Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell – PS2 – Review

There is often that slight
tinge of envy whenever another console comes out with that brilliant title you
probably won’t get to play–unless, of course, your friend owns the console in
question–and Playstation 2 owners have felt this more than any other console. 
One of the games that caught our eye, since the hype built it up to Must Have
status, is Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell.  Well, PS2 owners, prepare to dance a jig
of joy.  Splinter Cell has come to the PS2 . . . and it even has some exclusive
bonuses.  So who’s jealous now?


If you have never played
the Xbox version, you’ll find that Splinter Cell’s story is intact despite the
four new exclusive levels and added cut scenes.  It’s the year 2004 and the CIA
lost contact with two of their operatives monitoring unusual activity in the
former Soviet Republic of Georgia.  Fearing that the agents have become victims
to a rising terrorist movement, the CIA and the National Security Agency call on
Third Echelon, a secret agency that deploys agents known as Splinter Cells.  You
play Sam Fisher who is activated and sent to find the two missing agents.  Thus
Fisher sets out on a mission that becomes even more intriguing the deeper you


Because the operation
requires a more stealthily approach rather than just a brute showing of force,
Fisher works under the cover of darkness and shadow, killing only if it’s
absolutely necessary.  He is armed with all the latest technological gizmos from
his night and heat seeking goggles (which are used brilliantly throughout the
game) as well as sticky cameras and tactical audio kit to listen in on
conversations.  While his list of gadgets is quite impressive, it’s Sam Fisher’s
realistic moves that give this game its authentic feel.  He can crouch, roll, do
a split jump or go down a zip line.  He can also grab enemies and use that as
human shield–just like in Metal Gear Solid–and force enemies to talk or use
their retinal scan to open secure doors.


Controlling Fisher is an
easy feat and thus allows gamers to concentrate on the task at hand.  Each
mission branches out into several objectives–that are simple to call up using
his Palm OPSAT if you forgot what you were suppose to do–as your team updates
you with useful information.  While you are left to decide how to approach a
given situation, the game does tend to lead you by the hand throughout the game
(this is the game’s one and only flaw, if you can call it that).  Still,
completing each mission is not a walk in the park considering the fact that the
enemy responds realistically.  Patrols keep a watchful eye and respond to noise
and shooting out a camera can cause a guard to go out and investigate.  It’s
just amazing how this game lets you solve problems in different ways.


As for the extras, the
four bonus levels are both lengthy and add even more depth to the story via the
new cut scenes (including an all-new introduction) Xbox players have never
seen.  You’ll also find interviews with Michael Ironside and even, interestingly
enough, Sam Fisher himself.  All these things together just add more bang to
your buck, making this a pretty neat package in the process.


For those of you who are
worried that the visuals had to be sacrificed and that they don’t even come
close to the Xbox’s accelerated graphics, this version will prove that the PS2
can match the visual quality down to the very last detail.  This just has to be
one of the most visually stunning games seen on the PS2 in a long time and
gamers will be glad to see that every single detail and effect is reproduced
here.  Splinter Cell is all about the details and you’ll love how the lighting
and shadow are done to sheer perfection.  Fisher himself moves so naturally that
it won’t fail to impress.  There are also some great special effects in this
game, most of which come from your own bag of tricks.


The sound also matches the
quality of the graphics and you’ll hear it the minute Sam Fisher steps out in
his first mission.  Sound surrounds our hero as he carries out his task and
you’ll hear everything from the soft tap of a guard’s footsteps to the hum of
the florescent lights.  The music starts off softly as you move stealthily
across the halls of some building and picks up dramatically when a terrorist
suddenly appears.  Even the voice action is done wonderfully and hearing Michael
Ironside (of “Starship Troopers” fame) as Sam Fisher is a delight.


