best Buy is $40. Considering you will be able to download new, free content via Xbox live, I think this game has a good value. I can definitely see playing this game twice. I played the game, sniping almost all my enemies then hiding them. I probably will play it again trying to sneak by as many individuals as I can and kill only when I need to!

Overall: 9.5
In my opinion this is the best game on the Xbox since HALO. If you tend not to like stealth games, maybe you should give it a rent first. If you like games like Hitman 2 or movies like Bond (not the games, the movies where spying is involved), a definite must buy.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/10/03, Updated 01/10/03

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