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SummaryHmm. Where did the fun go?
The GoodOnce again, mutant weirdo communists are planning to fob off the free world and give everyone a hard time, and of course the Incredibly Secret Agency dispatches black ops ninja Sam Fisher to cash in^W^Wsort things out. Splinter Cell has me torn; while I love sneaky bits, I'm honestly worried about computer games being used to promote the convenient fiction that "covert ops" are efficient means to an end.
Then again, that's hardly a concern this time around, since the story is so bland, it slips the mind almost the moment it enters. A little trivia game for those of you who have completed it. Try to discern the real story from the permutations of: charismatic guerrilla leader / Polynesian dictator / CIA agent gone bad ... steals French brains / severs diplomatic relations with the US / threatens biological warfare ...to: weird everyone out and give them a bad time / take revenge / extort a meeellion dollars / all of the above. You get the idea.
So how's the gameplay? Well, it's, erm, more of the same. Which should be good enough for when you're bored.
The BadBut for some reason, it's not. It's strange really: this game has more variety and color to it than the first, it pulls several gameplay twists from the very beginning... and yet, it bored me. There seems to be something ineffable missing. I suppose we'd better find out what it is, for the sake of science.
The music is improved, for one thing; it's not particularly memorable, but it fills in the background pleasantly enough - though the upbeat techno for when you're discovered is a bit out of place, well, you're not supposed to be discovered in the first place. The cutscenes, though, are freaky, with everything and everyone gleaming radiantly like they've been substituting uranium for sugar in their coffee.
I suppose what it comes down to is, it feels like the developers are just going down a list of bullet points: puzzle involving infrared, check. Section with searchlights, check. Exploit some gadget, check. Advance plot the requisite amount, check. There's no zing to it. The whole game is like an actor who says his lines too fast, giving the impression he wants nothing more than to have said his lines and get off the stage.
The final nail in the coffin is the outdoor mission at sunset, which looks impressive but is a nightmare to play because the shadows give little indication of how well hidden you are. Blech.