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Action / Stealth









T (Teen)



June 28, 2005


- Manage to pack in all of Sam Fisher’s trademark moves

- Maintains the spirit of the original



- Horrible sluggish controls and framerate problems galore create a hugely frustrating experience

- Low production values



Review: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (NGage)

Review: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (PS2)



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Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Score: 4.2 / 10


Back in March 2005, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory arrived on the Big Three consoles and PC (and on N-Gage).  Three months later it arrives on the DS, more or less keeping in the spirit of the other versions.  But instead of fun and heart-pounding stealth action, Chaos Theory is a big ol’ mess of stuttering framerates and inexact, sluggish controls, which not only form an obstacle to enjoyment they make playing Chaos Theory a chore.


splinter cell chaos theory ds review          splinter cell chaos theory ds review


The general storyline hasn’t been changed – it still revolves around one of life’s most terrifying subjects: math – and it again features super-stealthy NSA agent Sam Fisher plugging bad guys, rappelling down buildings, shooting out security cameras, and performing painful-looking acrobatic moves as he attempts solve algorithmic quadratic equations.  Okay, so really he’s actually plodding his way through a techo-thriller which may or may not plunge the world into chaos.  The general plot points are played out between missions in lightly animated cutscenes and in-mission exchanges between Sam and his support crew.  It’s not gripping stuff but it’s enough to move the “action” forward.


“Action” is a word I use loosely.  The Splinter Cell games have always eschewed straight run and gun action to stealth and working through levels slowly, but Chaos Theory makes even the stealth “action” a major pain.  Right from the opening menus, control response is sluggish at best, with a split second lag between pressing a button and an on-screen response.


It doesn’t get any better during the game, particularly when Sam activates his thermal or night vision goggles, because when the slow controls are coupled with a stuttering framerate the situation becomes almost unbearable.  Plus, it affects everything in the game, in either single-player or multiplayer.  It makes setting up ambushes extremely trying and aiming Sam’s gun a real challenge.  This adds up to many replays of some extremely frustrating missions.


All of Sam’s moves are presented and accounted for, including the SWAT turn, and once the initial learning curve is accounted for (especially the laggy control) the controls are pretty good.  Of note, the camera and Sam’s aim can be controlled with the stylus on the touch screen.  This feels close to a PC’s mouse control, however, there are some complications that arise.  For instance, Sam’s aim can be 




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adjusted with the stylus but you need to press the B-button to shoot.  This means the gamer has to line up the shot well in advance because quickly aiming and firing is extremely tough if not impossible.


The touchscreen isn’t put to a great use, but it is nice having a large radar screen to look at.  For lock-picking, the gamer must tap the lock mechanism with the stylus but it doesn’t feel very cool, which is what lock-picking is all about.


Presentation doesn’t lend much to the overall package of Chaos Theory.  Not much more whiz-bang than the N-Gage version, the graphics are pretty muddy and the audio is thin on the ground with an oft repeating soundtrack that quickly becomes tiring.  (However, if Sam activates his night or thermal vision the soundtrack cuts out.)  It’s probably not my place to say this because I’ve never developed a game, but maybe Gameloft should have started from the ground-up on Chaos Theory, possibly taking a more “cartoony” take on the franchise.  I look at a 3D game like Super Mario 64 DS and see the possibilities.  Why not rebuild Splinter Cell to suit the platform?


Any way you slice it, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is a poor game and you’d have to be Sam Fisher’s number one fan to grab this rendition of the franchise.


- D.D. Nunavut

(August 10, 2005)


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