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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action / Stealth

 

Publisher

Ubisoft

 

Developer

Ubisoft

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

 

- Probably the best use of light and shadow you’ve ever seen in a game
- Great tension and arsenal of moves and equipment
- Control actually makes sense
- Promise of downloadable content with Xbox Live
- Solid AI

 

 

- Some pretty strict mission requirements and eerily human enemy AI can cause a great deal of frustration

 

 

Review: Metal Gear Solid 2 - Sons of Liberty (Playstation 2)

Review: Splinter Cell Conviction (360)

Review: Assassin's Creed 2 (360)

 

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Splinter Cell

Score: 9.5 / 10

 

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Sam Fisher will undoubtedly go down as one of gaming’s great characters, joining the likes of Lara Croft, Mario, Gabriel Knight, Solid Snake, and Sonic the Hedgehog – the kind of character that geeks among us will talk about long after Splinter Cell (SC) and its inevitable sequels (or prequels) have been swallowed by time.

Sam Fisher: family man and part of a super secret organization of the National Security Agency, Third Echelon. Fisher is an older character, probably in his late 40’s, called into action after two CIA operatives go missing in Eastern Europe. As usual things spiral out of control – with thanks to an evil Canadian computer hacker (A Canadian villain? Yay!) – and Sam is front and center, jetting all over the globe trying to avert some pretty major problems.

Fisher is no rookie. He’s been a splinter cell long enough to realize the value of protecting America at any cost using his 5th Freedom – using whatever is required

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to achieve his objectives. As such, he has a lot of moves no wet-behind-the-ears recruit could dream of.

Foremost is Fisher’s ability to split jump, which is excruciating to watch but fun to perform. This is a move so effective that getting the drop on an enemy is almost unfairly balanced in Fisher’s favor. The same can be said of Fisher’s available inventory which includes

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such necessary items as the sweet SC-20K MAWS, sticky cameras, one-use lock picks, gas grenades, laser microphone, and the ever-important 2-in-1 night and thermal vision goggles.

For some missions the goggles become your best tool for avoiding detection while being able to scout an area. Turn off the light in a room (or better, shoot them out) and switch to night vision. Then watch enemies enter and attempt to turn on the lights. It’s already too late for the enemy – Fisher has him in a sleeper hold. He drags him further into the room then gives him a solid knock to the head. (It’s enough to make one afraid of the dark again.)

This is what SC is all about – becoming a shadow, blending into darks corners, and avoiding light as you carry out your assignments with lethal (or non-lethal) methods. If you want straight action like Serious Sam, Max Payne, BloodRayne or TimeSplitters 2, you’ll only be disappointed with SC where stealth is rewarded and run and gun tactics will meet with mission failure. Often Fisher will have to bide his time, waiting for just the right moment to slip past a camera and crack someone into unconsciousness. But expect to see the familiar “mission failed” screen because death can be found at every turn and some missions are insanely difficult.

 

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This is in part why I can’t give SC a perfect score (even though I’d highly recommend it to anyone). Everything about SC’s presentation, – you’ve never seen a more perfect blend of light and shadow than this – control, and story is great but the sheer frustration arising in some missions was enough to make me want to forget about SC. The checkpoint saves are logically placed but ducking through the shadows and avoiding detection to reach them can be extremely difficult. I had to play some sections dozens of times before I met with success.

This can be attributed to two factors: the entirely too human AI and the strict mission objectives.

For example, Fisher has to infiltrate a CIA building unarmed (although he eventually does get a gun). This means any lights without a visible switch can’t be shot out. Any areas that could be made safe ambush areas and hiding places, can’t – creating one mother of a tough mission. That being said, a certain amount of suspense is involved. There were times I realized I was holding my breath as I tried to avoid detection. Still, all the suspense in the world can’t make the frustration go away after the 30th attempt at a mission.

Splinter Cell oozes cool and sophistication from it’s lead character through it’s many and varied levels, and very slick control scheme. Basically, Splinter Cell is a great game (even with the difficulty level) and one worth playing through many times over – and with promised downloadable content via Xbox Live you could be playing this one for a long time.

- Omni
(February 8, 2003)

 

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