Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Review

Tom Clancy games are known for their realistic approach to combat, with one well-placed shot being enough to kill you.  Splinter Cell departs from this style in that you are actually given a health bar.  Injuries do not have a harmful effect on you outside of bringing you closer to death, and you can actually restore your health with medical kits.  While this may seem blasphemous for a Tom Clancy game, it does not detract from the game's realism too much.  In fact, it is probably a good thing that the game provides health-restoring medical kits as without them the game would be brutally hard.  The AI in the game is excellent, and if you screw up you'll pay for it.  Give a guard a chance to raise the alarm and you've had it.  Individual guards and civilians populate the levels, going about their business and carrying on conversations as long as they don't realize that you are there.  They'll react to noises and suspicious activity, either coming to investigate or running for backup.  The game does an excellent job of conveying the sense that you are in real-world, living locations.  For example, if you do a poor job of hiding a body in the early part of a mission, it can come back to haunt you if discovered later in the form of the sounding of an alarm or in a heightened state of awareness to your presence.  You have to be on your toes throughout the entire mission and careful to make it seem that you were never there.

Screenshots
Night vision is useful when hanging around oil platforms.

Not surprisingly, light and sound pay a huge role in how aware your enemies are of your presence.  The game provides a detection meter that gives you an idea of how visible you are, but in practice it is not really needed.  The game's lighting effects are so well done that you will always be able to tell when you are in the shadows and when you're not.  In fact, some of the lighting effects are quite simply amazing.  If you sneak behind a trellis, you'll actually be able to see the individual beams of light coming through the holes and lighting up the dust in the air.  Hit a hanging lamp and you can watch its cone of light bounce around the room.  Sunlight through vertical blinds, the soft glow of computer monitors, light diffused through hanging plastic room dividers ... the incredible lighting effects are simply too numerous to mention.  You just really have to see this game for yourself.

The sound in the game is also phenomenal.  The sound is so well done that you can sit still and listen, and you'll be able to tell the direction that guards' footsteps are coming from and whether or not they are coming towards you.  If you toss a can or bottle, it sounds like aluminum or glass should sound and you can hear every bounce before it comes to a rest.  Even different surfaces have different acoustics.  You'll know if you are walking on broken glass, wood, concrete, or carpet without ever having to look at your feet.  Oh, and the music is pretty darn good too.  The soundtrack was done by Crystal method, and has a very good techno, espionage sound to it.

More than likely you will love this game, but you'll need a computer that can handle it.  All of the graphical goodness comes at the cost of a recommended 1 GHz + processor and 64 MB video card.  You might not enjoy the game if you prefer action games that provide plenty of super-destructive weapons and reward kamikaze, head-on attacks.  Tactics effective in those types of games just won't work in Splinter Cell, and so you may find it to be frustrating or even boring.  The rest of you out there who enjoy a challenge and want a game that will keep you glued to your keyboard for quite a while, do a very un-Sam Fisher like maneuver and go running down to your favorite store to buy this game.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 96%.  Without a doubt, Splinter Cell has set the standard by which future stealth action games will be judged.  Zip line into your favorite store and buy this game.

System Requirements:  Pentium III 800;  256 MB RAM;  32 MB Video RAM; 8x CD-ROM;  1.5 GB Hard Drive Space;  Mouse.

 



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