Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell

Review

posted 5/2/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
When looking at the PS2 version of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell I see the words “Director’s Cut” sprawled across the top. Sure they’re not really there but it seems like it would have been a fitting moniker to this special edition of Ubi Soft Montreal’s magnum opus. Instead of going with the usual Xbox-to-PS2 port that seems to be all the rage nowadays, the guys went the extra mile and made enough changes to the game to the effect that even owners of the Xbox game will want to give this one a spin.

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. While these causes the storylines in the Xbox, PC and GameCube versions to be very confusing, the PS2’s additional cutscenes help flesh out the storyline a bit.

Gameplay will no doubt draw some comparisons to Konami’s Metal Gear Solid 2 and rightfully so, the games draw their inspiration from the same well. The well in question is Eidos’ excellent stealth-based game, Thief, an amazing title that forced the gamer to rely on stealth and wits as opposed to brawn and power. You’ll have a stealth meter to let you know how visible you are to your enemies. Of course your goal will be to keep yourself as concealed as possible. When the game begins you’ll be treated to a tutorial that will familiarize you with the game.

There are quite a number of moves available to you. Fisher seems to be a mesh of Jet Li, Jean Claude Van Damme (pre straight to video days) and Arnold Schwartzenager. He can do the splits across two objects and rain fire upon his enemies, he can sneak up behind his foes and deliver a swift blow to the head, he can run towards walls and kick off of them in the midst of a jump. He can even take an unsuspecting terrorist hostage and use him as a human shield if need be. Some of the moves are very impractical and seem to be included to help bulk up the cool-ness factor and in this respect, the designers have succeeded.

Of course he’ll also have the bulk of the usual spy maneuvers. He can peak around corners, lean against walls and of course, perform forward somersaults for no apparent reason (because what movie would be complete without it right?). Analog control dictates how fast he is moving; slightly pushing it will force him to tread lightly while pressing it to the extreme will cause him to move hastily. In another excellent maneuver, he can actually kick his way through windows. It’s an amazing move that truly has to be seen to be believed. What’s great about Splinter Cell is that it successfully engulfs you in the spy atmosphere. As you progress through the game you’ll really get the feeling that every single move you make can have an impact on the balance of the world. You’ll feel that little adrenalin rush hit you every time that a guard passes by your hopefully competent hiding spot. This game provides the type of rush that comes with being nervous and on edge; my palms were actually quite sweaty when I finally was able to put this game down.
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