reviews\ Apr 12, 2005 at 8:00 pm

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory - PC - Review

The year is 2007. Japan's creation of an Information Self Defense Force is deemed a violation of international law and of their own Constitution, and ignites rising tensions between Japan, China and North Korea. Facing North Korean and Chinese blockades of shipping across the Korea Strait, Japan requests US assistance in accordance with American obligations under Article 9 of the Japanese Post War Constitution.

Mounting evidence gathered by the I-SDF indicates that the devastation of the Japanese economy on the now infamous ‘Black Gold Day’ may have been caused by intentional information warfare attacks.

As nations begin to mobilize and the United States activates the USS Clarence E Walsh, the world’s premiere Electronic and Information Warfare platform and dispatches her to the region, Third Echelon gets wind of a small and seemingly unrelated incident that may end up having global repercussions.

Enter Sam Fisher, the NSA's most elite black-ops agent. In about 11 different locales, you must infiltrate deep into hostile territory and aggressively collect critical intelligence, hack terminals, pick locks, disable cameras, shutdown systems, all the while being closer than ever to enemy soldiers. To achieve your mission you will operate undetected, kill at close-range, attack with your combat knife, drop on your enemy from above, or hang from a pipe and snap a bad guy's neck. You will also have a modular SC20K rifle, which can be equipped in many configurations allowing you to unleash several modes of death in one complete weapon. Also, there will be the sticky cameras and shockers, gas grenades, your trusty pistol and the signature EEV goggles that have made Sam Fisher famous. I may have missed a weapon or two, but you get the idea.

The most noticeable change to the franchise that most fans may notice is that the environments and maps are much bigger. Though the game may feel a bit linear, you can complete missions the way you see fit. In games past, you were basically screwed if you were just not stealthy enough and guards just hit the panic button sounding every alarm. Now guards are a bit more intrigued from things that go bump and are not so quick to jump the gun. Sure they will check out a noise, but this gives Sam chances to create diversions and sneak on past. Gamers who shelved the previous games because there just was not a heck of a lot of gunning, will be pleased that you can now play a bit more run and gun. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t exactly do that the WHOLE game, or maybe you can, but needless to say the game plays best with a combination of both. The acrobatic moves are load of fun. Scaling walls, sliding down pipes, rolling from shadow to shadow, putting guys in headlocks, and of course a quick slash with a knife always dispatches an unconcerned guard quite quickly. Basically try and sneak around, when all else fails, open up a can of whoop ass on them with your handy-dandy SC20k.

There are a few different multiplayer games available and can be both played on a LAN and the Internet.

The versus mode of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is based on two opposing teams of two human players, four players in all. The Shadownet spies must move forward without being spotted, analyze their environment, and fulfill the conditions for victory. The ARGUS PMC's mercenaries must prevent the Shadownet spies from making progress by tracking them down, finding them, and eliminating them. There are three versus games. Story Mode has players taking part in a small adventure within each game level. Disc Hunt Mode is based on the pursuit of data discs in the game levels - a bit like capture the flag. Last but not least, senseless violence in Deathmatch Mode. This is based on eliminating the other team.

Co-op mode is much like the solo game, only now there are two of you fighting to complete the same mission. Co-op mode brings a whole new element to team play. There are special moves in co-op like short scale boost, human ladder, dual rappelling, standing on teammates shoulders, and the list goes on. These cool moves encourage cooperative play and when executed correctly are a blast. I found the co-op play to be best on a LAN because of the ease of communication. Not that it can’t be played online, just my opinion it’s a bit easier.

Visually the game is quite stunning. The environments are nicely rendered and the characters look and react realistically. The lighting effects are top-notch throwing shadows all over the place for Sam to hide in. You can even see around corners by watching the shadows of the enemy. Audibly the game is incredible. 5.1 Dolby digital. Need I say more? When stealth is the name of the game, you can find yourself actually listening to every detail. Rain drops, footsteps, voices, et cetera. The music is pretty decent and the voice-overs are outstanding. Would you expect anything less when Michael Ironsides is the voice of Sam Fisher? I don’t think so.

Overall I believe that any fan of the series will love this game. For those of you who may have shied away because of the cloak-and-dagger feel, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that there is plenty of shooting to be found here.

Review Scoring Details for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory

Gameplay: 9.0
The game played great and I really enjoyed how the cutscenes brought everything together. This is not your typical shooter. You really have to sneak around to avoid detection to progress through the game. This was very realistic and really made you feel like you were indeed a Special Ops character.

Graphics: 9.0
Nicely done! The environments and the character modeling were very believable. The lighting effects really had me hiding in shadows to avoid detection. Visually the game was very intense.

Sound: 9.2
Awesome sound effects and great voices. Stealth is the name of the game, and games like this you can hear just about every little detail. It is amazing how much more sound comes into play when you are deliberately trying to be quiet. I swear I could hear a pin drop.

Difficulty: Hard
Gamers are going to find this title a bit more challenging than most. Silence is key, and though you have plenty of guns at your disposal, they are almost certainly a last resort. Having to watch everything you do, being careful not to leave too many bodies around adds a cloak-and-dagger element that most games forget.

Concept: 8.0
We have seen games like this before, but the Splinter Cell franchise still leads the pack. This could be classified as a shooter style of play, but keep in mind it could easily be viewed as a spy game. In addition, there are puzzles to be solved and many ways to complete missions. Play action or stealth, but a combination of both works nicely.

Multiplayer: 8.0
You can team up and play games in co-op mode. You can also match wits in versus mode. Grabbing a game online is quite easy and you can also play on a LAN.

Overall: 9.1
Great game and with it being as challenging as it is, I can’t see this title becoming shelf material anytime soon.


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