Review by quadgunnar

"A Tale of Two Splinter Cells"

Oh boy, things are looking worse for Nintendo by the minute. Being left out on this second installment of the quickly rising Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is not something a system developer would want to have on their list. Ubisoft outdid itself, releasing one of the most compelling and stealthily fun multiplayer platformers ever while still maintaing a moving storyline in single player mode. Sure, Nintendo's GameCube offers internet capability, but the Xbox and PS2s abilities to bring down the online house completely overshadow the failing light of Nintendo Online. But I digress.

The game. Our creeping protagonist Sam Fisher finds himself on another daring mission for the ol' US of A. Unfortunately, Sam's finding new terrain on this mission, due to Indonesia being the main setting. Jungle combat, rural cities, and even suburbs contribute to the gorgeous textures of SCPT. The game poses a great story, and good reasons as to why you can't just "blow everyone up".

Splinter Cell vets will instantly be familiar with the stellar gameplay; newcomers won't have issues picking it up either. Even with the complex combatative movements and array of weapons and gadgets at your disposition, SCPT is not a difficult game to pick up and play. Level design quality, story elements that reside in-game, and a very intricately balanced enemy AI make for a grabbing game that you won't be able to put down.

Now, for all you Xbox owners out there, the game is better for you. A lot of unique level animations were omitted from the Cube and PS2 versions that the developers retained for the Xbox becuase it's the "original system". The developers also programmed controls to be a lot easier to use on the Xbox due to the fact that they are very familiar with the Xbox controller.

Let's not forget the online shinings. You may not think that single person infiltration merges well with online multiplayer capabilities, but Ubisoft takes it in stride and more. I never realized how much fun teamplay is if you sneak up on a player just to combo him out quick.

Individual Ratings:

Concept/Storyline - 9/10

Although results differ between platforms, the story still compels in single player mode. You have to discover the identity of a new Indonesian terrorist, discover what crimes he's committed, how to eliminate his "insurance plan", and finally penetrate his wide defense and delete him.

Graphics - 10/10

Beautiful textures, facial expressions, lighting effects, muzzlefire, and character movement animations make it obvious that the developers spent a lot of time making sure everything looked perfect. Sam himself also contained a lot of detail, with slick wetsuits for rainy weather, fitting t-shirt/cargo pant entorrage for jungle combat, and, as always, the new UbiSoft trademark three-point nightvision goggles. I guess they are pretty cool.

Sound - 10/10

A musical score to fit the mood, slow and mellow during stealth gameplay, then fast-paced during combat. Voice acting is supreme, and the soldiers actually have good language translations this time around. The gunfire also hits the right spots, with silenced weapons actually sounding right for the second time in this series, nonlethal stun weapons making correct noises, and all around ambience, with footsteps, T.V.s, and phone conversations.

Controls - 10/10

Utilizing all of the possible button combinations on the Xbox controller, it is fun to play SCPT, creep around, jump and spread between walls, draw your weapon, shoot out a light, turn on night-vision, and land silently--all using less than five buttons. SCPT is really that simple.

Gameplay - 9/10

The single player is compelling again, but real innovation is evident in online multiplayer capabilities. Don't miss out on this. Two main weapons, but each has its pros and cons. The pistol offers precision and silence, but is always lethal, which doesn't work on non-lethal missions. The SC-20K Automatic is silent, automatic, and lethal, but also offers airfoil rounds, which deliver a traumatic shock to the victim, sticky shockers, which stun the victim much like a stun gun, and sticky cameras, with which you can either view guard post patterns and/or emit gas after distracting them to knock them out. Also at your disposal are a lock pick, silent explosion lock picks, optical cable for under-door viewing, laser microphone for long distance recording, and night, thermal, along with normal vision modes.

All in all, SCPT is a buy for Splinter Cell vets, and at least a rent for newcomers. Also, the game contains moderate replay value. Enjoy!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/09/04

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