Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell

Review

posted 3/15/2003 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
What happens when Solid Snake meets Tom Clancy? A star’s bound to be born and this time his name is Sam Fisher, the star of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, one of the freshest and most impressive games to arrive on the Xbox scene.

The first time I came in contact with Splinter Cell was in one of the backrooms of Microsoft’s Xbox booth at this year's E3. A representative was showcasing a few of the ‘must-have’ Xbox titles of the Holiday season and she was very adamant about demo-ing SC for us. After she finally managed to boot up the game I must say that my jaw hit the floor only to stay there for the remainder of the expo. The game was extremely impressive, featuring breathtaking visuals, intuitive gameplay and a main character worthy of starring in his own major motion picture. For those three days everywhere I went the focus of a conversation would somehow steer its way towards Splinter Cell, no matter how far-fetched the topic may have been.

After the successful Xbox release, Ubi Soft decided to release the game on other platforms. The PC version hit my desk coming in at 3 disks. Where other companies are only giving CD sleeves with their releases (Unreal Tournament 2003, Neverwinter Nights), Splinter Cell comes in a nice large jewel case to keep your CDs nice and protected. I wish more companies would take Ubi’s lead and not skimp on the jewel cases.

Starting the game was chore right from the get go. Well, a patch was released as the game hit the shelves so that should tell you they needed some more QA work on the game. Anyways, installing on my nice AMD 2200+ system with a Geforce4 Ti4200, ABIT KD7-G motherboard, and up to date drivers, I started out with the training mission. After viewing the introduction video, the game popped me to the desktop of Windows XP with an error. Well that’s not a nice way to start off a review. After numerous unsuccessful tries with the crash occurring right after the end of the video I took the game to my Ati All-in-Wonder 9700 Pro and MSI motherboard system with the same CPU. The game worked without a hitch there but I was never able to diagnose the problem with Ubi Soft. And from what I’ve read on the forums this is not an uncommon problem. Ah the joys of porting a game to the PC: you have to program for every configuration possible and have to work hard to resolve conflicts instead of focusing on one hardware spec like the Xbox.

Tom Clancy inspired games have really come in to their own during the past five years. Rainbow Six was one of the most impressive games of its time and has since found a permanent place on my personal favorites shelf. Rogue Spear was an excellent title that really helped propel the genre forward with better tactics, better AI and better overall gameplay. Then came Ghost Recon, the epitome of everything that a squad-based shooter typified. With every seceding title, Red Storm managed to advance the genre and propel it to a whole new level. With the exclusion of The Sum of All Fears, all of their games have made a significant impact on gamers everywhere. It is for this very reason that I feel that Splinter Cell fails to exude that Game of the Year aura that it initially held. Most portions of the game feel too similar to another and after a few hours of gameplay you’ll start to come down with a bit of déjà vu.

The storyline is what you’d typically expect to derive from a Tom Clancy novel. You’ll assume the role of Sam Fisher; a top agent whose duty is to stop acts of terrorism in their tracks. Working in secrecy for Echelon 3, he is proficient in lethal arts and munitions but his most valuable asset will be stealth. Since this is a Clancy novel, the story has you doing battle with the Russians and the Chinese because, as always, they’re EVIL! The story unfolds via sequences of disjointed news clips that really cause more confusion than they should. I’m not certain as to their purpose because I was given the impression that they’d help advance the story. Instead I was scratching my head, wondering exactly what in the hell was going on.
Page 1 of 3