Game Review

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Platform: Xbox
  • ESRB: Teen
  • Genre: Stealth
  • Players: 1
  • Online: No
  • Developer: Red Storm Interactive
  • Publisher: Ubi Soft
  • Suggested Retail: $49.99
  • Graphics: A
  • Sound: A
  • Gameplay: A-
  • Replay: B
  • Fun Factor: A-
  • Reviewer's Wild Card: A


Solid Snake eat your heart out

By James Stevenson     December 12, 2002

I'm a huge fan of the Tom Clancy novels. Written with a keen eye for detail, a high level of suspense, and great characters, I anxiously await each new novel. With the help of Ubi Soft, the newest Tom Clancy title puts gamers into the role of Sam Fisher, a character similar to a novel favorite: John Clark. The game features Fisher as a splinter cell, a lone agent who must protect the freedoms of the United States.

Something big is going down in Turkey. Two agents have disappeared, and Fisher is activated. After going through The Farm a CIA training camp mentioned frequently in Clancy novels Fisher is assigned to his first mission: locate the missing operatives. From there, the intrigue and mystery only heightens.

The METAL GEAR series has always been popular for its stealth over action gameplay, and SPLINTER CELL takes that idea and makes it much more realistic. From the addition to a light meter, to hiding bodies, to being obsessively quiet, there is plenty of attention to detail. Part-obstacle course, part METAL GEAR, you'll be retrying many, many sections of the game.

Fisher has plenty of tools at his disposal. While you might like the silenced pistol, you'll find yourself more inclined to use the lockpick, night-vision goggles, or random cans or bottles you find on the street. In addition to his gadgets, you'll also be able to climb poles, jump across alleys, kick-jump off of walls, and choke guards (particularly useful for getting them to open retinal scan doors).

Perhaps the biggest difference in this game and METAL GEAR is the use of lighting effects, and how much they play into the gameplay. On your status indictors, you have a light meter. By staying in areas that are dark, guards will not be able to see you, and sometimes go right on by. However, standing in the middle of an area under floodlights is bound to attract some sort of attention. The Xbox hardware allows for superior display of these lighting effects and most gamers should be impressed by the technical detail in the game.

The mission objectives are also very well thought out and are realistic. The main problem comes in that the game is that it gets a bit repetitive. You have to stay hidden, and make it through different situations, usually by some sort of trial-and-error. While this is cool and difficult, it eventually becomes annoying. I like the game, but I just wish there had been a bit more variety. Of course, we are going for realism here... so while it works, it just isn't quite as fun to play as it should be.

The lighting effects in this game have blown me away. You won't believe your eyes at times. Many of the graphical effects in the game are top-notch and will have you wishing for more companies to really push the Xbox hardware. The game exhibits a layer of polish that is seldom seen and has the polygons in all of the right places. A very realistic look to go with a realistic game.

Sound wise things are good too. With 5.1 surround support you will hear tons of ambient background noise that adds a lot to the game. I really enjoyed the sound in the game, it rounds out a technical package that is nearly flawless.

SPLINTER CELL is one of the best Xbox games out there, unfortunately, by the end it has been repetitive and linear a bit too long. Still, every Xbox owner should give this game a try, and fans of METAL GEAR need to pick it up.


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