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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Action / Stealth

 

Publisher

Ubi Soft

 

Developer

Ubi Soft

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q2 2003

 

 

- Michael Ironside as the voice of Sam Fisher: perfect choice!

- Engrossing storyline

- Best game of the last year (yeah, even better than Grand Theft Auto: Vice City)

 

 

- Graphics or controls arenít as good as other versions

- Need the Game Boy Advance to unlock extra features and items

- You'll be overcome with depressing feelings once you complete the game knowing you have to wait awhile for another Sam Fisher Splinter Cell adventure

 

 

Review: Splinter Cell (XB)

Review: Splinter Cell (PC)

 

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Splinter Cell

Score: 9.3 / 10

 

Tom Clancy became a renowned espionage-and-war novelist because of his meticulous attention to the most minute of technological details and descriptions of weaponry and warfare modus operandi in his books. Those same attributes have been infused in the many games that carry his name: the Rainbow Six series, Ghost Recon, and the best game of the last year, Splinter Cell, which after debuting on the Xbox and PC, made its way to the PS2 and now the GameCube. Unfortunately, while the same detailed espionage intricacies and incredibly tightly-woven storyline found in the earlier versions is still here along with a few GameCube-exclusive gimmicks, Splinter Cellís GameCube mission is lacking the PC and Xboxís graphical touches and has weaker controls due to the somewhat clumsiness of the setup on the GameCube controller. But it's still a great game.

 

splinter cell gamecube review          splinter cell gamecube review

 

Ubi Softís answer to Konamiís Solid Snake third-person stealth-action games is the amazing Splinter Cell. The plot is straight from the mind of Clancy himself: you take on the guise of Sam Fisher, an agent of the National Security Agency of the U.S. government. Fisher is a Splinter Cell, a member of the Third Echelon, the top-secret intelligence-gathering arm of the NSA. As a Splinter Cell, Fisher is given clearance to kill if necessary in his spying/espionage/protecting the American way duties, but that comes with a caveat. If you are captured, the U.S. government will not acknowledge your existence. In short, youíre on your own.

 

With that background, Clancyís story pits Fisher in the volatile former Soviet Republic of Georgia, searching for missing CIA operatives, filled with plenty of mystery shrouding how Samís adventures will eventually end. Oh, and in your searching, you must employ due diligence in keeping unseen and therefore untraceable. The Clancy touches in the well-written story filled with a cast of strongly developed characters (a rarity in the world of hokey video game plots) are completely evident, and after seeing Mortal Kombat, Tomb Raider, Street Fighter, Mario Bros., Double Dragon, and Final Fantasy make generally laughable silver-screen appearances, Splinter Cell is the one video game that would be completely believable as a movie. The only negative to Splinter Cellís stellar story is that it doesnít allow for non-linear gameplay. You must follow only one path to reach the next save point (although there are some hidden areas throughout the game that usually have additional ammo and supplies lying around.) Still, despite not having any leeway for where Sam will wind up next, the great story makes this completely forgivable.

 

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Possessing a great tale to start with, Splinter Cell goes one better by making use of some nifty graphics. Included in the beautifully rendered visual presentation are some sensational lighting effects that are now the benchmark of excellence in the use of lighting and interactive shadowing in video games. Wherever thereís even a sliver of light engulfing any part of Fisher or his surroundings in the usually dark and shadowy environments he must lurk in, the soft and realistic glow that the light casts is easily the best youíve ever seen.

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Even better is the great movement animations of Fisher. No matter if Sam is creeping along in the shadows sneaking up on somebody unsuspecting of his presence or climbing atop cargo storage units in a warehouse, Splinter Cell has incredible true-to-life movement for its lead character. This has become a trademark of Clancy-endorsed projects. Thereís a vast array of great moves for Fisher that are intuitively put into action, depending on the circumstances. For instance, if you want to drop down hidden from above to say a quick ďgoodnightĒ to an unaware target, the game intuitively pulls off a drop attack if you place Fisher in the right spot. Heíll drop down and smash the target with an overhead two-handed clobbering.

