Review by PuppetSoul

"Splinter Cell: Clone Wars"

When I saw the box for Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow I was taken back to fond memories of the original Splinter Cell; accidentally tripping alarms or not hiding bodies properly and having to redo an entire level, trying to figure out how a soldier spotted me in complete darkness while I wasn't moving, etc. So naturally, I had to buy the sequel. I love a good challenge after all.
And Pandora Tomorrow doesn't disappoint! Whether you're getting caught trying to sneak up on someone or on the receiving end of a gun butt to the face, there are endless ways to fail. But that's the best part!

Story- 5
Sam's back and ready to silently solve the world's problems in this sequel. Being an aging secret agent has its perks, as Sam seems to have contacts with everyone. However none of them are memorable. In fact, I can't recall any of their names and I finished the game less than twenty-four hours before writing this. The story isn't really important, and you're never forced to recall any of it to complete an objective. Other than identifying friend from foe names don't matter; but if you shoot a friendly you just fail and get some witty message about being a psychopath.

Controls - 9
Other than a small issue I have with layout, the controls are perfect. They respond well, and you can easily navigate from place to place without difficulty. The only problem I've found is that when you activate the Y button (universal jump-type action button) to jump onto a pole that's against a wall, you'll find yourself doing a kung-fu style back flip off the wall, or vice-versa. This really isn't a problem in the single player aspect of the game, but it can be tedious in multiplayer, where timing is everything. Another little irk is that the black button is listed as ''whistle'' for mercenaries in multiplayer yet does absolutely nothing.

Gameplay - 10
You've never been able to choose not to do something before in an action game. There are literally a million ways to botch a mission; from killing friendlies, to setting off too many alarms, to just plain get the smack laid down on you. Its never overly annoying to get a game over, as it usually only sets you back a few minutes so that you can retrace your steps back to the point of failure and either correct your mistake, or as I like to do, find a new way to fail. On the plus side, you receive extra ammo in this installment. Naturally this made me attempt to rambo my way through the entire game, which is impossible on some levels because killing an enemy also results in a botched mission. This also lead me into some epic battles between myself and several heavily armed guards who were more than happy to assist me in warping back to the checkpoint.

Sound - 10
Everything makes a sound. The lights, the birds, the water, even GRASS makes a sound. And its all realistic (except for the guns, which are kind of muffled so you don't go deaf). Sam Fisher is voiced by Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers, etc) who does a fantastic job. All the other characters fit well also (even if their accents are cheesy and they speak english even though they're from other countries). The sound is almost real enough to make you believe that it could have been filmed on location in a terrorist controlled embassy, a moving train, etc. The pack-gear sound the mercenaries make when they roll is my new favorite sound effect from a video game.

Replay - 9
You'll find yourself replaying the single player A LOT. Because you'll botch each of the missions at least fifty times before you successfully complete them. Then you'll probably go back and try to finish the game in different styles (Rambo, Stealth, Joker). This is all before mentioning the multiplayer.

Multiplayer - 7
The multiplayer is almost like playing a separate game. In fact, it probably should have BEEN a separate game. Its like the difference between RTCW's Single and Multi had the single player for it had also been stealth-action instead of a FPS. You see, the multiplayer pits Spies (who play like Sam Fisher with a sky-mask) against Mercenaries (who play with a FPS interface). At first trial the multiplayer was flawless, I enjoyed killing people, and being killed. Whether you were successful or not you felt fulfilled after the game was over. Then people started figuring out the many (emphasis on MANY) bugs and cheap tactics that are inherent when you pit the two different animals against each other. The spies job is to either grab, disable, or hack a small white box with a green canister inside called a ND133 that the Mercenaries are defending. Depending on which side you play as, the definition of what this ND133 actually is changes to make your side sound like the ''good guys''. The spies equipment layout revolves around stealth, giving you several tools normally associated with escape; many which render the mercenary either unconscious or disoriented. Meanwhile the mercenaries equipment tends to be either anti-stealth or just plain lethal. However the developer Ubisoft did not realize that the spy's payload works much more effectively in a heavily offensive strategy, because the mercenary is not given equipment to counter the spies ''escape tools''. This leads to a plethora of cheap tactics and the online component of the game is heavily imbalanced. Considering that Ubisoft is actually working to fix several of the other more pressing issues that the game was launched with, this will probably be corrected in time; as the Tom Clancy games are Ubisoft's flagship series. There is mention of downloadable content, but except for the patches to critical errors, there is nothing yet. However I'll wait till they fix all the bigger problems before I pan a great game over lack of ''extras''.

Overall the single player game feels too much like an expansion pack and not like a true sequel. The multiplayer is the obvious selling point for the game.
So in conclusion I encourage everyone to at least try this game, if only because it actually requires effort to conquer; much like the original. Buy it if you like the multiplayer though, since I expect that they will revamp this to be even better through various re-balancing upgrades.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 04/07/04

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