Review by TheRetroPlayer
"The game is an worthy entry, but it got some small storyline gripes."
An outstanding game, but sadly married to an not so outstanding execution of the double agent theme. The gameplay from the last game is not broken, so there is no need for fixing on the original Xbox. The storyline is impressive, yet it seems that it feels rushed. Its disappointing enough that you're stuck on a linear path through the game no matter what you do as a double agent. You would expect Sam to sell out to the JBA in some fashion if he gets too deep into the organization, or his mission objectives will change dramatically if he gets too sympathetic with the NSA, but that is not really the case. More info in the review.
Chaos Theory and this game has the best graphics I seen in any 6th generation game I played next to Dead or Alive Ultimate 2 and DOA 3. The environments are realistic, and the lighting is rich in many areas. The first level, I like how waxed the ice sheets even look. I forgot to mention that the rag doll physics are still here, so expect everyone to show off their super flexibility when they die. My only problem is that the game has slightly more darkness than the last one, but its its alright I guess, also after playing this game again after some time, I find the graphics to not be what I remembered for some reason, but could be due to the small CRT TV that I use to play older games that I got which was a stupid move instead of keeping my older bigger one since games many games like this one don't look that good on there, even with s-video or component. There is no improvements or any degradation from the last game outside of that, so don't expect anything worse or better here.
Sound and Music 7/10
Fits the mood of the game well enough, and I am not one to talk much about the music in the game since its just there to me. Most of the themes are forgettable, but not in a bad way in this case. The soundtrack is not as good as Chaos Theory, but it still gets the job done.
The same tricks from Chaos Theory is back. The controls are easy to learn, and returning vets will find it easy to jump back into the mold. The many optional tutorials can teach you how to do things in game. For example, you need to use a less than lethal weapon, and a option to access the tutorial to know how appears above. I guess this is convenient for those too lazy or just don't want to read the manual that comes with the game. I was just surprised that it didn't tell anything about disarming bombs of all things, thus forcing you to read the manual. I found that rather interesting. So the point is, learning the controls are easier than ever for those that are actually playing this as their first Splinter Cell game.
I have a lot to say about this one, but I'll be holding back some stuff to prevent spoilers. The game starts off with Sam Fisher in a team mission with a rookie splinter cell in Iceland. After the mission, Sam finds out something that changes his life, and after sometime, he ends up taking an extremely risky mission, and that is being a double agent for the NSA working inside the JBA (John Brown's Army), who had links to a deal over a weapon in Iceland. He gets into the group, but while there, he has keep his loyalty to both sides, there is a meter telling you if you are going to far to one group or the other.
The only way to keep your meter balance is by being careful about opposing objectives that you get during each mission. For example, the JBA wants you to kill someone, but the NSA wants you to only merely knock them out or spare them. You would have to be wise about what to do in this case. The only things that happens if you don't keep a balance sense of loyalty to both sides is it can effect what gadgets you can get for certain missions or you have to log into a computer to get get the meter balanced out for a few examples. The computer thing happens if you go too far to one side, but I never went to far to the NSA side to see what happens then.
Some gripes. My problem is that it does not explain in detail why and how being a double agent would be a more effective idea than just Sam sneaking around for info and just eliminating their leaders just like in the older games. The motivation for the JBA to commit their acts of terrorism is not really explained too well, but the next-generation version does not help that much either outside of the typical radical revolutionary mindset of wanting to see change in a society the feel is corrupted and in the wrong hands by doing what they are doing. They are even comparing themselves to an abolitionist that lived back in the 1800s that went by the the name John Brown for one.
Certain story elements seem to just suddenly happen. I can't say much of anything about it since they involve serious spoilers, but I will do my best to give examples, nevertheless. The suddenness of one event revealed a obvious plot device I saw coming that decided the fate of one of the missions, and keep in mind I am hardly a critic when it comes to storylines and other fiction related stories and I still noticed this. The relationship Sam has with someone had little build up or mention that came out of nowhere, and the final events of the game automatically came into place almost out of nowhere also. Its not a big deal too much, but you can just feel the rush in this storyline.
This game gave me the idea that it was possible for Sam to go too deep into his cover to the point of him actually assimilating into the JBA (some kind of change in how the missions would work after that), or becomes too sympathetic with the NSA to the point were he would have to take a different set of missions to end the JBA later down the line, or stay a double agent as long as he stays as neutral as possible. The endings are only determined by only a single main objective and that is disappointing to say the least, so this means it really does not matter how you play the game in the end.
This is the best part about the game itself. It plays like Chaos Theory, and that is a good thing. You have to sneak around, and interrogate various soldiers and mercenaries. You get to use many gadgets like combat weapons, hacking equipment used to break into computers and other electronic devices to help you out during the missions. Some missions will require you to use force extensively and in a loud matter like the last games in places were its needed or when everyone knows you're there, expecting you to come out. You can place this game as pure spy 98% of the time or as a gunner that uses 50% stealth. You actually can really afford to do go around stabbing people if you feeling impatient on normal mode since you can take more hits and health kits are everywhere. One more thing, beware of the many cameras in this game since they're a ton of them in many levels comparing to the last entries into the series.
The gameplay is perfect, but the storyline is keeping me from giving it a 9/10 sadly. I must've overhyped myself with the storyline and missed the point, but at least everyone is saying that the next-generation version of this game has worst storyline telling which is true since I played that version as well since things in that version just happens as it assumes you know what going on already. The developers could not decide on which timeline they wanted until Conviction, and the one they went with is not this one. They should have since the game Splinter Cell: Essentials took place right after this version of the game, but they threw that out the window for whatever reason, but the old-generation version of this game is a lot better overall.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 07/15/09, Updated 02/02/15
Game Release: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent (US, 10/24/06)
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