Review by gundragoon

"Stealth Action Redefined indeed!"

Tom Clancy's splinter cell is a stealth game. It focuses on the points of staying invisible, not existing, and getting the job done no matter what it takes. So, is Splinter Cell a masterpiece of stealth, the definitive experience, or an over-hyped Metal Gear Solid clone that doesn't deserve half the hype and praise it's gotten? Keep reading to find out!

Story 9/10
The story takes place in the year 2004. A country named Georgia has lost its leader, and a new man has seized power. Relations between U.S. and Georgia are good, until two CIA moles in the Georgian cabinet suddenly go missing. It is up to you, Sam Fisher, Third Echelon's most advanced intelligence-gathering operative, to find out what happened. An so the game begins.

Gameplay 10/10
Splinter Cell is based on the notion that you are Sam Fisher, going to gather intelligence to prevent another world war from erupting. Now, this particular part of the plot is very important to the gameplay. I have heard numerous criticisms that you are not allowed to kill people, which is only true when NOT killing people is essential to the plot. For instance, one mission takes place in a U.S. government agency (I don't want to spoil too much, so I won't say which one), and you are not allowed to kill anyone because while your mission is very important, it would undermine the purpose of your mission if you were to kill everyone within the agency. Sure, they'll all wake up with headaches in the morning, but they will, in fact, wake up. Another person said that it was ridiculous that you couldn't pick up and use enemies' weapons, because the bullets wouldn't be traced. This, also, is not true. Not only do you have a different type of weapon, but the bullets cannot be traced, because otherwise you would not be allowed to fire them. Anyway, let me get back to the gameplay: This is not a Metal Gear Solid clone, and many people expect an experience similar to MGS, and if you do, stop RIGHT there. This is nothing like MGS. Metal Gear is about action, and killing everything. Splinter Cell is about accomplishing your objective without, essentially, existing. Killing is a side note that is to be used ONLY if it is necessary to accomplish your objective. A lot of the people that don't like this game seem to be under the notion that anything and everything must die. It is possible, in fact, to get through the entire game save for the last level and a couple of other areas without even touching a guard. It's hard, but doable. Your primary goal is to become a wraith's shadow: You do not exist. The controls are about as perfect as they come. You can split jump, couch, roll, run, jump, climb, sneak, shimmy, shoot, punch, grab throw, use, and slide, all surprisingly intuitive. The jumps are a little stiff, but this is not a platformer, and you never have to do any hard jumping, so it really doesn't matter. The stealth element is executed perfectly - the thumbstick has a great sensetivity that measures how quietly you sneak. In the bottom-right corner, there is also a meter that tells you how well-hidden you are. At five, you're lit up like a Dutch brothel. At zero, you're a ghost's shadow. There are also a number of gadgets at your disposal, reducing the trial-and-error factor of Splinter Cell severely. For instance, there is a camera that sticks to any surface that you can use to recon the guards' patrols, so you can have a plan of action before acting. There is also a camera that makes noises and has a gas canister attatched to it, so you can distract a guard then knock him out with the gas. There is also a lockpick system that is executed perfectly. There are a large number of other things, but I want most of it to be a surprise if you buy it. The levels are also done very well. Every defense system can be circumvented in at least two ways, and can all be done flawlessly if you do it right. To add to the stealth element, almost every light can be shot out. An exmaple of how there are multiple solutions to one problem: There is a level early in the game in which there is a corridor of jail cells that a guard is patrolling. You can: shoot out the lights, then shoot or punch him, you could do a split jump, then when he walks under you, drop on top of him and knock him out, throw a bottle to distract him, any of the game's many elements can be implemented in any situation. You are also equipped with very cool night vision goggles that give you a huge edge over the competition. You also have thermal vision. here are a couple of shootouts that seem an kind of unwelcome departure from stealth, simply because without stealth Sam Fisher is a 40-year-old guy with a suit. Otherwise, great. To put it simply: this game is ****ing fun.

Graphics 10/10
Excellent. Perfect. Amazing. Awesome. Breathtaking. Any of these words can be used to describe the graphics. They are all drawn by hand, and with seamless transitions from repelling to rolling. And the lighting, my god, the lighting. Best lighting effects I have ever seen. The shadows are, literally, perfect. There are multiple shadows from one source, dynamic lighting, everything. The best part of the game, aside from the actual gameplay. Truly great.

Sound 9/10
This, also, is great. The music perfectly fits the game, and as the tension rises, the music changes to fit. My only problem here is that some things that are supposed to silent, for instance knocking people out, make more noise than makes sense.

Final Verdict 9.9/10
Wow. Just, wow. This is a great game, and you will be playing it over and over (I am currently trying it again on hard mode). It is addictive, and very, very fun. It definitely deserves more than a rent. You know what you must do. Buy it!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 02/24/04

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