Announced as the MGS Killer, our expectations were high around Ubi Soft's game Splinter Cell based around Tom Clancy's books. We could imagine the happy loving and caring employees of Ubi Soft Montreal putting all thier efforts (despite the cold weather) into that game...but i'm getting lost here.
Would thier game that they announced as the highly acclaimed Metal Gear Solid killer be able to deliver what they promised?Lights on!
First thing we notice when we light up the game are the impressive graphisms. The textures and the models are of extremely good quality, but the most stunning point of Splinter Cell is it's lightning.
The shadows are simply amazing, it's hard to describe it, you can see obviously that the developers putted a lot of work in making these shadow effects. Almost everything that is in the path of a light source has its shadow cast realistically: a light is in front of somebody? You'll see his shadow casted on the ground, and on the wall behind him. A light behind a fence? Well there you go, you'll see your fence's shadow wherever it should be, and you'll see the thin light rays coming-out of it's holes.
Let's just say one thing: graphisms in Splinter Cell are extremely good.
But the game also has impressive physics: just thought flags or any soft thing to see it: Instead of simply going trough the object or simply stopping at it, you'll see it wrapping around Sam's (the hero) body (no bad jokes here
) very realistically. Also: you see an aquarium and you feel a little sadistic, no problem, just shoot the aquarium and the water will fall from it in a very "close to real" way (before shooting it you'll note how light is beautifully rendered when passing trought water as well
). Last example of the physic: take a
The animations, do they look crappy? No they don't! Even though they look less impressive for the NPCs, Sam does every movement smoothly, and he's got an animation for every different situation. Only thing that looks a bit out is when a character is in stairs. Instead of looking like he is actually doing that, he'll look like if he's walking normally on it, even though it's not very noticeable.Simon says jump! Simon says crouch!
Sure being able to do a lot of fancy movements is nice, but it's no use if the control scheme is crappy. Well this is the second major point of Splinter Cell: its gameplay.
The controls are so well thought that you can do every complicated actions without thinking much, it becomes almost natural. This makes it possible for the game to have a variety of complicated situations, that you can resolve very easily and naturally.
In the first part i have talked a lot about light, well there is a reason why the devs putted so much emphasis on lightning: Splinter Cell is an infiltration game, where you have to not be seen, and hiding in the dark is usually a way to achieve this (not making any sound helps too btw). You'll find yourself constantly seeking for dark spots, hiding in the shadows, closing lights (or shooting them out
), you'll almost develop an aversion to light. He-LLO
The music in Splinter Cell is clearly not the major feature here, not that i mean that it is bad, it is very good, but it remains in the background, it is quite discreet and sets well the mood: it contributes greatly to the ambience.
Also, the music changes when something happens, for example: you are hiding around minding your own buisness, the music is calm somewhat stressing, suddenly you make a stupid noise, a chime indicates that an enemy is investigating, the music becomes extremely stressing, but still slow, then suddenly the guard sees you, the music changes accordingly, it becomes panicked....until you escape, then it becomes calm again. (see? Fun)
Sound Effects are good. You can hear the footsteps of people around you, gun-fire, cameras, doors , leprechaun.....etc.. You can really enjoy them if you have a surround system as you guess the location of every sound that you hear.
Voice acting though is really fantastic. Also if you have the French version, the actor who plays Sam is none other than the official dubber of our favourite Terminator.Ending thoughts
Splinter Cell is an extremely good game with extremely good graphics, gameplay, and sound. You see games like this once or twice during a console life-span. It is truly a must-buy