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Game Profile
Game Boy
Ubisoft Montreal
GENRE: Action
July 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

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent

More in this Series
 Written by Jeff Milligan  on July 09, 2003

Review: Portable Espionage Action?yummy

If you've been paying attention to the console gaming world throughout the past year or so, chances are you've heard of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell for the Xbox. Voted as game of the year on quite a number of gaming web-sites and magazines, Splinter Cell has become one of the best games Xbox owners can obtain. To share the love with other gamers, Ubi Soft has now developed the game for the GameCube, Playstation 2, and even the Game Boy Advance. With having such limited hardware capabilities, Splinter Cell as we know it on the Xbox obviously isn't going to run on the GBA. However, what Ubi Soft has done is create a new gameplay system for the GBA version, encompassing the storyline, characters, and environments from the original Xbox version.

In the Game Boy Advance version, players once again assume the role of Sam Fisher, a Splinter Cell operative deployed from the NSA's secret sub-agency, The Third Echelon. Sam's mission begins when he is sent to the former Soviet Union to recover two missing CIA agents, but he soon finds there is a much larger conspiracy involved, one that could destroy world order, and even spark nuclear conflict. As was mentioned, this is the same storyline behind the other console versions of Splinter Cell.

The gameplay system behind the GBA Splinter Cell is where this version takes a different turn. Instead of utilizing the fully 3D worlds and characters the original Splinter Cell had, the GBA version is completely done in 2D as a side-scroller. You may think that this might destroy how Splinter Cell was designed to be played, but in reality there's very little players cannot do in the GBA version that they could in the console versions. Sam's incredible acrobatic skills are all still intact, which means he is still able to strafe, crawl, climb, jump, hang, and tangle with enemies. Sam also can take advantage of a few weapons, including a pistol loaded with tranquilizer rounds and smoke grenades. Ammunition can be found lying on the ground in certain areas, however most of the time it's obtained in safes. Sam once again shows his espionage skills here, except this time as a lock-pick. Players will be given a certain amount of time in which to pick the safe locks (usually by rotating gears or triggering tumblers) before a booby-trap goes off and Sam is injured. Other objects such as doors may also require to be unlocked using this method as well.

Besides having Sam and the rest of the action going on, the on-screen display also shows a few important meters and gauges. The top left of the GBA screen shows your current weapon and how many rounds are left and the top right shows your current life amount. However, since Splinter Cell is primarily based on stealth, players will also need to know how much activity is going on around them. This is where the ?risk meter? comes in handy. At the bottom left-hand side of the screen, players will be able to read this special meter, which shows how much risk Sam is facing at his current position. The more guards, security cameras, and gun turrets are around, the higher the level on the risk meter. When the risk meter is fully charged, it would be wise for players to sit back and use Sam's sticky camera, which allows Sam to zoom around and look at his nearby surroundings.

As was mentioned, Splinter Cell GBA is done in complete 2D as a side-scroller, and it pulls it off very well. The one thing that could have been improved however is enemy A.I. Normally, enemies will spot you if you are directly in front of them. The easiest way Sam can avoid being spotted is by hiding in the shadows in wall crevices, but you can also avoid detection by staying a certain amount of distance away from enemies. Even when Sam and the enemy are both visable on the screen, the enemy will not spot Sam if he is far enough away, even if the enemy is looking in that direction. I don't know if these guys are near-sighted or what, but it's pretty weird when an enemy is looking directly at you and doesn't do anything about it.

Besides having the normal 11 full missions, Splinter Cell also has a few mini-missions within. These include things like chasing down enemies, snapping photographs of suspects, and even sniping down a few baddies. Although this only happens 4 or 5 times throughout the entire game, it does offer players a bit of variety in case they get bored of the usual run-shoot-rescue type of level.

Graphically, Splinter Cell makes good use of the Game Boy Advance's limited hardware capabilities. Both background and foreground items are very well detailed and animated, which is often something overlooked by action games. Characters and enemies are also well drawn, and really add to the overall professional style to the game. As far as sound goes, the audio department doesn't really play a huge role in this production. Sound effects are relatively scarce, and background music is very linear. When background music is played however, it does contribute to the overall tense feel of the game. Music is however looped over and over throughout levels, and gets quite redundant.

Bottom Line
Splinter Cell on the Game Boy Advance isn't going to win game of the year anytime soon like its console predecessor did. However, this isn't to say that Splinter Cell GBA is a bad game. On the contrary, Splinter Cell is one of the best action games released for the GBA to date, and should definitely be looked into by fans of the console versions. Even if you never had a chance to play the console version of Splinter Cell, don't pass by the GBA version without at least giving it a rental.

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