Review by LordShibas

"Another Great Splinter Cell Game"

The Splinter Cell series moves forward with Pandora Tomorrow, the sequel to the original Splinter Cell . The original Splinter Cell was one of my favorite games I have played on the Xbox, and I was hoping that Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow was every bit as good as its predecessor. I remember when Pandora Tomorrow first came out, and some people were unhappy with the game, saying it was too much like the original. I'm guessing that these were the same people that complained about Max Payne 2 being too much like Max Payne, even though it was a great game.

After playing all the way through PT, I can say that PT does not break much new ground for the series, but excels at being a worthy follow-up to the original Splinter Cell in every way. PT gets a slight graphical upgrade, a few new moves for Sam, and 8 new missions to sneak your way through. While the game is on the short side, it's rock solid Splinter Cell stealth gameplay, which I have grown to love.

PT is also slightly more forgiving than it's predecessor. While some missions are still limited to 3 alarms, the alert level will now go down if you go undetected for a short while. Allowing you to have a few more mess-ups per level, which was nice. There are no longer sweeps of previous areas to see if you have hid bodies well enough or not. I found this feature to be very annoying in the first Splinter Cell and I'm glad it was removed.

If you combine these new features with the previous Splinter Cell experience, you are looking at a slightly easier game than the first Splinter Cell. I think this was a good thing since the first Splinter Cell could easily get frustrating. Making you redo areas over and over again detracted from the enjoyment of the game.

The difficulty in PT ramps up big time for the Jakarta mission, which is so tough that it almost seems out of place, but the difficulty comes back down afterwards. I found the Jakarta mission in PT to be one of the toughest levels I have ever played through in the Splinter Cell series.

Now let's look at a more in depth breakdown of PT. (This review is for the single player only, I did not try the multi-player)

Graphics 9/10

Simply put, this game looks amazing. The first Splinter Cell was a beautiful game, and this one looks slightly better. The lighting affects are great, the infra-red goggles and night vision goggles look perfect, and Sam's movements look as good as ever. One thing you will quickly notice about PT is the many outdoor levels which break up the monotony of the indoor environments. Extra special attention was given to these levels and they look great. When wading through knee high grass, you can crouch to use it as cover and sneak your way to your objectives. The grass will push down when you walk over it, and spring back up after you have passed it. The outdoor environments look just as good, if not better than the indoor environments.

Most missions give you plenty of darkness to hide in and give you plenty of lights to shoot out so you can make your own darkness. The character animations are about the same as the first game. Sometimes the character models may look a little goofy up close, but for the most part, they look great.

Story 8/10

You will be chasing after the Indonesian terrorist Sadono and his comrade Norman Soth, who are aiming to set off a biological infestation of small pox. The story is told through news clips between levels, and your radio allies Lambert and Anna Grimsdottir. You will meet others along the way. Some will help you, some will betray you.

The story holds up okay, but I've always found the Splinter Cell series to be more about great gameplay than story.

Sounds and music 9/10

Sounds will play a large roll in your ability to be surreptitious. Your aim is to make as little noise as possible to avoid being detected by the terrorists. All of the sounds are good, and give you a very immersive feel for your surroundings. Sam's silenced weapons will help him sneak around and take out enemies.

The music is quiet for the most part until you get detected. Then the music will start, and heighten the tension. Once you are in the clear, the music will go back to almost nothing, and you can continue to go about your business.

Everything from Sam drawing his guns, to opening doors, to hearing cameras which you must avoid sound great, and help the game along. Speaking of the sounds, one of Sam's new moves is being able to whistle, so he can get the attention of enemies and send them patrolling to look for the cause of the noise. Using this, you can lure them out and dispose of them as you see fit. This is a very handy tool to use in the game.

Controls 9/10

After playing the first Splinter Cell, the controls seem like second nature. In my opinion, the Splinter Cell series offers the best camera controls that gaming has to offer, which helps out the game in a big way. The only time the camera is restricted is when you are pressed up against the wall.

Despite the great controls and camera, I chose to give a 9, since the controls can be a bit awkward when you are forced into fast paced firefights. These moments are not very often, but the controls will hinder you at these parts of the game.

Gameplay 9/10

Splinter Cell is about offering the player incredible gameplay and stealth action. It's not as story driven as the Metal Gear series, bit it's not aiming to be. You will get your objectives and be thrown into the mission. During missions, you have so many options due to the gameplay structure that you can go through any given level multiple ways, and get the same results. You can try your hand at stealth and try not to kill enemies, or you can lure them out and dispatch them one by one. Charging in guns a blazing will cause Sam to die about 90% of the time, but it's still an option.

Most gameplay elements have returned from the previous game. You will be hacking turrets, shooting out lights to hide yourself, and trailing enemies to get information. The main difference this time are the locations that you will do these things at. You will be dropped on top of a train and have to make your way through it. You will need to infiltrate a sub bay and make your way all the way into the submarine. Finally you will end up at the Los Angeles airport, with civilians a plenty, and a bomb to defuse.

The game does a great job of keeping the missions fresh and giving the player a lot of things to do in each mission.

As I said previously, the game difficulty has been scaled down, but don't let that fool you, this is still one tough game. You will have a lot of trial and error runs through the levels just to see what works well, and learn the patrols of the enemies. There are missions where you can not be seen at all, but these are balanced well with missions that allow you to use lethal force. Despite PT being a stealth game, the developers know that you want to headshot enemies with the SC-20K, so it's an option for a good majority of the missions.

After all is said and done, the gameplay in Splinter Cell is what makes it a great game, and will keep you playing until the end. You may get discouraged along the way, but you will find yourself reloading saves and trying to get through levels since they are so much fun.

Re-playability 9/10

There are so many thing to do in Splinter Cell and multiple ways to do it that you could play this game quite a few times and never get bored. Once I finished the last level, I really had to fight the urge to start over and use my new found knowledge to try for a better playthrough of the game. This is a game I would like to revisit someday.

Anyone who has enjoyed a Splinter Cell game should go out and pick up this game. It's all the first game was and then some. I know that some people blew this game off and went straight to Chaos Theory since it was so good, but I would recommend playing this game, even if you have already played Chaos Theory and Double Agent.

The Splinter Cell series has yet to let me down.

My review score 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/06/07, Updated 06/26/09

Game Release: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow (US, 03/23/04)

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