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SummaryStealth James Bond
The GoodThis game deserves much more than a benefit of a doubt when it comes to the fact of being existent on multiple platforms. Why, you may ask, why is this one better than some Resident Evil or Final Fantasy game which exist on multiple platforms? Well, it's because the programming was made from scratch for each of the platforms, XBox, PC, PS2, etc. using the full advantage of the current platform. But since this review is based upon PS2 version, and since I haven't seen any other, don't expect to find here graphical or any other kind of comparisson to the other platforms. But as for the game on PS2, this game will give you what is promissed, no doubt about that.
I've heard a lot of good stuff about this game, Splinter Cell this, Splinter Cell that, and with such an aspect, I've come to disappoint myself. No, this is by no means a bad game, not at all. But what I expected is that it has the power to bury Metal Gear Solid 2 undoubtedly. It didn't take long enough to see how that is virtually impossible. This is a great game, but on the level of Half-Life. The gameplay is perfected with so much possibilities, but you will barely ever use the most fun ones, so no matter how many things your character is able to do, you will not get much of a chance to do them. However, the abilities and moves you can do are still long in minority when comparing to those of MGS2. As are weapons. But means and methods vary. Whereas in MGS2 you didn't get the chance to use dark places a lot, instead, you could hide in a locker or hang over the rail, in Splinter Cell you can literally be one step from an enemy soldier and if you're in a perfect dark, he will not see you. That is, if you're not moving too much, and don't make a sound louder than a silent footstep.
Textures in this game are very good, as is the graphic in general, and light effects, water, or fire are well done, but expect some real slowdown in a game when near the fire. That is kinda strange 'cos I didn't expect they can make a game for a console that would go slow. With PC it's understandable due to hardware you possess, but with consoles... oh well. Variety of weapons is at bare minimum, a silencer and a sniper are the only two you will use aside your mano-a-mano skills which aren't so plentiful as in MGS2.
You are playing Sam Fisher, a former CIA commando who's beein re-activated, and whose mission is to find out what happened to two of CIA agents with whom headquarters recently lost connection. The game starts with an easy plot which later evolves in a global war possible incident. Nuclear missiles, tricks of the government, raising an army, stealing top-secret government files, those are things you will have to confront and face with virtually no help but your own. It's up to the players virtue and tricks of trade that count in accomplishing each of the missions that stretch from Georgia to China.
Music is very ambience supportive and it will not take out the front scene or be distractive while you're playing, and sound in general (although not very versatile) are good enough. Nice thing that connects this game to Command & Conquer games by something they have in common is that there are pre-rendered FMVs in between each of the missions. Yup, gotta love it. However good they are, they are not as good as the wide-screen intro cinematic made specifically for PS2 version of the game with nice following orchestrated score specially for that intro.
I cannot say if previous versions on other platforms had extra contents included, but this game has many, from developer's interviews and making of documentaries, to review with Sam Fisher himself (Sam, as in main character of the game, that one is neatly done).
Another thing worth mentioning is that this game is much more realistic than Metal Gear Solid 2 to the point that your character moves relatively slower than Snake or Raiden from MGS2, and his moves aren't as stretchy and quick as they may appear at first. This may be a good point, but also gives a feeling of this game being kinda slow.
The BadAlthough very neatly done, this game doesn't rise up to the voice of the crowd as expected. As much as the music is nice enough, there isn't much of it in the game, and seems like it takes most parts in the cinematic themselves. But that doesn't make this game any less worthy (just think of Half-Life, and how much music that game had ;)
I haven't seen graphic on a PC verison nor XBox version of this game, but I don't doubt it looks much better, 'cos frankly, graphic in PS2 verison is very strong on the effects and surroundings account, but characters could've been better. Why I know they could've been better is 'cos I've seen how good MGS2 looks on PS2, and this game doesn't beat that.
Now a few words about an AI. Well, it is neatly thought of, and sometimes it seems that your foe is quite smart, wether he'll run off to sound the alarm or call for backup and then enter the room you're in, or wether he'll just duck behind some box waiting for you to pass the point you must, but then again, using constant phrases like "we got you surrounded" or such even though there's only one enemy I dunno wether to call bugs or did the developers made that on purpose as to try and deceive you. But AI isn't problem at all, the shooting is. Precise hit in the head will kill every enemy instantly, no doubt about it. But shoot him anywhere else, and it'll be like you lost your bullet in vain. Even if they all wear a bulletproof vests, shot in the leg or arm should have its impact. Also, seems like when you shoot someone, there is a short time when he recovers if not dead, and you can shoot him again until you whack him. However, if you're shooting in between the time ot your first shot and recovering, you'll have to shot more times to make a kill. Maybe it sounds silly the way I'm telling this, but it does look annoying when you can never be sure if you need to shoot more or not, and that may be important when you're low on bullets. And unlike the MGS2, you can't always shoot your way through, sometimes you simply must avoid conflicts of any kind.
The Bottom LineAll in one, I expected so much more from this game. However, the game itself was very entertaining and challenging, and giving you a solid info on whatever you wanted to do. But I can't help but to think of this game as if being made 13 years back. It kinda creates that feeling, just as Tzar, for example, creates similar feeling. But that only makes me like the game more, actually. Sort of, like adding a part of nostalgy to something which is completely new. I know, I know, sounds silly, but that's how I felt while playing it.
I too have an XBox so I could've get myself that version, or a PC one, but I ricked the graphic quality for more stuff like that completely new 4min long intro animation and some new levels or whatever. And I can't say I regretted it, duh, I never regret when it comes to games I have ;) But let's make one thing clear - this game can by no means match up to the standard that was set by Metal Gear Solid 2, story-wise, graphic-wise, gameplay-wise, music-wise, nor anyhow else. But that doesn't mean this game is anything less than good, it's just the fact that MGS2 is that good, that's all. Any fan of action-espionage and action-sneaking games should get both of them in the collection, no doubt of it.