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Game Profile
Ubisoft Montreal
GENRE: Action
April 11, 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

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent

More in this Series
 Written by Jeff Milligan  on July 23, 2003

Full Review: Ugh, I hate splinters. Not that they have anything to do with this game, but you know how it is.

If you think about recent action/adventure video games that have been released, chances are you're going to think about one man: Solid Snake. The Metal Gear series has redefined what espionage action really is, with a special thanks to the main man behind the game. However, another espionage series has thrown its cards onto the table, complete with its own tactical bad boy. The gaming series is none other than Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, and the new hero on the block goes by the name Sam Fisher.

The scenario mentioned above was pretty much the mind-set of gamers when Splinter Cell was originally released for Microsoft's Xbox. Since the games release almost a year ago, Sam Fisher and Splinter Cell as a whole have become nothing short of a household name to Xbox owners. Yet GameCube and Playstation 2 owners were left out of the loop, until now. With Splinter Cell now released for all 3 next-gen systems and the Game Boy Advance, everyone can finally see what the dilly really is.

Although a few things have been changed during the transition to the GC, the main story, characters, and overall gameplay experience remain untouched. Players still assume the role of Sam Fisher, ex-CIA operative, ex-Navy SEAL now working under the National Security Agency. Fisher is sent in by the Third Echelon, a top-secret initiative from the NSA, to locate agents in the former Soviet republic of Georgia that are MIA. Licensed to spy, steal, destroy and assassinate, Sam is nothing less than a one-man wrecking crew. However, this isn't the gameplan behind Splinter Cell.

Unlike that of the Metal Gear series, Splinter Cell is based primarily around stealth. Running rapidly in wide open areas will only accomplish one of two things: Sam getting killed or Sam's mission getting blown. Instead, Fisher must rely on darkness, objects, or whatever he can find to avoid being seen. Very rarely do players need to use Fisher's weapons to take out enemies, but at times they do come in handy. Since Sam relies so heavily on going undetected, he's going to need to take full advantage of 2 or 3 important tools. Actually, it's more like 8 or 9 important tools.

First things first, players are going to need to learn about what's going to be one of their best friends, night-vision. As was mentioned, Splinter Cell is based primarily around dark areas, and trying to view objects and enemies in the dark is folly. Instead, players can flick on the ol' night-vision goggles with the Z trigger. Another important set of tools in Splinter Cell are Sam's various weapons. Fisher comes equipped with an SC Pistol, capable of firing 5.72x28mm rounds, and is complete with a silencer to keep the game's stealth feel to a maximum. Although this is Sam's main weapon throughout the course of the game, Fisher can also pick up other useful weapons, such as the SC-20K M.A.W.S. (Modular Assault Weapons System), frag grenades, and gas grenades.

Sam also has to take full advantage of a few other helpful gadgets. A lot of missions in Splinter Cell require to Sam to open up locked doors, which obviously takes more than good looks to do. This is where Sam can use his lock-pick. By rotating the control stick players can find the weak spot of lock pins, and can release them by continually moving the control stick in the pins weak spot. Triggering all of the locks pins will unlock the door, and Sam can then proceed onward. However, you may not want to open that door too quickly. Remember, this is a game of stealth, and opening a door without knowing who or what is on the other side can blow your mission. This is where players can use Sam's optic cable system. This miniature camera can be slid through the locks of doors, and enables Sam to see what's on the other side. The optic cable system can even be used with night-vision, in case it's a tad dark on the other side.

Working for a top-secret operative and having the right to spy, steal, and destroy; it's pretty obvious that Sam is going to run into some resistance during his espionage action. Although, resistance can mean a number of different things. The first thing you're most likely to run into is enemy guard units. Usually these boys can be plain avoided by hiding in the shadows or by climbing over or around them. However, occasionally Sam will have to do a little dirty work and take them out. This is usually no big sweat, as guards are generally either by themselves or have only one partner. If you are going to take on guards, the one thing that you have to make sure of is that you take them out quickly. Enemy sentries have the ability to sound an alarm, and when that happens too many times, your mission is aborted.

The second level of resistance in Splinter Cell is mechanical enemies, the first of which being automated gun-turrets. These beasts are motion sensitive, and when activated are not very nice to deal with. The best way to handle turrets is by deactivating them via the computer system attached beside them. Turrets can also be tweaked by disabling their IFF system. Doing this will cause the turret to not only lock-on to and attack Fisher, but will also fire on nearby enemies. Disabling the IFF system can be beneficial, but only if you know what you're doing. The second mechanical enemy Sam has to deal with is the reliable surveillance camera. Again, these are not too big of a threat as Sam can either sneak by them or destroy them entirely. However, armored cameras are also present in some areas, which cannot be destroyed due to their bulletproof casing.