Splinter Cell will have
you thanking the Gaming Gods for bringing a game that not only looks magnificent
but is also a thrilling experience complete with a great story and realistic
stealth action.  If you think I’m hyping this game up a little too much, then
all you have to do is pop it into your PS2 and I’ll let the game convince you on
its own.  Yes action fans, the game is that unquestionably entertaining and
brilliant.  And with the exclusive PS2 content added to the game, this is just
the version to own.  If you don’t own this one already, go out to the
store right and buy it right away . . . you’ll thank me later. 


Scoring Details


Gameplay: 9.0
Many of the things Sam Fisher can do
have been seen before in other games.  Who hasn’t done a peek-and-shoot move
around a corner or grab a person by the throat to use as a human shield?  What
separates this game from those other games is that the hero has a number of
other moves we haven’t seen such as split jump or a rappel and shoot move.  He
also has a number of gadgets at his disposal that doesn’t fail to amaze.  Yet
the best part about all of this is that the list of challenges the game throws
at you are not only inventive, but also challengingly fun.


Graphics: 10
If there’s a word that sums up
Splinter Cell’s visuals, its: Amazing! There is just so much to admire in this
game aside from the perfect example of how lighting should be done in a game. 
Each environment has something the main character can interact with such as
curtains that drape over Sam Fisher as he brushes past it or bushes he could
push aside.  The level of detail is just astonishing, indeed.


The characters in this
game also move realistically and their reactions are just so startlingly natural
that watching them in action is a just a real treat.  The special effects are
also top notch, as well.  Flames roar with smoke and that shimmering waver you
see in real life.  Leaves fall off trees and the breeze blows scattered
newspapers across the ground.  And Fisher’s night and heat vision goggles give
the game an altogether new view of things.  Great stuff, indeed.  


Sound: 10
Not only does the sound compliment
the fantastic visuals, but it’s just one of the best features that gives the
game its cinematic and realistic feel.  The score, for example, is dramatic
enough that each tense situation just feels so nerve-wrecking . . . an effect
that worked for Metal Gear Solid and now works even more good here.  The voice
acting is also well done–and Michael Ironside, as Sam Fisher, was just a great


However, the highlight of
the sound is its sound effects that are as heavily detailed as the graphics
themselves.  The ambience sounds are alive with various distinct sounds that if
you stopped to listen, you can actually identify them.  You can hear the low hum
of a computer if you’re in an office and the stifled cough of a guard who is
taking his time answering the ringing phone.  Outside you can hear the passing
traffic and a dog barking in the far distance.  Your surroundings also make
noise.  For example, making your way past a trash can, Fisher can accidentally
kick an empty bottle or step on broken glass that crunch underneath the soles of
your shoes.


Difficulty: Medium
The name of the game is stealth and
there are many times when Fisher has to be either quiet, concealed in the
shadows or forced to grab a guard by the throat to silently interrogate him. 
None of these things are easy to perform, especially if you’re in a room with
video cameras or guards that keep a religious patrol path.  Since everything
about this game is realistic, things that are so simple in other games–like
picking a lock for instance–is understandably difficult in this game.  Still,
you won’t find yourself having a frustrating time attempting these things.


Concept: 9.5
Unlike Metal Gear Solid that mixes
espionage with a light dash of the supernatural, this game shrouds itself with
realism.  You are armed with the latest technology that is most likely used by
actual operatives, thus giving the game it’s this-can-happen-for-real aspect. 
Not once does this game break away from the realism.  If you cause a commotion
in a room, a guard will investigate.  Kill somebody and the terrorists will not
look for you for a short period of time before unrealistically giving up and
forgetting that somebody died.


Overall: 9.8
Splinter Cell takes stealth action
and realism to all new jaw-dropping heights in this game that’s just too good to
pass up.  If gamers are worried about it not being as polished as the Xbox
version, don’t be–this game is proof that the PS2 has all the goods to bring us
a game with truly amazing visuals.  No gamers should go without having this one
in their library of titles.  Do yourself the favor and pick this one up right