3/20/2003 4:29:16 PM
Splinter Cell PC Review
By gameinfowire.com Staff
The story behind Splinter Cell just screams Tom Clancy. The basic premise behind the story is this. Two undercover CIA agents operating in Ex-Soviet Republic of Georgia suddenly disappear. Players assume the role of Sam Fisher, a secret division of NSA, or otherwise known as Splinter Cell. Right from the start you are treated to a superb video intro which is all done with pre-rendered in-game scenes, and music by Crystal Method. Sam, the protagonist of the story, is right out of Clancy's books. If you have ever seen Sum of All Fears, think of the field agent John Clark, played by Liev Schreiber. From there on, the story will be told though in-game cut-scenes and radio uplink.
Over all, the game is very similar to Metal Gear Solid. Although it's similar, it is also superior, just the next step from MGS. While playing the game, on the PC it's very difficult to shake off that "console" feel of the game. It just feels that if the game was built from ground up for PC alone, there would be more, interaction, more detail, more everything. It feels as if developers were constrained by the limited memory and other system specifications of the consoles when they were making this game. By all means it's not to say that the game lacks anything specific.
Visually, Splinter Cell is easily one of the best, if not the best looking game on the market. Utilizing the latest Unreal tech to drive the amazing visuals, Splinter Cell delivers almost photo-realistic look and astonishingly realistic lighting. With lighting being such an important part of the game play, developers went the distance in trying to recreate the real world lighting effects. They succeeded, and no screen shots will ever do justice to Splinter Cell, no matter how good they are. Sam Fisher's animation is simply superb. Smooth and realistic movements, breathing, running and sneaking has never looked as good before Splinter Cell. One the most memorable scenes in the game, also pictured on the back of the retail box, is that of Sam sneaking past a chin-link fence, with light shining on Sam through the fence. It's hard to describe or even capture with a screen shot the dynamic dance of shadows across Sam's figure and his shadow on the wall next to him.
Unfortunately, along with supreme eye candy a few problems crop up. First, minimum system requirements call for a PIII 800 MHz CPU and 256 MB of RAM. For some that will be a problem, especially 256 MB of RAM. But, those with at least 1.5GHz systems, 256+ MB RAM and anything equivalent or higher than GF3 will able to crank details all the way up. The game won't be flawless, but smooth enough to play and enjoy all the eye candy. Second problem is related to the graphics engine itself, or the rendering methods used. Basically, weird artifacts pop up, especially on wood surfaces. It's really quiet strange, and the first patch did fix some of the glitches but many still remain, especially when you used normal vision mode. These graphical glitches are somewhat diminished by the fact that you spend much of your time in nigh vision mode, but it's a problem nevertheless. Perhaps future patches will address some of this weirdness.
As we already mentioned above, Splinter Cell game play is heavily based on stealth. As a matter of fact, the box says "Stealth action redefined" and rightfully so. A lot of people associate Splinter Cell with Thief series, which was also based on stealth. Thief was certainly a great game, but it can't even come close in terms of game play and visuals to Splinter Cell. The game is played from third person perspective, which works well with game play dynamics and the environment. When weapons are equipped, the camera goes into over the shoulder mode, and mouse controls the targeting reticule. Overall the control scheme is very comfortable and easy to use. Through most of the game, your worst enemy will be light, and hard surfaces that make noise when you move across them. Sure there are plenty of thugs armed with AK47s and grenades, but there are plenty of other games you can play if you want run and gun type game play. Evading guards and completing mission objectives will not always be easy, and in some situation you will have to either kill or otherwise incapacitate whoever is in your way. Killing is always the last option and you can complete the game killing only about a dozen of people if not less. Some missions are more stealth oriented than others, where tripping one alarm or even being seen by guards will end the mission in failure. Yet on other missions you are given permission to gun down foes on sight. In the end, the mix of action and stealth is very satisfying and fun to play.
There are only 9 missions, but each mission is broken up into many segments and might take several hours to complete. There are also many ways one can choose to complete the mission. In some situation there are clearly limited ways, but most of the time, how you complete the objectives is up to you. Even though the game is somewhat on the short side, but you would certainly want to play through at least several times, to get to see all the areas and find all alternative ways. In the end, after much hype and anticipation, Splinter Cell is here and it is awesome. It's certainly not without flaws, but as far as stealth-action games go, there is non better.
Graphics: 9: IF it wasn't for the glitches it would have been 10. Latest Unreal tech is spectacular.
Sound: 10: Music by Crystal Method and voice of Michael Ironside as Sam Fisher (Total Recall, Starship Troopers)
Game play: 9: Very satisfying mix of stealth and action, albeit on the short side.
Story: 10: Tom Clancy all the way. Believable settings and characters, flawless execution and plenty of background info in the game.
Replayability: 8: Only 9 missions. Playing at higher difficulty levels, or just going back to explore more areas will be fun as well.
Overall: 9.2 Simply gorgeous and fun stealth action game. We can only hope UBI Soft decides to release more levels for PC version via free download.
Splinter Cell PC Review