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
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 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.