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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Ubisoft

 

Developer

Ubisoft

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

March 2004

 

 

- The definition of ďstealth actionĒ
- Most impressive lighting and shadowing effects in all of gaming
- Dolby Digital sound
- Addicting Xbox Live capabilities
- Cinematic feel and execution

 

 

- Online bugs and glitches (almost all are fixed)
- Single-player is quite shorter than expected
- Some AI exacting will frustrate and anger impatient gamers

 

 

Review: Splinter Cell (XB)

Review: Splinter Cell (PC)

Review: Metal Gear Solid 2 - Substance (PS2)

Review: Mission Impossible - Operation Surma (XB)

 

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Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow

Score: 9.6 / 10

 

splinter cell pandora tomorrow xbox review          splinter cell pandora tomorrow xbox review

 

Iíll be honest. Iím not a big fan of the dark. In fact, I try to leave a crack through my blinds at night so a shred of light can get in, just so I don't wet the sheets in case of any strange noises. Because of this Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow brought me back to the world of darkness I dread.

You see, the game relies on shadows for safety and staying in the light results in vulnerability. This conundrum was a hard obstacle to digest although I can say now, after playing Pandora Tomorrow, it was well worth wetting every sheet.

The year is 2006, two years after the events in the original Splinter Cell, and the U.S. installs a military base in East Timor to train forces for the fledgling democracy. Resistance soon follows and after a terrorist attack lead by Suhadi Sadono, a guerrilla militia leader, Sam Fisher is sent in. His job is to respond to

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these attacks without anyone, except the NSA, knowing.

Pandora Tomorrow's storyline is altogether a lot better than its predecessor for a couple of reasons. First: the story is easier to follow with informative cutscenes and detailed cinematics. The other reason is the technique of tying-in current world issues with the game. The guerrilla attacks and such seem parallel

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the events in Haiti. Even though this storyline was planned out well before those events, itís nice to see some connection with our world and the Splinter Cell world.

Pandora Tomorrow puts the same stealth equation from the original to work with only a few new gameplay features and graphical enhancements. As far as Sam Fishers agility and personal development, you wonít notice many new moves beyond the modified split jump and SWAT turn.

In terms of gadgets and items there are plenty of new toys for Sam to play with. The addition of new grenades, laser aiming, and other tweaks, such as the inclusion of binoculars, makes scoping out situations a lot easier than before. Still remaining are the stealth tactics. Some missions may authorize you to kill anyone you come in contact with while others might restrict any casualties. When the latter is the case it makes it a requirement to use your other gadgets to get through the level. The use of airfoil rounds, sticky cameras, and gas grenades become priority.

The single-player campaign has mostly been overshadowed by Pandora Tomorrow's excellent multiplayer, although not much has changed since the first game. The level design and atmosphere feel the same as well as the AI is still a bit shaky. The original's AI wasn't the smartest but it still gave many gamers a hard challenge. Pandora Tomorrow's AI has been tightened up to extreme lengths. Everybody that you neutralize must be hidden and every sound you make will be heard. Even some of the earlier missions will frustrate new gamers to the series because of the strict AI and unforgiving reactions. My only advice for novice Splinter Cell fans is to walk through every area slowly and with both eyes open.

 

splinter cell pandora tomorrow xbox review        splinter cell pandora tomorrow xbox review


Pandora Tomorrow's graphics are awesome -- once you play through Pandora Tomorrow the first game looks like a cartoon in comparison. Not to say that those graphics were bad, it's just that the graphics now are much better. The lighting and shadowing effects have been refined. In addition, the detail on the whole has been revamped. Rust on cars can be seen, cigarettes will stay lit and smoking in real-time, and character faces can be identified easily.

Most games don't overdo every single aspect in every single department but then again: this is Ubi Soft we're talking about. Pandora Tomorrow is the first console video game to feature Dolby 7.1 surround sound. In other words make sure you play this game in broad daylight or you might stain you khakis (much like I do... all the time). Every step, every "WHACK! Thud," and every moth are heard in ways never before heard. Those of us who canít afford such amenities as a Dolby 7.1 system shouldnít feel left out though. The stellar voice acting from Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers, Total Recall) and Dennis Haysbert (Major League, 24) bring to life the cinematic appeal of Pandora Tomorrow.

The most impressive feature this time around isn't Pandora Tomorrow's lighting and shading effects or itís near perfect gameplay. Itís the playability over Xbox Live. Rather than keeping the traditional online style of two teams going at it with the same weapons and equipment, Ubi Soft changed everything Ė right down to the perspectives of both sides. One team, the Spies, play in the 3rd person perspective while the other, Argus Mercenaries, play in the 1st person perspective. The Spies have more visibility on their part (like the first-player section offers) and are altogether more agile, athletic, and masters of hand-to-hand combat. The Mercenaries are powerfully armed, although with less range of sight, and capable of setting numerous traps and mines in order to capture or kill a Spy. The Mercenaries are always given the same objectives and singular role: find the spies and kill them. The Spies, on the other hand, have a lot more barriers to get through in order to reach each objective. Games are played in one of three different modes: Sabotage (Place a modem near the objective and sit next to it until the countdown is finished), Extraction (Take a ND133 tube to an extraction point without getting caught or killed), and finally Neutralization (Neutralize the ND133 canisters within the time given). All of these modes are a lot of fun online and create one of the best "cat and mouse" settings I've ever encountered and is possibly the best example of the Live service in terms of showing its potential.

Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow is not an ordinary game. Sure it's released early in the year and some bugs and glitches have been sighted in the multiplayer, but this might be a Game of the Year candidate come December. The near perfect sound, graphics, and gameplay are more than enough to keep you latched on to this title for a long time. And with multiple ways of beating certain missions, it wouldnít hurt to go back and play the whole thing all over again (for it isn't that long to begin with).

- Eric Lahiji
(April 9, 2004)

 

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