Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone






Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell from Ubi Soft is an intense tactical combat title that features amazing graphics, sophisticated weapons and a realistic plot. You to take control of a Special Operations soldier and your mission is to unravel and destroy a terrorist cell that threatens freedom. The controls are excellent and the environments are richly detailed, but does Splinter Cell have what it takes to dethrone Metal Gear Solid as the best stealth action game? The Laser goes deep undercover to find out.

Splinter Cell is set in the near future and places you in the role of an agent working for a mysterious agency. You are in the realm of high-stakes espionage, where shadowy operatives have the freedom to do whatever it takes to safeguard America, including assassinations and sabotage. Your name is Sam Fisher, a field operative for the National Security Agency. Fisher works for a secretive organization named Third Echelon. You're sent to investigate a series of events that led to the apparent murder of an agent in an Eastern European nation. Fisher finds out that the murders are involved with terrorist organization is trying to assemble bio and nuclear weapons. Fischer's mission is to take out Third Echelon without causing a major incident. If he's caught in the act, kills too many civilians, or fails to complete his mission objectives, the agency will deny any knowledge of his existence.

The stakes are high but you should have the skills and tools to get the job done. Splinter Cell's design is quite sophisticated and allows the player to complete objectives without having to follow a set path. Splinter Cell's missions are challenging with an excellent balance of stealth, action and complicated puzzles that require skills and brainpower. There's an excellent pace to the storyline and missions that keeps your interest level high throughout. The non-linear approach makes Splinter Cell seem even more realistic. During the game, players will find additional health, ammo and weapons that can be picked up. Splinter Cell's environments are large and players will spend a lot of time exploring them, which can result in finding secret paths and other ways around. Luckily, there are frequent save points that prevent you from doing too much tedious backtracking.

Fisher has a number of stealth tactics and moves that he can use that will allow him to complete the missions that are integral to the gameplay. The most important thing is to keep his cover. Players need to keep him in the darkness and avoid direct confrontations or being detected by cameras. An onscreen light indicator in the HUD shows how visible he is, allowing you to keep his exposure to a minimum. In many areas of the game, he can hide behind objects and can roll around and crouch to stay out of sight. Fisher can also shimmy along edges and ledges, glide through zip lines, jump off walls and peek around corners. Simply moving around creates noise and this also tips off enemies to his presence. You need to familiarize yourself by understanding which surfaces make the most noise. He also has other tactics in addition to staying in the shadows to stay out of view. He can climb ladders and pipes, hang over gaps, or sneak through tight areas by walking with his back against a wall.

Additional tactics available to players include the ability to climb hand-over-hand while hanging from a pipe and can wrap his legs around these so they don't dangle and tip off the enemies. When he's lurking in the shadows, he can jump onto or sneak up behind enemies to disable them. If he catches them off-guard he'll hold them, at which point he can do a number of things. Fisher can force them to co-operate in order extract information, use them as human shields in some situations or can simply knock them out or kill them. Once these enemies have been neutralized, their presence may also tip off guards to his existence. He can pick up and remove the bodies of fallen foes and carry them into the shadows, safely out of sight. These stealth abilities are quite impressive and the implementation is sterling.

Splinter Cell's weapons and gadgets consist of real-world and prototype devices. Fisher's basic arsenal includes a standard pistol, which is effective and simple to use. He is also equipped with special goggles that allow him to view the action in either Thermal or Night Vision modes. Night Vision lights up the screen and is used to spot enemies lurking in the darkness while the Thermal mode uses body heat to see enemies who may be hiding behind doors. The google effects are only enhanced by Splinter Cell's outstanding camera system which allows you to use them while moving. The camera system has been integrated seamlessly with the other controls, allowing you to change viewpoints and look around intuitively. Fisher's other main device is his OPSAT that displays mission objectives and other important information. The OPSAT is one of the coolest things in the game, and players should refer to it often. Other weapons at his disposal include assault rifles, sniper guns, flares, missile launchers, gas grenades, shockers, and projectile missiles that incapacitate enemies. Fisher can also use sticky mini-cameras and time bombs on walls that can hurt unsuspecting enemies. The Lock Pick is used to open sealed doors, though using this can be a bit tricky. Later on, the player will get an Optical Camera with night-vision abilities. He can use this device to see underneath doors to see what's happening on the other side of them. These are all impressive and useful devices and their ease of use and utility allows them to be effective, rather than gimmicks.

