What can you say about this game when there’s been so much written about its prequels? Not a huge amount has changed with this winning formula, but there’s a lot more new additions than in the previous sequels.
When you get down to it, Splinter Cell is all about logic puzzles. There’s a mapped area with multiple objects in predetermined paths moving around inside it, there are also parts of that area you deliberately need to avoid. Put all this together and what you need to do is analyse the surroundings and patterns, definte a strategy, and execute it.
Well that’s sure the game for me. There are others who will race through, use their weapons as much as possible, but for me it’s about a few simple rules.
- Never get seen
- Knockout everyone
So what happens when I play as per the above rules, is a level which is small and takes a lot of people minutes to complete takes me between an hour and two to get through with almost maximum percentages each time. Oh yes, I’m playing on the hard level right now. When it’s done I’ll be on the hardest level.
So how does this one compare? Well in the others the exposition and overall plot were much stronger. Here I found I didn’t really get what the story was until four or five levels into the game. Even now it hasn’t engaged me as much and I don’t feel drawn in the same way as I have with the previous.
The gameplay is much better though with some new moves added allowing you to knock out or kill each enemy, and even do this while hanging above them. There’s a lot more design with the levels being on multiple levels of height, and this does stretch gameplay, even though the levels can be quite short.
All the old gadgets are there, and some new ones too, the ability of the pistol to disrupt electrical fields is a godsend for creating distractions on simply killing light sources for a few moments without permanent affect. This is particularly handy as the AI of the enemy is heavily increased, ensuring that they investigate a switched off light, the slightest noise or even a movement in the pitch blackness.
There’s no doubt that at times it’s much harder than before overall, but the inconsistencies of the difficulty level are still an apparent problem. One level may be really hard and then the next quite easy, where you knock out everyone and complete all objectives without breaking a sweat…a virtual sweat that is. Perhaps this is to give the player a brief respite and not to bore them with the traditional increase in level difficulty as they progress.
Still, with my style of playing it didn’t take particularly cause me an issue. Even on the easy levels I would try and clear out all the enemies before ending the mission.
The visuals and variety of the level locations has increased and noticeably so. There’s really been a bit of work in these areas to hide the feeling of repetativeness, and make you want to look around a level and soak up the surroundings. Not just tear through it with your night vision.
The combined gameplay, increased visual effects and overall style has been enough to steal me away from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and ensure that I’ll play the whole game again on the next level, something I’ve not been able to find the desire to do on the prequels.
One feature I haven’t engaged in is the online play, and this is where the game fails for me. I think the warning at the beginning of the game says it all which says something along the lines of “the nature of the gameplay may change during online play”. Oh yes, the last Splinter Cell I played was a mad dash about, people racing all over, mad shooting and throwing of grenades. Not so much stealth as a race for the objective by all concerned, spies and guards alike.
For me, ignoring the online play, this is the best Splinter Cell game to date. Certainly there’s still much room for improvement, but perhaps we’ll see that in the next outing, once Sam Fisher has made it to the big screen.