Platform: Xbox 360 (also for Xbox, PS2, and PC)
Rating: M for Blood, Language, Violence
It is the year 2008. Once, Sam Fisher was an agent of Third Echelon, assigned to infiltrate strongholds belonging to enemies of National Security, gather information, and, where necessary, use his training to neutralize those enemies. But times are changing. America’s enemies are looking at new options, finding ways to make themselves more deadly. In order to stay one step ahead of its targets, Third Echelon is also changing, although Colonel Irving Lambert and Assistant Director Williams may be trying to steer in two different directions. And while Sam Fisher’s foes are evolving and his allies are in flux, very soon Fisher’s own life is also going to undergo a dramatic and permanent change. And once that happens, nothing will ever be the same again. With his life turned upside down, Sam Fisher is on a new mission unlike any he has ever been sent on before. Where he used to penetrate defenses and gather information from the outside, now he’s on the inside, working with those he’s sworn to destroy and finding enemies among his allies. He’s risking everything for the sake of the greater good, even if it costs him his identity – or his life. (from the manual)
Once again you play from the third person perspective of Sam Fisher, a Third Echelon spy who is fifty-one years of age. Sam Fisher is highly trained in high-risk espionage missions. He acts in stealth and is sent to find certain information as his goals. Sam carries both a silenced pistol and a silenced SC-20k machine gun/sniper rifle, but in certain levels Sam is unarmed and must find weapons. Unlike before, when stealth was your top priority, your top priority is to not blow your cover while still acting for the NSA. This new installment in the acclaimed series features an rpg-like gameplay, as you must make decisions throughout the game, whether or not to shoot the hostage, etc. The game includes a “meter” in the HUD that displays the amount of trust from the NSA and the terrorist organization Sam now works for. The game includes several missions that take place all around the world, including in the United States. Sam has to hack computers, steal items, and interrogate certain people he runs into. Sam must avoid alerts at all possible. After an alarm your enemies just become smarter and more difficult, and you can lose trust within either, (or sometimes both) of the two organizations that control Sam’s life. EMF vision is still in the game, (a new installment since Chaos Theory), though this time there are many levels where Sam does not have his multi-vision goggles. This game has huge replay value, because of the rpg-like gameplay, there is multiple branches of the storyline and multiple light/dark endings. Kudos to Ubisoft and Tom Clancy for the replay value.
Your enemies are constantly changing, and your allies are your enemies, and your enemies are your allies, or at least that’s how the game feels. Security guards and soldiers are your immediate enemies, as always. It should be noted that you will find yourself pulling out your gun and shooting enemies quite a bit during the game. You do have the option of rendering your enemies unconscious instead of killing them, but it is impossible to complete the entire game without killing enemies.
There are two kinds of multiplayer in this game, Co-op and spies vs. mercenaries. The Co-op is not the single player storyline, but is totally different. Two-team members use teamwork to accomplish missions. Because of the nature of Co-op, it would be almost impossible for a single splinter cell to complete the missions. The Spies vs. Mercenaries is just as it sounds. Mercenaries protect a drug or item, and the spies have to get past them to acquire the drug/item. Multiplayer is pretty fun, but Ubisoft has “downgraded” everything since Chaos Theory. Everything is much simpler, and while it is still enjoyable, Chaos Theory and Pandora Tomorrow are better in my opinion. There is also a lot of cursing in the multiplayer.
The graphics in this game are unparalleled, and how Ubisoft can figure it out in one year but it takes Bungie three years is a mystery to me. Game play graphics are rich in detail, and Sam Fisher\'s character will stun you with how detailed his uniform is. During game play Ubisoft has everything upgraded since Chaos Theory, so I say the graphics are as close to perfect as it can get. The cinematic graphics are even better, and detail is huge. I mean extreme detail, wrinkles on faces, grayish streaks in hair, the whole package. The graphics are mind blowing. Very important for a Splinter Cell game, and since this is the fourth installment Ubisoft has all the realistic details well figured out. Shadows are in very realistic settings, and you have to hide deep in the shadows to avoid detection. All the shadows may hurt your eyes when playing the game for extended amounts of time though, but otherwise excellent.
This is also very important aspect of the game; it has a huge impact on the game itself as well as being terrific. The sound effects are perfect for walking on glass, blowing out a candle, footsteps, etc. The overall quality is amazing, especially for the voice acting, the actors make their character’s emotions and personality traits. The music is very fitting, when the character makes a mistake the music is very good and creates a suspense feeling in your gut. The overall quality of the music is excellent and it definitely enhances the mood of the game.
The game handles very well and the controls are easy to grasp for beginners. The menus are well done and easy to navigate, and the looks of the menus are done very well. I never came across any glitches or freezes at any point of the game.
The game is rated mature for blood, language, and violence. Small red blotches of blood can be seen every now and then, but there really is none at all. Dead/Unconscious bodies do not disappear, as a very big part of the game is to hide these bodies so your character will not be detected. Swear words have been used much like that in Chaos Theory, and include basically everything from a PG-13 movie except no f-bombs. The Lords name is taken in vain a few times, mostly GD and misuses of the word ‘Christ’. In some levels it is better to kill enemies than knock them out (because enemies can awaken unconscious enemies if they come across them) and this should be taken into thought when deciding to play the game. Though in this game you get a higher mission score the less fatalities you cause. The rating on the game has been for ‘Language’ instead of the ‘Strong Language’ rating on Chaos Theory, and I approve of the lesser rating, though the language still exists in the game. This game revolves around making decisions from the two factions in the game, and there is many temptations on whether or not to do what is right or what is easier. The game shows consequences of actions, which earns the game brownie points (yum).
The game should be extremely easy to find, and the prices should be fairly reasonable, with the exception that you want the Xbox-360 version, then there are NO fair prices.
This is definitely my favorite of all the available Splinter Cell games. With the way the different endings play out, it is difficult to tell how Ubisoft will make the inevitable sequel, the storyline might be a little warped. Nevertheless, the way the game plays out will leave you gasping to more. What is to become of our beloved Sam Fisher? We will all just have to wait and see…