To help you deal with so many obstacles, Sam has been graced with the flexibility and skill of a Chinese acrobat. Using a number of different button combinations, Sam can jump, crouch, shimmy, climb, roll, and mantle objects. More advanced combinations allow Fisher to drop attack enemies, land quietly on the ground after jumping, spit jump in tight areas, wall jump to gain further airtime and distance, use humans as shields, and shoot around corners. Again, players should familiarize themselves with most of these commands, as many of them are used often. Luckily, players will have to go through a training area in the beginning of the game where all of Sam's moves are covered.

Taking a closer look at Sam's on-screen display, you'll see a variety a different objects, meters, and icons. First things first, we'll focus on Sam's life bar. To the far right of the screen, you can view Sam's total life. When Sam's life is depleted, the mission is over. Life can be replenished by using medical kits, which can be found in various locations throughout the game. Another important meter is located directly above Sam's currently equipped weapon. This horizontal bar is stealth meter, which indicates exactly how much light is being cast on Sam. The more light that's on Sam, the easier it is for enemies to spot him. This meter is extremely important when players are trying to dodge enemy guards and cameras. To the bottom right-hand corner of the screen is a box which shows Sam's current weapon. This box also indicates how much ammo is left, and the rate of fire for the weapon. You may also see 3 small icons show up directly above the stealth meter. These 3 icons represent new goals, new notes, and new recons respectively, and can all be viewed in the start menu.

Everything that has been mentioned thus far can be also found in the original Xbox version of the game. However, there are a few goodies that only GameCube owners will be able to take advantage of. The biggest of these new additions is the ability to link up a Game Boy Advance to the GameCube system, which enables a new feature. When a GBA is connected to the GameCube version of Splinter Cell, players will receive an advanced version of their OPSAT. This means a number of different things. First, players will be able to see various elements of their current location on the GBA screen. Scanning the area on the GBA will reveal many objects within the scanned area, including Sam, dead bodies, enemies, knocked out enemies, knocked out non-player characters, mines, cameras, turrets, and sticky bombs. This upgraded OPSAT system is a huge benefit to those who aren't familiar with or aren't all that great at espionage games. Secondly, the GBA connectivity enables players to remotely access several items, such as keypads, computers, and elevators. This method of interaction is much quicker, and more importantly, is much quieter. Thirdly, the GBA feature will allow players to deactivate and activate wall mines and fire sticky bombs as a secondary weapon. Both of these can play a large role while multiple enemies are present. The last feature the GBA brings to life is the deactivation of automated turrets. However, players can also remotely access the turret, and can then freely turn and fire the turret at will. This is one of my favorite new features to be added to the GameCube version of Splinter Cell. Other new additions include 30 minutes of new cinematics, and progressive scan capabilities.

Although Splinter Cell for the Xbox was an amazing gameplay experience, one of its other strong points was the awesome graphics engine behind the game. Although the GameCube hardware is slightly inferior to that of the Xbox, Splinter Cell is just as impressive as it originally was. There are some cases where the Xbox version shines above, but for the most part the GameCube version keeps up with it. Fisher and other characters are clearly defined, sporting rich textures and smooth actions. Environments are also crisp in detail, adding even more to an already tremendous game.

When Resident Evil was remade for the GameCube not too long ago, it featured some of the best lighting effects video games had ever seen. However, Splinter Cell may give it a good run for its money. Natural sunlight can be seen sliding through the smallest of cracks in walls, and is even scattered when shining through grated objects. Artificial light can also be strewn about when objects interfere with its path, casting shadows in different directions. Since hiding in shadows is a major part of the Splinter Cell experience, good lighting effects was a must-have, and Ubi Soft has passed with flying colors in that category.

When you're sneaking up on someone, sound is of extreme importance. The slightest crack or creak can alert your enemies and send them flying to the sound the alarm. This is why controlling your movement is vital in Splinter Cell. Thanks to the great sound effects system, players are going to have to rely on their own skill with the control stick to keep their volume down, not on the game itself.

Background music isn't all that noticeable most of the time during the game, but when it's present, it's tense. Unlocking that door or getting a clean shot on that soldier can be that much tougher when you've got tense music playing around you. Ubi has also made an awesome decision for Sam himself, with Michael Ironside voicing the main character. His deep and intimidating voice is just what a spy needs when he's interrogating an enemy to squeeze out important information.

With a total of 9 missions in Splinter Cell, players may be plugging away at it for some time. Each mission has a number of different objectives, and also contains quite a few spots where the game is saved mid-mission. You'll also come up on a number of different checkpoints during each mission, just in case you need a break before the job is complete. There are also a few added bonuses on the Splinter Cell disc, including a behind the scenes look at the game, and a few other cinematic surprises.

Bottom Line
Alright, so you've read all about how Splinter Cell on the GameCube functions and plays, yay. The only question that's really important is ?Is Splinter Cell on the GameCube as good as it was on the Xbox?? The simple answer is yes. In fact, some may even make the argument that the GameCube version is superior due to the extra features included, especially that of the GBA connectivity. There's really nothing more you need to know, so go out and buy it already.

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