 

The most hard-to-believe move is the underutilized split jump, which Sam can use in tight quarters by performing a Jackie Chan-style full leg-split above a entranceway that will allow him to either remain hidden or again get offensive with a drop attack. The only movement that did not have a true sense of realism is when Sam has knocked out or killed somebody and is attempting to hide the body. While carrying the body over his shoulders and goings down stairwells, Fisher has a poltergeistian animation that makes it obvious he isnít climbing down stairs, but rather floating on an invisible track. Itís the only movement that doesnít come across as natural in the game. But besides that, whatever you want Fisher to do move-wise in his stealthy missions, he can do.

 

And stealth does play a huge role in Splinter Cell. Because of the highly secretive nature of your missions, you must always engage stealth as your first priority. Itís better to get an objective met without being seen than to meet that objective by creating a big pile of dead bodies behind sure to raise-suspicions. Hiding in the darkness is the easiest way to avoid being seen, and the game has a visibility meter to let you know if you can or canít be seen, depending where Sam is at any time during the game. A useful measure to avoid being caught is by either turning off light switches or shooting out overhead lights. That gameplay requirement is put to the ultimate test in the CIA building mission, where Fisher canít even kill one person, even if he is discovered, because the people he will encounter there are employees of the same government that Fisher works for. Also having a limited supply of bullets for your weapons makes you use more stealth and less live fire to accomplish your Splinter Cell goals.

 

Completing Splinter Cellís trifecta of quality that first shows up in the storyline and is closely followed by the visuals is the great audio presentation that includes believable voice acting, especially Sam Fisher as interpreted by Michael Ironside, the gruff and tough actor who has been a favorite of mine since his acting in the old Ď80ís sci-fi TV series ďV.Ē Ironsideís Fisher is one tough hombre, a big requirement for the Splinter Cell line of work. Just as spectacular is the gameís sound effects, which are so good, itís hard to believe youíre playing a game instead of watching a movie. Youíll hear the sound of thunderstorms, birds chirping, and perhaps the best effects, Samís interaction with his environs. If there is broken glass on the floor Fisher is walking on, you can hear it being pulverized under his footsteps. If he is traveling through ventilation ducts, walking too quickly or heavily will produce a creaking in certain sections of the ducts. Running instead of creeping across floors can cause Sam to be discovered by nearby individuals. Itís just a great job utilizing terrific sound effects throughout Splinter Cell by the developers.

 

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Artificial intelligence of the interacting characters in Splinter Cell is for the most part extremely challenging to figure out how to efficiently get Sam to complete his missions without being detected. For most of the game, the enemy A.I. is really intelligent, but Splinter Cellís A.I. can falter at rare times. At times where you may have been obviously detected, so much so that Sam may indeed be shot at, if you can scramble away fast enough you can usually hide long enough for the above-mentioned shooter to give up looking, even though in a real-life situation Fisher would be hotly-pursued until either he was caught or he takes out his pursuer. Overall, Splinter Cell is a very difficult game to beat.

 

Control in the GameCubeís version slips up a bit though. While moving around with the GameCube controller isnít too hard or unresponsive compared with all the other versions of the game, the binocular function (not found in the Xbox version), used with the C-stick on the controller, is entirely and awfully frustrating. If you get accidentally get caught in the binocular mode, its can be real hard to simply get out of binocular mode, and if you are in any kind of dangerous situation at the time, this can lead to detection, causing Sam all kinds of problems.

 

There are a few GameCube exclusives in Splinter Cell, like new weaponry and five additional levels, but they require the gimmicky Game Boy Advance connectivity to unlock, which doesnít exactly make the GameCube any more distinguishable from other versions if you donít own a GBA and a GBA cable.

 

Despite not entirely measuring up in either the graphical or control departments to the Xbox, PC, or PS2 versions, Splinter Cell on the GameCube still has the signature Tom Clancy engrossing storyline and enjoyable espionage gaming to make it the best multi-platform game of the last year, and that includes Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. This is one awesome GameCube title. Splinter Cell is a no-brainer next to Metroid Prime and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker to add to your ĎCube library.

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(May 24, 2003)

 

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