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Game Profile
PlayStation 2
Ubisoft Montreal
GENRE: Action
May 09, 2003
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 6

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction

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 Written by Adam Woolcott  on January 10, 2003

First Impressions: Who put George Clooney in my video game?

As one of the biggest Xbox releases of the fall, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell was hyped through the roof by Xbox fans and those who cover the console. Despite having no established franchise behind it (with the exception of the Clancy name), Splinter Cell has been one of the largest sellers on Xbox this holiday season, and for good reason ? SC is undoubtedly one of the best stealth/action games in a long while.

And now, just a few months later, it's on the way to the PlayStation 2. Ubi Soft's highest profile game is coming to the world's best selling game console ? and while it isn't going to be the same technical marvel as the Xbox version, it's guaranteed to contain the same exciting and tense stealth action that defined the Xbox edition. With Splinter Cell set for release this March, it's not long before Solid Snake and company have some competition on the PlayStation 2.

Splinter Cell tells the tale of Sam Fisher ? a middle aged, George Clooney-ish looking fella (right down to the garb he wore as Danny Ocean in the Bellagio robbery scene of the Ocean's Eleven remake) who happens to be a real Splinter Cell ? a man who works for the NSA, but if he's ever captured, the US will deny his existence. Splinter Cells have the ?5th freedom? that protects the usual 4 freedoms ? the freedom to do whatever it takes to protect the 4 freedoms. Sam is part of Third Echelon, a team of security experts who are out to put a stop to an uprising in former Soviet state Georgia (I'm not talking Atlanta here), and end the Information Crisis. The trick is, Sam can't play run and gun to end the conflict; he has to do it as quietly as possible to avoid being seen, heard, or captured at all costs. Naturally, this is a typical Tom Clancy story, fitting the game universe created for his brand name.

The Xbox version of Splinter Cell consists of 9 missions throughout the world ? it's expected all 9 will be in the PS2 version, and if rumors persist, the PS2 version will contain 2 added levels not seen on the Xbox version (though the same rumor says these 2 levels are downloadable on Xbox Live, so it evens out). Sam will blow through the CIA office, a Georgian police station, a tanker-thingy, and a Chinese Embassy on his quest to save the galaxy from certain doom?or something.

What's cool about Splinter Cell is the variances in the missions ? some missions require you to kill absolutely nobody, and only knock them out, others let you use whatever means necessary to complete the level. All have a similar goal though ? don't be caught or killed?be as quiet and sneaky as possible. The realism in Splinter Cell is ridiculous; there's no radar to track enemies, and the guards are very smart & don't let much get past them, unless you know how to hide and use the lights to your advantage.

Sam will have plenty of artillery at hand to use against the bad guys ? standard guns, sticky shockers (hit ?em and fry ?em, really), airfoil rounds that temporarily daze enemies so you can knock them unconscious without much hassle, wall mines to send a room going boom, and fun little cameras that distract guards and then knock them out with a gas?among many more weapons and items to use.

Also at his disposal, Sam will bring some cool athletic moves to the party (not bad for an old guy). He can do a split jump and hover above enemies and drop down on them, he can roll through fire, and can even rappel down the side of a building like a reverse Spiderman. Not only that, Sam has the power to pick up a soda can and toss it halfway down the hall to distract an unsuspecting guard.

Where the questions and concerns come up with the PS2 version is how Ubi Montreal will manage to use the awesome lighting effects of the Xbox version and make it work on the PS2. More than most games, Splinter Cell uses lighting as a central focus of the gameplay, since many times you'll need to hide in the darkest of dark spots to avoid detection or to make a stealth kill. This also means that sometimes Sam has to shoot out the lights surrounding him ? the question as to whether or not this is fully possible on PS2 has yet to be seen (though parts of MGS2 you could shoot lights out and affect the rest of the area). The harsh truth is this?if Splinter Cell on PS2 can't completely replicate the effects, it just won't work the way it needs to work. Early screenshots show it working just fine, but the test will be when the game is in PS2's around the country in March.

Besides graphics, Splinter Cell is all about sound. Besides the cool Crystal Method soundtrack that plays different tunes depending on the situation (sneaking, evading, etc), the various noises in the game have all to do with surviving a level. Voices of soldiers, footsteps, even the sound of breaking glass or lights all affect the guards seeing you. Sam himself has to be exceptionally careful, since walking over broken glass quickly, or running across creaky wood will also tip off people who shouldn't see him. Needless to say, Splinter Cell requires some very intelligent stealth to survive the very challenging levels that are within it.

Final Thoughts
As someone who's played the Xbox version of Splinter Cell extensively, I must say that I'm curious as to how the PlayStation 2 version will turn out. Early returns show a game that will maintain most of the things that made the Xbox version great ? just running at lower details. As long as the gameplay itself is intact, and the lighting is done enough to be able to use it to your advantage (which is very important), there's no reason why Splinter Cell can't be as big a hit on PS2 as it was on Xbox. With the release of Splinter Cell just 2 months away, it won't be long before stealthy-types can save the world, Tom Clancy style.

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