Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Review

So here we are getting to what may be looked back upon one day soon as the final cycle of this generation of Xbox games. Soon the Xbox 360, or whatever the final name, will be grabbing all the headlines and wowing us all with its golly-gee high definition graphics. And I am looking forward to those games. Yet I am marveling at how good the current games on the Xbox are right now. It seems to me that there is still a ton of life left in the ole Box and my proof of this is Tom Clancyís Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (CT) brought to us by the nice people over at Ubisoft. If this was one of the release titles for the 360 we would all be very impressed and be calling it one of the best launch titles for any system. But, hang on, you can play this sucker right now! Heck, Iím getting hounded by my editor to stop playing it long enough to write the review! So here I am putting down my weapon, well at least my controller, and trying to put into words why this game is so enjoyable...

Screenshots
Death from not so far above.

While I think it almost insulting to explain to you my gentle reader the basics of the Splinter Cell series, because I know that no self respecting gamer would not be acutely aware of these gems, I must for those among you that are new to gaming. Itís nothing to be ashamed of, we were all new at one time. So hereís a quick summary of what to expect. Chaos Theory is a third person stealth action game, well mostly...the online mode can put you into first person, but weíll cover that in a bit. Weíll focus on the single player mode first. You play as Sam Fisher who is a field operative, or Splinter Cell, for a very secret U.S. government agency call Third Echelon. These are the guys that do the things that we never hear about but have huge effect on the overall safety in the world. They want to keep the lowest profile possible and would rather no one know that they were even at a certain place. Thatís where the stealth part comes in and as Sam you are one of the best. You use cool gadgets, shadows, and sometimes force to achieve your mission goals. Sam may be by himself while on a mission but he is not alone as there are others at Third Echelon that provide Sam with information throughout the game.

The story involves a slightly confusing situation revolving around North Korea and China where they are blockading shipments to Japan in retaliation for Japans creation of an Information Self-Defense Force. Through this Force Japan has learned that a huge collapse of their economy may have been a deliberate attack. The story continues but honestly you are not playing a Splinter Cell game for itís storyline. The true fun here is doing something like hanging upside down from a pipe and breaking a bad guyís neck as he walks under you. By the way, thatís a new move for the series. There are several new additions this time around. Maybe the biggest is the simple addition of giving Sam a knife. Itís kind of strange when you think about it, but why hasnít he always had one? Whatever the reason he has it now and this allows Sam to provide a rather nasty new way to kill. You can also use your new toy to cut through different materials, like the rice paper walls in Japan, and snag a dude on the other side. This might not sound all that special, but darn is it cool to do! Or if the door is a regular door you can now do a door bash where you smash in the door and this can take out the person on the other side. It makes a lot of noise, but can do the job if thereís only person in the room. One move that is not in CT that made itís debut in Pandora Tomorrow is the SWAT turn. Honestly I didnít use it that much so itís not that missed. I am a little surprised that there isnít any type of tutorial to help new players learn the game. There are a few videos that allow you to see what to do but I think it would have been nice to at least have the option to do a little training before you start the missions. That said there are hints throughout the first level as what to do, but new gamers to the series may be a little nervous at first. I really liked the new function for your pistol where you can fire a small EMP bust that briefly disables electronic items, like light bulbs, in an area. Very cool.