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Product: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
Company: Ubi Soft
Website: http://www.splintercell.com/us/
Estimated Street Price: $49.95
Review By: Todd Richardson


The Buzz (Introduction)


We’ve all heard the hype around Splinter Cell.  “Game of the year!” some call it.  “Better than Medal Gear Solid,” others proclaim.  Well, the game is good - very good.  Is it the best video game ever?  Certainly not.  Is it the best Xbox game ever?  Perhaps.  Personally, I found this to be the best game I have every played on the Big Box, though my tastes are often different than the average gamer. Read on to find out.

The Features


Splinter Cell has some of the most advanced lighting effects ever.  If you have read many other reviews for the game, this will sound clichéd, but I have no idea how they are going to port this to the PS2.  After the training session, you are thrown right into the action… sort of.  In the beginning of the first mission, you must rush through a burning building to find someone trapped in the rubble.  The fire is remarkable.  If you look real close, you can pick up patterns in the flames (especially during the movie), but unless you look at it with an extremely critical eye, you will be amazed.  This is just a sample of the lighting effects to come. 

The game also uses the Xbox’s hard drive to improve the music.  It isn’t just the canned music you generally get.  If the guards around you are suspicious, the music becomes tenser, both contributing to the games environment as well as giving you a clue as to the guards’ temperament.  The only drawback to this is that, while it is quite good, the music becomes somewhat repetitive, with very similar songs playing over and over again.

Gameplay

 The gameplay is remarkable and is what everyone will be talking about.  The controller layout is intuitive and logical (although I find myself occasionally hitting the Action button when I should be pulling the trigger while using some of Fisher's goodies).  The camera view is easy to control – which can be a major advantage. 

 Fisher has many acrobatic moves, and the game makes you use them all.  Some think controlling all of his maneuvers with basically four buttons would be difficult, but they come naturally.  Some missions, like the Oil Rig, will require you to use almost all of the maneuvers to get around obstacles and get you to where you need to be.  These can be some of the most fun, and challenging, missions.  It can be easy to get frustrated when you get to a very well lit room with guards coming down the elevator and you have essentially no place to hide.  Eventually, though, you will figure it all out, and there are often multiple ways to get it done.

Review Quotes
"While Splinter Cell does give you a gun, it is often more fun not to use it."

While Splinter Cell does give you a gun, it is often more fun not to use it.  Sneaking around can be the most fun part.  You can always run (or tiptoe, rather) up behind someone and knock them out.  Or, even more fun, drop down from the ceiling right on top of a person.  By pressing the crouch button, you can knock someone out while hardly making a sound.  Just make sure you are right over them, because once they start shooting, you better draw your gun fast!  In some missions, you are not allowed to kill a single person, making moves like those absolutely necessary. 

 There are a ton of gadgets to play with.  For instance, you can look under locked doors with your Optical Cable.  Just slide it under a door and you can see what’s going on in there.  If it turns out you need to go into that room, you can use either a traditional lock pick, or a disposable lock pick.  A disposable lock pick is much quicker than the traditional pick, but with a limited number of them, it is often better to go with the traditional lock pick.  With that, you actually have to move around the pick until you move the pins aligned properly.  This is a great use of force-feedback, since most games only use them during explosions and other, less imaginative ways.  There are many other tools you can use, including many cameras.  If you can’t kill anyone, or you are out of ammunition, you can use the sticky camera to knock people out, and since you can use it over and over again, you won’t run out.  There are also a lot of gadgets that can be used to divert guards.

 There is no point where Splinter Cell runs into trouble.  There are little things here and there, like some of the ‘scheduled’ alarms or the trial-and-error aspect, that people will frown on.  You can’t collect ammunition from downed enemies, which makes saving ammo essential.  The game play is also a tad linear, but no worse than most games.  The game easily makes up for ALL of its faults elsewhere, though.

Graphics And Sound

As previously mentioned, the music is very good.  Although it can become fairly repetitious, it is good music so it never gets that annoying.  The sound in general is also very good, from footsteps to

Review Quotes

"You awake from being knocked out in a dungeon caught by outlanders. Suddenly a blast from one side of the prison wall smashes a hole and gives you means of escape"

 doors opening.  Sometimes sounds like footsteps can be heard even when there is no one around, just to put you on edge.  I find this pretty irritating, but it happens infrequently.  Some of the accents during the movies are a little phony, and some of the voice acting could be better, but over all it's good.  The library of sayings is large enough that you won’t hear the same phrase over and over.

The graphics are amazing.  Sometimes things get a little jaggy (this can be seen in the screenshots), but for the most part is smooth.  The lighting, while amazing, sometimes isn’t logical.  All of the lights point straight down, creating huge shadows around the edges.  Although this isn’t realist, some things you just have to accept.  The work the developers have done with fabric is amazing, and the most lifelike I have seen in any game. 

Final Comments

 This game does it right.  It is an action game, but you must have a lot of restraint.  A lot of times you will just want to shoot a guard, but you realize two other guards will be shooting back at you if you do.  It will test your patience as well as your intelligence.  It has a good plot and gradually lets you know who Sam Fisher is.  I found the game better than Medal Gear Solid 2: Substance, although a lot of people will disagree with my opinion.  It has a few faults, but those are easily made up for in other areas.  Microsoft would be smart to get exclusive rights to the sequel to Splinter Cell.

 

How It Grades

Controls: 90%
Gameplay: 95%
Presentation: 95%
Graphics: 96%
Sound: 93%
Manual: 90%
Interface: 85%
Price/Value: 98%
Overall: 92.75%

Specs & Package

Overall Score

95%

Version Reviewed

Tom Clancy’s: Splinter Cell (NTSC)

Release Date

Out Now

In The Box?

1 Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Disk
1 Set Of Instructions

The Good Points

Great Sound
Great Graphics
Lots of neat gadgets
Excellent Lighting

The Bad Points

Lighting a bit unrealistic
Music repetitive
A bit linear
Can't use enemies ammo

Widescreen Support

 

PAL 60 Support (Europe)

Yes

 


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