Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow – PS2 – Review

When it comes
to international terrorism and shadowy government operatives ready to put a stop
to their treat, nobody touches on this theme better than Ubi Soft’s Tom Clancy
franchise.  When the original Splinter Cell was released, it practically
changed the way we saw the stealth-action genre (we love you Solid Snake but Sam
Fisher is our guy).  Of course, having been released as a Xbox game, this left
the PS2 crowd wishing the game would someday be ported to their console.  Well,
the good people at Ubi didn’t let us down.  With Splinter Cell: Pandora
, an indirect sequel of sorts, the Xbox crowd once again gets the
prize but us PS2 folk aren’t left out and with an online multiplayer mode that’s
just too awesome for words all I can say is that it was worth the wait. 


Once again
you step into the role of U.S. covert operative Sam Fisher as he called in to
take control of a siege in the United States Embassy in East Timor.  It seems
that the terrorist group responsible for holding Embassy hostages is lead by a
dangerous militia guerilla by the name of Suhadi Sadono.  It seems that Sadono
resents the United States presence in Indonesia and so, in true terrorist
fashion, his threats involve a secret plot involving something that’s codenamed
Pandora Tomorrow.  Being the only man capable of bringing Sadono and his crew
down, Sam Fisher goes on a one-man mission.


So how well
does Pandora Tomorrow on the PS2 stack up against the Xbox version?  The
game still follows the same mission structure as the Xbox version . . . but with
some slight alterations.  Certain missions have branching paths that differ
greatly.  If you played the Xbox version you’ll notice there are areas in
certain missions that didn’t have guards there or an alternate path that would
inevitably lead you to your objective.  The game also offers post-mission
statistics complete with a score and list things used to complete the mission
(e.g. how many enemies you knocked out, killed or how many bullets you used). 
But the nicest gift PS2 owners get is a new jungle mission (and it’s a really
good mission to boot).


For a game
that’s not quite a sequel, Pandora Tomorrow has plenty of levels and the
missions are quite lengthy.  They’re also really intense – nail-biting intense. 
One mission has you jumping onto a moving train as it zooms on to its
destination.  Once on board, you have to sneak into an informant’s room.  This
isn’t a walk in the park since the bad guys respond to everything and react much
faster than the first game.  Stealth fans will feel challenged though.


Still, you
can’t help but feel that this game was made with the Xbox in mind and part of it
has to do with the way checkpoints are distributed throughout the mission as
well as the load times.  Checkpoints take a really long time to load (even with
the HDD installed) and the bad part about this is that it takes away from the
flow of the game.  Thanks to the game’s difficulty, the trail-and-error gameplay
might not feel as bad on the Xbox but on the PS2 they’re really frustrating.  At
least the controls feel right at home and Sam Fisher’s new moves (the
upside-down shooting move is brilliant!) and gadgets (instant booby trap) can be
used fast and easy.


One of the
things that makes Pandora Tomorrow a Must-Have is the online multiplayer
mode that is downright addictive.  Played over a Broadband connection, four
players in total play a unique game of cat-and-mouse over a series of maps
containing specific goals (the game has three game modes: Extraction,
Neutralizing Mode and Sabotage).  Players team up in pairs, pitting each another
in a mission as either spies (Shadownet operatives) or well-armed mercenaries
(ARGUS Corporation bad boys).  The best part about this is that the spies are
played in third-person mode while the mercenaries are played in first-person
shooter mode (similar to that of Rainbow Six 3).  Each group carries a
nice assortment of gadgets and weapons and this keeps the action interesting and
fun.  Thanks to the fast internet connection, the game flows smoothly and the
use of the USB headsets makes teamwork a dream come true.  As far as multiplayer
games go, this is a treat for PS2 gamers craving a great online experience.


Rarely does a
game take advantage of the PS2’s graphical capabilities and that’s too bad
because the system is capable of showcasing some really stunning visuals.  Much
like the original Splinter Cell, Pandora Tomorrow is a visual
treat and seeing how close it comes to mimicking Xbox quality graphics brings
tears of joy to my eyes.  We’re talking detailed characters and truly amazing
lighting effects.  We’re talking environments that sparkle with life.  There are
a few clipping issues and sometimes characters seem to be sitting on thin air
instead of on the seat but these are minor blemishes on an overall beautiful


Adding to the
gorgeous visuals is the sound and we’re not just talking about a great dramatic
score.  The game places heavy emphasis on sound so Sam Fisher just can’t run
across a ground filled with broken glass without alerting nearby enemies. 
Fisher himself can lure bad guys to him by whistling or shooting the wall. 
There environments are alive with sound and they won’t fail to amaze.  As far as
the voice acting is concerned, they’re really good . . . especially Michael
Ironside who once again voices Fisher.


on the PS2 might not be as
perfect as the Xbox version but it comes really close . . . close enough that it
will impress gamers that didn’t think the PS2 was capable of bringing a game
like this to life.  Okay, so there might be some imperfections that are hard to
ignore but they hardly come close to keeping you from enjoying this amazing
title.  And with an online mode that’s just brilliant, you can’t go wrong.  This
one should be in any gamers’ library.


Scoring Details


The trail-and-error gameplay might
turn off gamers playing this one for the first time, but the stealth action and
the use of various spy gadgets make this an amazing experience.  The missions
have Sam Fisher really working overtime but it reminds us why this is the best
game in its genre.


Breathtaking visuals on the PS2
aren’t as common as they should be but Pandora Tomorrow is able to push
the system’s graphics to the maximum.  We’re talking great lighting effects and
amazingly detailed characters.  There’s some clipping but it pales in comparison
to the overall beauty.


Sound: 9.2
Beautiful directional sound really
immerses you in the environments.  Sound plays a huge role in this game and its
great to hear how detailed the sound is here.  The game also has a tense score
and great voice acting.


Difficulty: Hard
Pandora Tomorrow
is hard . . . very hard.  It’s yank your
hair-out-of-your-head hard.  Darn those responsive and intelligent enemies.


You have to love Ubi Soft.  Sure
they released the game first on the Xbox but that’s Ok because they really know
how to make it up to PS2 owners.  Like Sam Fisher’s first outing on the PS2, a
new level was added and this extra mission (set in the jungle) is great.  Plus
there are the cool gadgets that are ever cooler this time around.


Multiplayer: 9.5
PlayStation2 gamers no longer will
feel left out of a really brilliant online multiplayer mode.  We’re talking four
player spies versus mercenary action in both third- and first-person view. 
Question: Why can’t I stop playing this?  Answer: Because it’s really that


A few flaws aside, Pandora
on the PS2 is pure stealth-action bliss and if you liked the
original Splinter Cell you’ll love this one.  It’s beautiful visuals will
blow you away and its online multiplayer alone is worth the price of
admission.   Really, stealth action just doesn’t get any better than this.