Ubi Soft
Ubi Soft
Action/Espionage
1
11.19.02

Splinter Cell


When I first bought Metal Gear Solid, I thought no other game could duplicate it's style or gameplay; stealthily taking out guards, hiding in the shadows. Well that was true until I got my hands on Ubi Soft's Splinter Cell, I don't want to sound biased, but this game is truly amazing as anyone would tell you. One of the key things to notice is the graphics, and the way they made lighting a part of gameplay.

Gameplay

You play the role of Sam Fisher, a member of a Black-Op secret government group dubbed Third Echelon. You're sent off to Russia to a country called Georgia (which country many Tom Clancy novels are based on). You'll also travel around the world trying to uncover who is the main threat.

You have at your disposal many gadgets and weapons. You start off with a handgun, and in later missions you get a rifle capable of using non-lethal ammunition. Some of the gadgets include sticky cameras capable of sticking to a wall and being able to pan and zoom to see dangers you couldn't before. Also, air ring foils which can knock out an unsuspecting guard without killing him. One of my favorites is the distraction cameras which is used exactly like the sticky camera except you get to trigger a whistling noise which attracts a guard, then when he's near it you press a button to release K.O. gas. Speaking of lighting, again, during the game you slip in and out of shadows to remain hidden, but you have the option to shoot out nearly all the lights in the game to make your surroundings darker.

When you grab certain enemies you have the option to interrogate them to make them talk. Then when they have spilled everything you need to know, put him on his ass! Or if you need to, use them as guards for a human shield and fire your gun at the same time.

The second thing you'll notice is the difficulty factor. This is a tough, but enjoyable game which has 10 levels including a training facility where you can get used to the controls which aren't all that tough to get used to. Here, you can learn all of Sam's maneuvers. Besides grabbing a guard to knock him out or use him as a human shield, you can also use his face in a retinal scanning machine to open a door you couldn't before.

A.I. is very important in a game, and where all others left off, Splinter Cell picks up the slack. The guards are not too dumb that if your spotted they just stand there shooting at you, but will actually come after you. Splinter Cell is not so tough that you'll want to stop playing either. When you're next to a guard trying to sneak up on him you have to walk as slow as possible with the controls that are pressure sensitive.

Another feature is your light meter that measures your visibility. During the game you will have to rely on stealth and common sense after you kill or K.O. a guard. You have to hide him in a place where he won't be found. Other tools of the trade you get to use are night vision goggles. Later on in the game you'll get the option to use thermal vision, disposable lock picks and normal lockpicks, and an optical camera that you use to stick under doors to see what's on the other side. Or the option you'll need when you're in a tight spot that calls for more firepower frag grenades.

Graphics

The control and the cool spy gear compliment each other nicely making you want to never put the controller down. The graphics play a major role in trying to immerse into the game the way curtains flap in the breeze and when you pass through any kind of fabric it will actually mold to fit Sam's shape.

As I have stated before, Splinter Cell's graphics just blew me away! I love the soft-physics system where if you run past some curtains or slowly move through them they react just like real curtains forming to Sam's body. Another aspect of the great graphics is the lighting and effects. There is this one level where you have to crawl past some bushes and trees into a tunnel and access a computer. Well in the back is this light bulb with moths fluttering around it casting realistic shadows. In the CIA headquarters mission there is this briefing room with a projector, and if you walk past it people can see your shadow on the screen and you can see things projected on you. Another minor detail, but if you walk up to the projector you can actually see what is being projected, it's little details like this that make this game amazing.

Sound

Now we get to the sound portion of the game, which is okay, but could have been better. The voice of Sam Fisher is done by Michael Ironsides who stared in movies like Starship Troopers and Cold Night Into Dawn. His hoarse and raspy voice makes Sam Fisher seem like a real character. Sounds in game are done nicely; all the gunfire sound's realistic as well as the guard's voices.

Bottom Line:

Though a great game, it does have its flaws. I didn't like that fact that you start off each mission with a certain amount of ammo, because during the game you don't have the ability to pick up the enemies guns. There are some spots in each level where you can find more ammo though. The replay value suffers just a bit, seeing as there is only a few levels which are all pretty straight forward. The fact that you have check points throughout the game detract from the main gameplay because you have to do a certain part of the game over and over.

The game doesn't sport too many levels, but one feature is the ability to download new levels, that is if you have Xbox Live. At the moment that feature is not working, so you'll have to wait.

Go out and get this game, you won't regret it. What else could you want in a game that has great graphics, gameplay and gadgets that would make James Bond envious!

-Chris Juarez




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