Score: 8.8 / 10
when a new stealth related game comes along steeped in the world of
espionage the plot comes off as the most contrived piece of garbage ever
to grace a television screen/PC monitor.
Beaten over the head by one cliché after the next it’s hard
not to question the gaul of the developers for releasing such a game in
the first place. Thankfully
this isn’t the case with Splinter Cell that actually has a very
engaging story as far as stories go in the land of video games.
With some very well laid out levels, solid gameplay, and nice
functional visuals, PS2 owners are presented with a fantastic title
worthy of a place in their library.
story follows the adventures of NSA
Agent Sam Fisher as he sneaks into Eastern Europe to find out what
happened to a pair of fellow operatives that recently went missing in
the region. As he continues
on his mission players are thrust into a world of political intrigue and
well paced narrative well worth of the Tom Clancy license the game has. The
interaction between the different characters is very well done with
believable dialogue that does a great job of advancing the story.
Better still is how peripheral aspects of the plot are presented
through data sticks found throughout the game, allowing players to read
up on different figures and get a better idea of their demeanor,
motives, and so forth. Really,
the whole way the story is presented is so well done it puts a lot of
the competition to shame. Developers
should take note of the plot in Splinter Cell.
From a presentation standpoint, the PS2 holds its own. The graphics are very crisp, with smooth animation, and quite a bit of detail in the environments. The biggest strength of Splinter Cell’s visuals has to be the lighting, though. Since light sources are a critical element in the success and failure of sneaking through the various environments of the game, a lot of effort has been put into them. Smooth, strong lights can pour down on Fisher casting a very well done shadow that, while pretty, will easily alert wary guards of your position. Some people happily knock the PS2’s visual power for it being the oldest of current generation consoles, but that hasn’t stopped Ubi Soft from making the game very presentable on the system.
Sound-wise Splinter Cell does very well also, not so much for the music peppered through the levels, as effective in adding to the ambience as it is, but for the sound effect cues crucial for navigating the game. While there are obvious cues like a conversation between guards giving players’ a heads up of their location, there’s also plenty of foot falls and such as well that will require players to keep on their toes and not just look for the blindingly obvious alerts to the presence of sentries.
surprising in the game is just how palatable the voice acting is.
Unlike a lot of games on the market, where it seems companies
have hired the least talented actors to ever get spat out of the bottom
of the porn industry (interpret that as you will), Splinter Cell has
very good acting. Sam and
his cohorts sound like they actually have a repoire and could just as
easily be talking sports at a barbeque as discussing tactical options to
find a way into an installation. Kudos
to Ubi Soft for doing such a wonderful job on the voice work in this
course the biggest question is how the game plays.
And the answer is: extremely well.
With so many other so many other stealth oriented games on the
market competing for gamers’ dollars, Splinter Cell does an excellent
job of nailing the genre. Whether
shimmying up poles, pressing flat to the walls, picking locks, or
peeking through doors, there’s a lot of simple gameplay elements that
add a lot of depth to the game. What
is particularly nice is how players must interact with some of the
enemies in the game. Instead
of just trying to sneak passed, or creeping up and killing them, players
may have to get information from them, or “borrow” them for a minute
to get passed a retinal scan. Of
course when you’re done with the lucky individual it’s usually a
good idea to knock them out and hide their body, unless you like the
idea of being found out and having every crooked cop in the former
Eastern Block on your ass. The
guards are actually quite perceptive to what’s going on around them on
both a visual and aural level, so sticking to the shadows to avoid
guards and security cameras, and staying light on your feet while
creeping passed sentries is a must.
all of this done is very easy thanks to the game’s intuitive control
scheme. Everything is very
easy to pull off without second guessing what buttons to hit, or having
to combine buttons in some exceedingly complicated matter, making the
only challenge come in mastering execution, not figuring out what button
stealth games are sneakily saturating the market with the silence of a
band of ninjas, Splinter Cell does a very good job of getting things
right in the genre. Good,
smart gameplay, nice visuals, and a very well done plot make it a title
well worth taking for a spin.
(May 25, 2003)
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