#676 Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Posted: 27th July 2011 by Mulholland in Games
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72nd game played so far

Genre: Stealth
Platform: Oh so many
Year of Release: 2005
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft

Just as soon as we had taken off our infra-red specs it is time for another stealth game to have its credentials checked out by us at Pong and Beyond.

When it comes to the Splinter Cell games I am probably one of the many people who actually thought that since the Tom Clancy name is attached that he had written the book this was based on or that he had some sort of creative control… but no it’s an endorsement only job since he is such a powerful name in the world of espionage fiction.

In any such event, we will be covering a few games in under the Tom Clancy umbrella.

Our Thoughts

So here we are, the second stealth game in a row. It’s hard not to compare the two right now. Since we are looking at the big Asian stealth series versus one of the big Western franchises it is only natural. And for that it’s a good thing we’re playing these two this close together, as the differences show. Overall, I felt this game was more fun and better to play. Controls? This game felt more intuitive throughout, helped with some simple on-screen prompts. Missions? More varied, optional objectives and a completion based on how you do. Graphics? Just a step up. Since this was released a year after Metal Gear Solid 3 you would expect a step up in graphics and sound.

The area that this game shines is, no pun intended, the use of dynamic lighting. This acts in a similar way to the camouflage rating in the Metal Gear Solid game except, since there is no numerical rating, so much more of the actions is up to personal judgement. Since we have yet to play the older Splinter Cell game on this list it is hard for us to know what is new and what is a new addition so expect this to cover aspects of both. The thing that I really loved was the sheer wealth of options available at any given moment during the missions. If you do a bit of exploring you may be able to find secret crawlspaces to help you navigate undetected.There are many options related to enemies; kill them or not, how you dispatch them and if you choose a lethal course of action or not. This is a stealth game at heart but you can go in all guns blazing if you so choose. Or… you can hang from the rafters and descend on your enemies like a trapdoor spider. Or sneak past them. If you sneak up to them, you can grab them from behind, knock them out or kill them. Knocking them out is cleaner and gives you more points. More important when there are civilians that you don’t want to kill.With all that, the map is indispensable, although due to the 3D nature of the levels, this isn’t always as useful. Levels and connections between rooms are confusing, making the map only useful as a general guide. Luckily it’s generally not too hard to find your way. It works well since while it feels non-linear in many ways it is linear enough to prevent you from fumbling in the dark for too long.

Part of it is the many things you can do in theory. Before properly started the games, we sat through the training videos that serve as a tutorial – just simple movies that explain the actions you can take and show how to execute them on the controller.ย  This showed lots of options and did feel overwhelming, but once we actually played the game, it felt quite intuitive and worked well. There’s a bit of searching involved, but that was only a minute or two. Compare this to the trouble that we ended up having with the last game we covered this was a welcome relief. It’s all well and good explaining how to use the gun but indicating the L1 button is a lot easier than saying “use the shoot button”. I have no idea why games would ever choose the latter option since it is not a language difficulty but it was good to see Ubisoft keeping it simple in that respect. And by using an on-screen representation of the controller, it didn’t even need to break the fourth wall, or make you wonder which button L1 is again. It’s just the left small shoulder button.

As you can probably gather, we played the PS2 incarnation of this game. Since this has been ported to ten different systems (including one for the 3DS) the popularity of the title speaks for itself. It’s easy to see why. It’s fully focused on stealth gameplay, allowing you to do everything you feel you should be able to do while crawling through dark corridors and doing your extractions. This is what you want a stealth game to be.

Final Thoughts

Since our only exposure to the stealth game genre is via the Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell franchises it is probably not a wise move to make an over-arching generalisation of the genre at the moment… but if we did I would have to say that it is pretty close between the two.

In the end though if I were to be forced to choose between the two franchises I would so far have to side with the Metal Gear Solid one… it is just more immersive despite the fact that it does not deal with stealth in as satisfactory a fashion.