Review by majorm

"Sam is still "The Man""

I loved the first Splinter Cell so to say I have been anxiously awaiting Pandora Tomorrow is an understatement. I have not been disappointed. I have read where some people are complaining with kind of a “been there, done that” attitude with regard to the single player game. When a game is as well done and successful as the first SC, why would you change much?

Graphics: 10
The graphics in single player are not a whole lot different than they were in the first game. Of course the first game was ground breaking and mind blowing. I know some games have come close since but this is about as good as a game can look on a console. The lights and shadows are there of course and Sam moves so fluidly and just looks so real. I am a little surprised that they didn’t address the small physics issue of body parts going through walls when you move them around. I probably wouldn’t think much of it but I read somewhere that was something they targeted for improvement. It may be a little better. I don’t recall seeing any guy’s head sticking through a wall from the other side like in the first game. I would probably only give a 9 to the single player graphics since they haven’t changed a lot in two years but the 10 is because of the look of the multiplayer game. It is awesome. It just has a little crisper look than single player. It reminds me a little of Deus Ex: Invisible War but with a smoother framerate. I’m walking around as a merc and thinking what an incredible first person shooter experience this is. The graphics just really pop in the first person perspective. I love the way the gun slowly bobs up and down with your breathing. I’m sure this isn’t the first game to do that but I don’t remember noticing it before like I did in this one.
It is - like the first game - a visual masterpiece.

Gameplay: 10
Again, not a lot of change in single player but why would there be? The first game control was smooth and precise so no need to do a lot and they didn’t. There are a few slight changes that I think are welcome. You now only have to push down on the left thumbstick to go “back to the wall”. That makes it easier so you do it more often. You have a better sniper mode that you get into by clicking the right thumbstick and then zoom with the d-pad. You still pull the L trigger to “hold your breath” and I still wish Sam could hold his breath longer sometimes. You have a half split-jump that is actually useful on a few occasions. Binoculars are now available anytime by pushing the right thumbstick without your gun drawn. They zoom as well using the d-pad and you also have easier access to your optic cable. It is now an option that just comes up when you come to a door. It also is now equipped with night and thermal vision. You now can whistle to attract the attention of guards by pressing the black button. You don’t have to search for a can or bottle to throw. It makes it much easier to draw them to where you want them to either sneak behind them or knock them out. You also have different paths to many objectives so that adds to the replay value.
They have taken gameplay that was awesome and improved it slightly. What could be better? Maybe the multiplayer. Your spy guy moves more quickly than Sam which is a good thing when you’ve just been shot, dropped a flash bang and need to get in that air vent like ten seconds ago. The control scheme is a bit different than single but basically the same when you play as a spy. I think playing as a merc is REALLY cool. I mentioned earlier the look of the multiplayer is fantastic and so is the control. It’s super smooth and precise. I want to be able to put my target right where I want it and you can. Deus Ex and R63 are both great games but I wish they controlled as nice as this.

Sound 9:
Appropriate sounds with regard to your environment although I’ve never shot a gun inside a room on a catwalk I’m guessing it sounds like that. I know that a lot of work must go into the sound effects but I have to be honest. It’s just not something I really think about. It just sounds like I think it should sound and I guess that’s good. Of course - like in the first game - the music has a pivotal role. That’s how you know when you’re in trouble. It’s like the theme from “Jaws”. When you hear that music…
My only complaint I think has been shared by others. Beyond the main characters, the voice acting is flat out bad. A little surprising considering the quality of the game otherwise.

Replay Value: 10
The single player has plenty of replay value. Try it again a different way. See if you can get by those guys unseen and unheard without drawing your gun or knocking them out. Of course, the real replay value is in the incredible multiplayer game. You will spend many hours with this disc in your Xbox.

Overall: 10
They took a great game and made it better. Whether or not it’s as challenging as the first or has a better story is up for debate but the gameplay tweaks were welcome. They didn’t need to change a whole lot and they didn’t for single player. The multiplayer is the talk of the gaming world. As far as I’m concerned, I can’t get enough of Sam, Lambert, Grim, Coen and the rest of the gang at Third Echelon. When does the next Splinter Cell come out?

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/12/04

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