Splinter Cell's controls are intuitive and allow Fisher's dexterity to shine through. You use the main analog stick to move while the secondary analog stick controls the camera. Jumping and climbing are easy to perfom. In order to take a guard out, you only need sneak behind them and press the A button. At this point, Fisher holds them can knock them out or extract information. Picking up bodies is likewise intuitive, and makes moving the bodies to another location easier than it sounds. At many points in the game, you can interact with objects simply by pressing the A button. This may not sound like a big deal, but the consistent interface makes playing Splinter Cell incredibly intuitive. Firing your gun requires you to equip it then you target the shots using the analog stick. Pulling up the inventory screen allows you to change weapons or use health kits, and is easy to understand. Each gadget has its own mechanism and work seamlessly into the standard controls. Splinter Cell's almost transparent controls are incredibly impressive, offering both versatility and simplicity.

Splinter Cell's breathtaking visuals set a new high-water mark on the Xbox. No title has approached the level of realism that this title achieves from the moment you begin. Splinter Cell's large levels are amazing with incredible detail throughout. The dynamic lighting effects allow shadows to seep through complex objects such as ornate fences creating multi-tiered shadows rich with a subtlety and nuance. There is an amazing level of detail in many of the game's objects, giving it an unprecedented visual polish. Muted colors and darkness make Splinter Cell's dark environments appear photo-realistic. Fisher himself looks lifelike with his face-stubble making him seem almost alive. Splinter Cell's animation is outstanding as well, making you feel like you're controlling an actual agent. These environments are all the more impressive because they're fully interactive. You can grab bottles or soda cans and throw them to distract enemies, shoot out lights and move paintings to find hidden safes. The audio is also implemented brilliantly and adds to Splinter Cell's tension and suspense. While in some areas, the music is non-existent, it swells and becomes increasingly agitated when major events occur brilliantly underscoring the action. The production values are highly polished with an unprecedented level of detail that increases your immersion and lends it a sleek realism.

The comparisons between Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid 2 are obvious, with both titles featuring a lone protagonist engaged in stealth missions. However, there are major differences in philosophy and design that should allow this title to stand on it's own. For example, while there was a on-screen radar in Metal Gear Solid that allowed you to see what was in the next room, in Splinter Cell, the player has no idea what lurks behind each locked door and needs to use the Optical Camera. This is a big difference and the grounding in reality makes all the difference in its appeal. Splinter Cell's plot and characters are more believable than the bizarre storyline that hampered MGS2. While the graphics are amazing, what really makes the game stand out are its real-world devices and techniques. As opposed to fantasy weapons and boss creatures that seem to have no relation to the reality. In the end, it's this realism in all departments and the flawless implementation that sets the game apart.

Splinter Cell excels in many areas and delivers what is probably the most heart-pounding action title ever seen on a console. Only a handful of games have come as close to photo-realism as Splinter Cell and the visuals are some of the most amazing seen on the Xbox or any other conosle. The game's pace is almost perfect, and it unfolds at with a good mixture of stealth and action that creates tension and excitement, immersing you into its engaging storyline and interesting characters. Splinter Cell's realism and stealth makes for quite an intense experience with all the tension of a real-world spy mission. The intuitive controls make it easy to control Fisher and perform some spectacular moves and stunts. Splinter Cell is an amazing achievement that delivers on the promise and then some. It's probably the best Xbox title this year and should not be missed by any gamer.


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