Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Review


Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell has appeared on all three next-gen home systems and on the PC.  Each version of the game can be counted among the top games of the year for each system thanks to its intriguing storyline, challenging stealth-based gameplay, and cutting-edge graphics.  Now the game has gone portable with its appearance on the Game Boy Advance.  The move to the handheld system is probably the biggest challenge yet faced by the game's hero, Sam Fisher, as the GBA doesn't have nearly as much horsepower as its console cousins.  While it can not compare to the other versions of the game, the result is a game that is not bad in its own right.

Screenshots
Sam sneaks in.

Splinter Cell follows the same storyline as the console versions of the game, so if you played one of them it will be familiar to you.  Sam Fisher is a highly trained covert operative belonging to a top secret US intelligence service.  He is called upon for the most sensitive of missions that require infiltrating enemy installations located in the heart of hostile territory.  He always acts alone, and if he does his job right the enemy will never he know he was there.  Should he be detected he runs the risk of quickly being captured or killed and the US government will disavow all knowledge of him or his mission.  The game opens in the near future with the disappearance of two CIA agents on assignment in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.  As Sam's mission unfolds, he will find himself traveling to locations around the world as he tries to thwart the plans of a power mad would-be dictator.

Splinter Cell's level's are mostly 2D side-scroller affairs in which your main goal is to avoid detection by the patrolling guards and soldiers and the video surveillance cameras.  To help you avoid detection, Sam has a number of special moves in his repertoire.  He can crouch behind obstacles and duck into dark doorways to stay out of sight.  His is also quite athletic, and can hang from and climb pipes, railings, and ledges, allowing him to stay above the line of sight or drop down or climb up to another level.  Pressing the right shoulder trigger will engage a sticky cam, a remote viewing device that will allow Sam to look at the surrounding area (including through walls, floors, and ceilings) to locate patrols in the area.  The camera will also show the cones of vision for any nearby cameras allowing you to time your movements past them and remain undetected.  Sam can also knock out guards by hitting them from behind, and in a real pinch use his silenced pistol to take them out.  Your ammo is extremely limited though, so the gun is really a tool of last resort.

Should you be detected by a guard or camera you'll have to act fast or you'll find your mission coming to a premature end.  Guards will attack you and shoot first before bothering to ask questions.  Civilians and cameras will set off alarm sirens, bringing in reinforcements and starting a countdown timer.  If you can get to an alarm switch before the timer expires you can shut off the alarm.  If you fail to do so the mission will end in failure.  Once an alarm is shut off everyone seems to forget that they just experienced a security breach and everything returns to normal.  Your score at the end of a mission is based partially on the number of alarms sounded, so it's best to avoid doing so even if you find it easy to disable the alarms on a level.