Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (PC) Review

Admin - 2007-02-06 17:02:01 in Gaming
Category: Gaming
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: April 10, 2004
Price: $39.99 USD

Introduction

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell had to have been one of the coolest games I've ever played. It provided a decent challenge, and good graphics, a since of “wow”. The new sequel, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow is just as good as the original, and the added multiplayer makes it even better.

We've already seen a couple of highly anticipated game sequels this year, and while they are good games, they don't wow us the way the originals did. Well, that was until I got my hands on Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (from now on, called SCPT).

Closer Look

For those of you living in the dark, Splinter Cell is a stealth-action game that puts you in the roll of Sam Fisher, who happens to be an ex-US Navy SEAL as well as an ex-CIA agent. As you find out in the original title, Sam now works for sub-agency of the NSA known as “Third Echelon”. The task of “Third Echelon” is to do whatever it takes in order to protect the county, this task is known as the “Fifth Freedom.” And of course, should Sam ever become captured or killed, all knowledge of his existence will be denied.



Sam Returns to the spy game with a few new tricks and tools. Those of you who played the first game, should be happy to know that the controls for SCPT are almost identical to the original. However, oddly enough, the controls for the multiplayer mode are dramatically different.

The single player game requires you to be a bit more involved than the original, as you have new hidden challenges that require you to make use of your gadgets. As always, your night vision goggles will help you see in the dark, and your infrared goggles will detect body heat. In addition, your infrared vision also plays a key roll in detecting land mines, trip lasers, and even a man with a prosthetic limb (and no, it's not the one armed man).

The AI isn't exactly great, as the non-player characters (NPCs) seam to follow a strict way point pattern. This makes it easy in most cases to memorize and time their movements and sneak past them. Though don't be to over confident about this, as moving to fast or becoming to visible will raise an alarm. I even had NPCs try shooting at me through walls.

If an NPC does spot you in most situations, they'll call for backup before firing at you, which gives you the opportunity to neutralize them first. In SCPT, an alarm isn't always mission over. In most missions you are given 3 “alarm stages” which gives you a little more leeway for screw ups. At the first alarm stage, terrorist will put on flack jackets, and they will put on helmets at the second alarm level. Luckily, at certain points the alarm stage will reset back down to zero. Even though you have three chance (most of the time), you'll still want to be careful. A terrorist is deadly enough, but the added body armor head gear make them even tougher.

Another change from the first game, you now have to hide the bodies a bit more carefully. Even if you have killed or incapacitated every NPC in the building, an alarm may still be called if the body is in a well lit area.

As mentioned earlier, Sam's got a few new tricks in his bag. He can now whistle to attract a terrorist, setting the poor fool up for a sneak attack.

Closer Look (Cont.)


Sam also has a new “S.W.A.T. turn”, which allows Sam to pass by doorways without being noticed. Some of the other abilities Sam has include repelling, split jumping, climbing, and shimmying which will (hopefully) keep you undetected through most of your missions. And should you find yourself in a confrontation with the enemy, Sam has several options (lethal and non) on how to deal with the target.

The story itself is good, and even has a reference or two back to the first plot line. The only thing I would have to say bad about the story is it is linear. You have no options, no alternate paths in the story, it's pretty much do as you told or mission over. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but a lot more depth could be added with a dynamic story line.

The major thing about the game, is it is very much trial and error. You'll probably find yourself restoring a save game multiple times when trying to complete a mission. Part of the reason for the trial and error method is due to the game being very linear, as mentioned earlier.

If you like fast paced, ton's pf people, high kill count, shooters, then this isn't the game for you. Remember, this is a spy game. ;)

In the single player part of the game, you learn about a group of spies like Sam, known as Shadownet. They are set out to neutralize several canisters of the smallpox virus. This part of the single player game is what the multiplayer part is based on. You play as either a Shadownet member, whose goal is to end the bio-terror threat; or you play as a Terrorist, who is sworn to protect the virus.

The multiplayer mode supports a maximum of 4 players, and can be played with any team combination (2v2, 3v1, 2v1, 1v1, etc).

The Shadownet members play in the 3rd person view, just like the single player game, while the terrorist move around in traditional 1st person view.

Each team is equipped with their own unique gadgets. The spies get the dual mode goggles, as well as a few specialty grenades (smoke, flashbang, chaff). They spies also have the ability to ease drop on enemy communication.

The terrorist (actually called ARGUS Corporation Member) have their own bag of tricks. Flashlights and laser pointers make locating and identify targets easy, the added Electromagnetic Field (EMF) vision and motion vision helps detect even the stealthiest spy. The terrorist also get their share of grenades (flares, frags, and phosphorescent) and even mines.

If avoiding the terrorist wasn't hard enough for the spies, the terrorist also get the home field advantage. Motion detectors, surveillance cameras, and trip lasers are sure to throw a damper in any spy's mission.

While the multiplayer mode is good, it could be improved on. First off, rather than using the popular, GameSpy Arcade as a server browser, SCPT is played on UbiSoft's own system. While the system isn't bad, I find GameSpy's system to be far superior. Though I can understand a company wanting to use their own system for their game. :)

Another problem plagued by the multiplayer mode is the inability to disable friendly fire. Friendly fire, whether is due to a noob, idiot, or just a no good team killer, seems to have no recourse.

The multiplayer game has three game modes, but only eight levels to chose from. While each level is nice, and provides a good challenge, it'd be nice to have some additional maps. Perhaps some outdoor maps? We've seen how beautiful the game is outside, why limit those scenes to just the single player game? We can only hope that the powers that be at UbiSoft release some additional maps.

Whether you are play single player or multiplayer, one thing's fore sure. The graphics and sound to this game rock. Shadows, lighting, textures, it's all good. Though I will admit, some of the animations could be improved.

Screenshots









Screenshots (Cont.)









In Game Movies

We do it when we can. Image's just aren't enough. Here are some in game movies. See Sam Fisher in action. To download one of the movies below, right click the download link and select "Save Target As". You will then be able to download the movie to your computer where you can watch it.

Movie 1 - 2.2MB - Download Movie 2 - 2.9MB - Download
Movie 3 - 3.2MB - Download Movie 4 - 7.2MB - Download
Movie 5 - 4.4MB - Download Movie 6 - 2.0MB - Download
Movie 7 - 1.2MB - Download Movie 8 - 2.3MB - Download
Movie 9 - 1.8MB - Download Movie 10 - 3.2MB - Download
Movie 11 - 1.4MB - Download Movie 12 - 3.4MB - Download


Conclusion

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow is a solid continuation from the original Splinter Cell. It may not have dozens of new things, which most people expect in a sequel, but the story, graphics, sound, and multiplayer mode more than make up for it.


Gamers Review
You’ve seen what I’ve thought about the game. But what do others have to say about it? To get some other feedback on the game, we asked our forum members what they thought about Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow before posting our review. Here’s what one member had to say:

Ph0n33z "The MP is so engrossing, it grabs you by the jugular, and doesn't let go until every drop of sweat in your body has poured out from your forehead and onto your keyboard, causing directional malfunction, and eventually an injust kill for the opposing team..."

Game Rating
All scores have a maximum of 10.0.

Gameplay
9.0
Graphics
9.5
Sound
9.0
Value
9.5
Reviewer's Raiting
10.0
OVERALL
9.4