reviews\ Dec 7, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell - XB - Review

An enemy scientist has spotted you.  Sirens are blaring, and two heavily-armed guards are on the way.  You have two ways of surviving the situation:

1) Go at them head-on.  Crouch behind any nearby object, and try to kill the enemies before they kill you.

2) Hide behind a wall and wait for the enemies to come near.  As they approach, looking carefully in all directions, stick your arm out from behind the wall and terminate the guards with two precise head-shots.

(Hidden Option): Kill the lights so that your enemies can't see you or anything else.  Turn on your night-vision goggles and knock off the enemies whenever you get tired of watching them search for you in the dark.

That's just one of the many incredible scenarios that Splinter Cell puts you in.  The hidden option I mentioned is one of several ways you have of eliminating your foes.  Thermal goggles make it possible to watch and kill your enemies while hiding behind blinds and other penetrable (but not see-through) barriers.  The blinds keep them from seeing you, but the thermal goggles allow you to see them.  Unarmed or not, virtually every enemy in the game is susceptible to a sneaky rear attack in which Sam Fisher (the main character) grabs the guy from behind, puts his gun to the enemy's head and demands that he talks.  If the foe doesn't appear to have any necessary information, Sam won't bother asking for it.  It's at this point that you once again have a choice to make: drag the enemy hostage around and use him as a shield, knock him out or pull the trigger and create another piece of inventory for the local morgue.

Dead/unconscious bodies can (but don't always have to be) picked up and taken to a less obvious location.  This part of the game is nearly identical to Metal Gear Solid 2, except that guards don't come over and kick their co-workers in the head when they find them unconscious.  Shadows are a good place to hide enemies, but it's better to find a more secluded area, like an empty room.

Splinter Cell features one of the smoothest, most precise, easy-to-use cameras that I have ever experienced in a game.  This is perhaps the game's greatest innovation.  Manual cameras are extremely difficult to add to a game, especially if no one has ever done it before.  Although it wasn't needed in either of the Metal Gear Solid games, Ubi Soft has proven that the more control you have in a game, the more immersive the experience becomes.

When aiming, the game switches to a semi-first-person view.  The left analog stick continues to control your movement, while the right stick changes your aim.  This small addition is one of the most significant improvements, one that you will love and grow to appreciate as soon as you sneak up on a foe and take him down, all in one smooth, seamless move.

My only complaint with this is that Sam moves very slow while aiming.  Splinter Cell is entirely a spy game, which means that it emphasizes sneaking elements over action.  This does not detract from the fun, but the game may feel a tad too slow at first, especially if you're used to playing fast-paced action games.

The intense level of realism is unprecedented.  More patience is necessary to conquer this game than any other spy game I've played.  Still, I never once felt bored, or wished that I could skip through a certain point and rush to the ending.  The entertainment value was increased, not decreased by the immense amount of realism.  Even if I didn't like spy games, I would still appreciate all of the hard work that went into creating this game.  These guys have blown me away in every conceivable way.

Splinter Cell could easily become the Final Fantasy of the spy/mission genre.  A title that developers will look up to; an experience so good that gamers will no longer settle for anything less. 

Splinter Cell's movie-quality graphics are far beyond every other game out there.  It looks better than Resident Evil Zero -- and this game is entirely in real-time!  Not even the highest-end PCs have games that look this good.  Every background, every texture, every shadow and every blinding light is as perfect as polygons can get (at this time).  The animation is impeccable, and the detail is unmatched by any other game.  This is exactly the kind of graphical masterpiece that Microsoft needed to show off the Xbox's true power when it was unveiled in early 2000.  Still pictures are absolutely worthless.  You must play this game and experience the magic for yourself.

If the video game industry was dying, not growing, and people were beginning to lose interest in this form of entertainment, Splinter Cell and Grand Theft Auto 3/Vice City would be the games that save it from extinction.  I swear, if Splinter Cell doesn't sell more than a million copies, it's going to prove that there is something really wrong with the gaming community.  How they could latch on to one masterpiece and overlook'd be the most foolish mistake a gamer could ever make.

Don't even think about not buying this game.  Don't question its purchase.  Don't think about the money, or anything else that comes to mind when deciding whether or not to buy a game.  This is the quintessential Xbox game.  Aside from the fact that it's not Halo 2, Splinter Cell is everything you could have ever wanted for Microsoft's console.  Don't wait till Christmas -- open this masterpiece now.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 9.7
Hands down, this is the best Xbox game of the year, and it is definitely one of the contenders for best overall game of the year.

Graphics: 9.9 
Graphical perfection?  Nearly!  Splinter Cell greatly exceeds the current generation of games.

Sound: 9
The music is jumpy and intense, perfectly suiting Splinter Cell's exciting gameplay.

Difficulty: Medium

Concept: 9 
Much like Halo, Splinter Cell is a Hi-RES game -- it's high in Revolutionary play mechanics and features Extraordinary spy concepts, all of which are executed Spectacularly well.

Overall: 9.7
Ubi Soft must be applauded for its timely release of the game.  Splinter Cell made me feel as though I could do virtually anything spy-related.  I'm sure we all could think of something crazy that can't be done in this game, but that would be ridiculous.  Every practical concept is here.  Lights and computers can be shot, darkening the room/area.  Oblivious enemies (and civilians) can be grabbed from behind.  But instead of snapping their necks (or desperately trying to hold their squirming body in place to use as a shield), Sam puts his gun to their heads and demands the person to talk!  After receiving the information that he needs, Sam can deal with the frightened foe by hitting him on the back of the head with his gun.  Should he decide to permanently silence an unconscious enemy at a later time, he can do so simply by shooting them in the head.

This is a must-own game.  Translation: if you have to starve yourself for a week in order to afford this game, DO IT!  Food is worthless when you could be entertained by a one-of-a-kind masterpiece as spectacular as this.


About The Author
In This Article
From Around The Web
blog comments powered by Disqus