reviews\ Apr 15, 2004 at 8:00 pm

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow - PC - Review

When Splinter Cell first hit PCs about this time last year, it dazzled gamers with some of the most realistic stealth action ever in a game.  Now the sequel, Pandora Tomorrow, is hitting PCs with the same brand of espionage and action, albeit a few new tweaks in the formula.  However, the biggest addition to the Splinter Cell series is the excellent multiplayer gameplay, which takes stealth to a whole new level.  Even without the multiplayer aspect, Pandora Tomorrow is a worthy successor to the first Splinter Cell, and deserving of your money if you are a stealth-action fan.


As in the first Splinter Cell, Pandora Tomorrow puts you in control of NSA agent Sam Fisher.  You are sent in on a mission to destroy sensitive information after the US Embassy in Jakarta is seized by a group of guerrilla militants. This is the first of several missions that will have Sam trying to eliminate the threat of the anti-US militia faction led by Sudahi Sadono, the ruthless head of the group.


The core gameplay of Pandora Tomorrow hasn’t changed very much from the first game, which is not at all a bad thing.  The high level of realism has been nicely retained, and with improved AI and a few new moves like the half split jump and the SWAT turn, the gameplay is even more immersing and authentic.  The AI will adapt and increase their aggressiveness as more alarms are accumulated, which is a nice touch.


The first Splinter Cell provided a bevy of authentic weapons and spy-gadgets, and Pandora Tomorrow keeps with that nicely.  Items like the Sticky Shocker, Distraction Camera and Optic Cables have returned and are at your disposal should the necessity for their use arise.  The SC-20K assault rifle is also there for your use, with both automatic firing capabilities and a multipurpose launcher.


As great as the single-player game is, the multiplayer aspect is what truly drives the game.  Pandora Tomorrow’s multiplayer elements provide a truly unprecedented form of online action.  You begin by selecting from one of two different sides, the spies and the mercenaries.  As a spy, you must perform your task in utmost stealth, be it neutralizing a virus, stealing an item or sabotaging something.  As a mercenary you must find all of the spies in a stage and eliminate them.  This type of stealth cat-and-mouse gameplay is one that hasn’t really been explored in an online form, but Pandora Tomorrow does a fantastic job of making the experience unique and compelling.


The original Splinter Cell offered up great graphics and lighting effects, and Pandora Tomorrow keeps with that tradition.  The game has fantastic lighting effects and improved character models, and the animations are smooth and realistic.


The sound effects are also fantastic.  The music is subtle and ambient during sneaking parts, and melds into fast-paced techno music if the guards are alerted to your presence.  The voice acting is great, with Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers, Total Recall) returning as Sam Fisher and Dennis Haysbert (24) taking on the role of Colonel Irving Lambert.  The sound effects are also crisp and accurate, and considering how a great deal of your stealthiness depends on the sound you make, this is extremely important.


Pandora Tomorrow continues the legacy of the original Splinter Cell very nicely and even ups the ante with some unique and engaging multiplayer elements.  Any fan of the original (or anyone who would love some great multiplayer spy action) shouldn’t miss it.


Gameplay: 9.5
The original Splinter Cell set the bar for realistic espionage action, and Pandora Tomorrow raises it.  The AI has been improved from the original game and the level of realism has been nicely retained from the original.  While the single-player game seems to follow the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra, the multiplayer element breaks new ground and offers an exciting blend of stealth and cat-and-mouse.


Graphics: 9.5
Pandora Tomorrow offers up some fantastic graphics, thanks to great lighting effects and improved character models.


Sound: 9.5
The sound effects are crisp and clear, something that is important in an espionage game.  The music is appropriately dynamic, like something you’d find in a movie.  The voice acting is professionally done, with Michael Ironside and Dennis Haysbert taking on the roles of Sam Fisher and Irving Lambert, respectively.


Difficulty: Medium


Concept: 9.8
Pandora Tomorrow takes a great game and pushes it even further with some excellent multiplayer features.


Multiplayer: 9.8

Pandora Tomorrow’s multiplayer formula has gamers pitted in a cat-and-mouse game of espionage and elimination.  All in all, this is one of the most compelling online action games since Counter-Strike.


Overall: 9.7

Pandora Tomorrow offers up the same kind of single-player spy action as the first game, but really raises the bar by offering some fantastic multiplayer elements.  Be you a solo gamer or an online fiend, you will love Pandora Tomorrow.


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