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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Ubi Soft

 

Developer

Ubi Soft

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q1 2003

 

 

- Great story

- Intuitive controls

- Good sound effects

- Great voice acting

- Nice visuals

- Very smart enemies

 

 

- The highly intelligent enemies may be frustrating for some

 

 

Review: Splinter Cell (Xbox)

Review: Splinter Cell (PC)

Review: Splinter Cell (Gamecube)

 

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Splinter Cell

Score: 8.8 / 10

Sometimes 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.  

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The 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.

 

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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.  

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Very 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 game.  

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Of 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.

Getting 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 does what.

While 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.

- Mr. Nash

(May 25, 2003)

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