Review by eaglesfan026

Reviewed: 10/30/06

Not the best in the series, but still solid

I have been a fan of the Splinter Cell series ever since I played the first one back in 2002. Since I bought the original, I've reserved every SC game that has been released after the first one. To put that into perspective, the only other time I've ever reserved a game was for Halo 2. Anyway, back in March (after picking up Oblivion) I decided to reserve this. After learning about all of the release date push-backs I finally got my hands on it. I put it in and was excited to play. I first did the training missions to get my feet wet. The training missions are all white, making it difficult to see. They also didn't cover all of the ground like they had in games past (SC had the obstacle course and the other 2 had in-game hints). But, I digress, I should just get into the meat and bones of all reviews:

Story: 7/10
One of the things that got me excited about this game was the way in which the story mode was presented in all of those producer interviews and trailers. I was told that I would have to make several hard, possibly 'regretful', decision in the midst of my story mode. I didn't get that at all. Well, let me just run it down for you. The story starts out with you in Iceland, doing a standard Splinter Cell mission. You have with you a tag-along who is just starting out as a spy. After you complete this level, you won't be seeing him again and you are taken to jail (I don't really know why). In jail, you meet a guy named Jamie Washington, who is part of the terrorist group JBA. You're mission is to help Jamie and yourself get out of jail. From there, you are taken to the JBA HQ where you will be introduced and get the run-down of things.

You will have to make some fairly big choices, but nothing like the developers promised. There is also a new "Trust Meter", and if one of the two organizations (JBA/NSA) completely loses trust in you, then you have to start over (from your last save that is). Maintaining 100% trust for both factions is not hard at all to do, so there's no need to worry about this. You will continue working undercover for the NSA posing as a JBA terrorist throughout the entire story.

Graphics: 9/10
Before I say anything else, I must say that I play on a fairly small (19") standard definition TV. That being said, I have no problem with the graphics. The player models look great, and the reflections are nice as well as the lighting. You can see Sam's scars if you can manage to manipulate the camera to see that close, and the characters have facial expressions that go along with their mood. One thing that bothers me though is that the lip-synching is off. I guess there isn't anything else to say about the graphics in this game.

Sound: 8/10
The sound department is in the same boat as graphics, although there are a few gripes I have with the voices. First, though, the footsteps are in-sync with your movements and the sound adjust accordingly to how fast you are moving. The voice-overs are great for the main characters (Sam, Jamie, main JBA guys, Lambert), however the guards still have those stupid one-liners after they are alerted. Anyone who has played this knows what I'm talking about, the "Who turned out the lights?", "What was that?!", "W-W-Who's there?". No matter if they are Chinese guards, African guards, Icelandic guards... They all sound the same and say the same things. I wish they would speak in their native languages (or at least have an accent), even if I wouldn't be able to know what they are saying (it's not that important anyway so long as they have the 'worried' tone). There is some background noise depending on the situation (gunfire, waves, etc.). Nothing seems out of place in terms of the background noise, I just wish they would pay more attention to the guards.

Gameplay: 8/10
I don't like how they've replaced the Noise/Light meters with a stupid traffic light. I call it that because it changes from green, yellow, or red depending on the situation you are in (green if you are hidden in the shadows, yellow if you are in the light, red if you are spotted/an alert has gone off). It's better than nothing, but it's not all that accurate at times and the light doesn't take into consideration the amount of noise you are making. There are gadgets you can unlock by completing starred secondary missions, but these 'gadgets' are usually just SK-20 attachments like different grenades and wall mines. They are rarely, if ever, used and just about all of the gadgets seem to be there for the option to go around blasting your way through the levels. A select few of the gadgets do come in handy though, and you'll find yourself using the same 3 or 4 gadgets throughout the entire story mode if you play like me (stealthily).

For some reason, Ubisoft decided to take out some stealth moves from the single player. For example, no more wall splits, no more shooting from the pipes, no more SWAT turn, no more wall jumping (goes with wall splits). They've also changed the hacking system. I don't know what was wrong with it in CT, but now you are presented with 4 rows of numbers that are rapidly changing. The correct numbers will eventually stop and you click on them afterwards. As usual, you only get a few second-chances and there is a time limit while you hack. Safe cracking has been added, and it's fun and frustrating at the same time. I'm not going to try to butcher the explanation, so I'll stay clear of it. As you can see, the gameplay has been altered more than a little bit, but it's still not bad and you'll get used to it after a while.

Multiplayer: 8/10
The multiplayer has been altered as well. In this instance, the Co-Op we all know and love from CT is gone and they've replaced it with a different type of co-op. It's standard Versus mode except there are "Co-Op challenges" and it's 1-3 human players against 3 bots. It's still fun but most people would have preferred the way it was in CT. One thing to mention is that the bots are almost impossible to fool most of the time and they will cover the area perfectly. Although it makes it more challenging, it can really get aggravating and ridiculous at times. In Co-Op and Versus modes, the spies can only take one item with them and the items they have to choose from are Smoke grenades, Flash grenades, Syringes, and a Jammer. The maps are the same in Co-op and Versus as well, and most of them are fun and well laid-out (there are a few rotten apples, just like in any game). I believe there are 10 maps in all, but I'm not 100% positive.

This is a solid game on all angles. If they hadn't taken a few short cuts and just stuck with what was working (CT Co-op, single player noise/light meters) and change a few monotonous, re-occurring things (guard one-liners, majority of gadgets) then they would have themselves a very, very good game. However, they've taken out more than they've put in (not counting the new missions) and some of the things they've omitted were a staple in the SC series for a long time. This isn't a complete failure, but it hasn't lived up to my hype yet and I doubt it ever will. Even though there are many missing things this game is still enjoyable and it is user-friendly for the people who are just picking up the series for the first time.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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