Before I had actually played the game, I heard a lot of hype on Splinter Cell in general, so I guess I had some high expectations of the game. I hadn’t played the game before (on the Xbox or PC) so this review is not a revamp on what’s different between ported versions. Splinter Cell puts the player in the shoes of Sam Fisher, a highly trained NSA special agent pit against shady forces terrorizing the world. The NSA has a special branch called the Third Echelon specially set against cyber terrorism. The real tactic of this game is stealth rather than assault. It’s impossible to kill every soldier in a level (someone I’m sure will prove me wrong here) and I’m sure that it would be much less fun to play through if that were the objective. You must sneak Sam through ceiling vents around corners and through the shadows to achieve your objectives. In the beginning of the game Sam is equipped with a silenced pistol, but upgrades to a sweet experimental assault rifle later in the game. Sam is also equipped with night vision and thermal vision to help him identify threats and stay out of harm’s way. The hype I heard wasn’t completely all hype: Splinter Cell is a good game, but not as good as the pioneer in this genre for consoles, Metal Gear Solid. Let me get to the ratings. Short and Sweet. The graphics for Splinter Cell are pretty darn good. Lighting effects and shadow projection look great. The frame rate isn’t as smooth as I’d like it to be, but it was what I expected out of the PS2. NPC movement (enemy soldiers and the like) was realistic and fluid and the cut-scenes look super BUT…I was a little put off by the fact I could open a door right in front of an enemy guard and he didn’t see me. I was also put off by the fact that I could seize a guard from behind about ten feet away from another guard and the other guard didn’t seem to notice. Good Job. Music isn’t really a part of any of the in-game missions which is perfect due to the nature of the game, as you need to listen for sounds like guards walking or talking to each other or for the sound of a mission ending security camera. Cut-scene music and voice acting is superb. Maybe just a little bit of cheeze thrown in to some of the conversations, but you’ve got to have that in ANY spy/agent game. Okay. The control for the game is pretty complex. There are lots of different moves/stances/control features involved in getting Sam around in a level. I hated the camera interface. It always seemed to go the opposite way I wanted it to. I tried inverting it but it inverted in a way not useful to me so I left it on standard control. I wish all the 3rd-person perspective games would collaborate and keep the camera control directions the same. Trying to move silently is very difficult unless you know a trick or two. The analog stick isn’t as sensitive as it should be to move slowly and quietly. Luckily I learned that if you hold your gun up while moving you automatically move slowly and quietly. I would’ve given up in frustration if I hadn’t found that trick. The gun aiming movement is SLOW. So you basically get one shot if the attacker is coming right at you as it’s impossible to move the aiming reticule fast enough for a second shot. That may be a good thing in order to encourage stealthy play, but it was annoying nonetheless. I felt that this game was too short and too repetitive. You do have different objectives and achieve them in different ways, but almost all the missions felt exactly the same to me. The gun upgrade was a very cool addition and sniping is fun, but for some reason the game didn’t pull me in and make me not want to stop playing. Not enough diversity in gameplay pulls this rating down. It tells a good story however and baits you a little bit in that regard, but I found myself being more frustrated with controls and repetitiveness than enjoying the game. There were a lot of places in the game where trial-and-error repeat sessions exist. This is usually a necessary evil in almost any game but this happens too much here. There was another thing that bothered me a little bit, in missions you pick up data sticks and information from computers, but it felt like they had no real effect on the game (except the occasional door code.) I felt like I could pass all these up because they didn’t reward me with any extras for getting them. Once through was enough for me as far as replay is concerned. I had fun, but I had no motivation to try it again. This is a class A title and feels like one so shelling out the bucks feels worth it.
Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).