Review: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
October 15, 2006
I Am Very Sneaky Sir
Ubisoft / All Platforms / Mature
The Splinter Cell series has, in its first two games, effectively redefined the stealth genre for the new generation and set a more serious and realistic setting than games such as Metal Gear. Tied into the excellent game of high stakes hide and seek is a story of political intrigue from Tom Clancy himself. This combination has captivated gamers making the series very successful and marking a golden age for Ubisoft. Now the third Splinter Cell is here straight off the heels of its predecessor.
Gamers play, as always, Sam Fisher who this time has been dispatched to help relieve tensions in a growing conflict between China, North Korea, and Japan. This will take Sam across the globe to poorly lit areas in Panama, New York, Japan and other faraway places.
Anyone who has played Pandora Tomorrow should be able to hop right in. There are only a few upgrades, like a longer story and a few new moves and gadgets. For those who haven’t played before here is a brief recap.
This is the big daddy of stealth games in which modern super spy Sam Fisher sneaks around using his many moves and tools to neutralize enemies, find data, and rescue the occasional hapless hostage. Each level has several objectives ranked by importance as primary, secondary, and opportunity. Primary objectives are the only ones necessary to complete before extraction, though several of the minor objectives will have to be revisited if not done the first time around.
Before each mission Sam receives an extensive briefing, chooses from two similar weapon sets, and gets going. The useful heads up display (HUD) interface shows the weapon equipped, visibility, and sound. The sound meter shows both ambient noise and the sound Sam is making. As long as he is in darkness and not making sound above the ambiance Sam is effectively a ghost and undetectable unless he gets too close or alarms a guard.
Along with actual weapons Sam has a noisemaker, a versatile sticky camera, and a sticky shocker, all of which distract guards for a valuable few seconds, allowing Sam to sneak by.
The game can basically be played two ways: silent or deadly. The silent way entails sneaking around without alerting anyone and non-lethally eliminating enemies. While this style will fetch the best mission rating, it may not be for everyone. The deadly approach means stealthily eliminating all enemies on the path to the objectives. This means knifing, neck snapping, and headshots. This gets a significantly lower mission rating, but may be more suited to the casual gamer.
As with the last game, Chaos Theory makes a big splash with the multiplayer. Co-Op, spies and mercenaries, and regular modes are all excellent online except for perpetually tortured Gamecubers who are, as always, left out in the cold. The only problems with this game are in some mediocre voice acting and dialogue, poor load and save times, and the occasional stale feeling. Mostly this is just another wonderful dose of shadow hopping and there’s nothing wrong with that.
SC is one of the rare franchises like Ratchet and Clank that can crank out a new game every year with minor upgrades and still be loved and praised. The stealth gaming set has a new golden idol and all other gamers looking for a cerebral challenging experience should definitely give this a try.
By Zack Rovinsky