Splinter Cell Trilogy HD Review

Chaos Theory is the highlight of the three single-player campaigns in Splinter Cell Trilogy HD, but technical issues and the absence of multiplayer really disappoint.

UK REVIEW--It has been nine years since special operations agent Sam Fisher burst onto the scene. The gravelly-voiced star of the Splinter Cell series has enjoyed critical and commercial success, shifting from silent and steady in the original game to fast and unrelenting in last year's Conviction. This pack of his first three games includes HD versions of the first game and the sequels Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory, chronicling Fisher's penchant for slow and methodical espionage. Sadly, though, poor optimisation and the disappointing absence of the series' heralded multiplayer components prevent the package from hitting the mark.

The most recent game in this compilation, 2005's Chaos Theory, is the standout of the three included. In contrast to its predecessors, it gives you much more freedom to maneuver around locales, and the greater leniency with regard to being spotted reduces the amount of trial and error that earlier games have sometimes been derided for. The open-ended map design encourages you to creatively use the wide array of gadgets available to you and does so without ever forcing you into any one particular style. As a result, this prevailing sense of tactical choice creates some fantastically tense moments of stealth, whether you're planting an explosive wall mine along the path of a nearby guard or simply avoiding physical contact with the enemy. Dragging someone over the railing of an apartment balcony or making good use of Sam's powerful shotgun attachment on his SC-20K assault rifle are just two gratifying measures you can undertake, and you can get away with doing just about anything as long as you can keep your distance from those hunting you down. Regardless of the method you choose, however, maintaining your invisibility and sneaking off without raising suspicion tends to be the most enjoyable way to play.

Sam's handy combat knife also lets you dispatch enemies in a quick and efficient manner, and each level contains contextual spots where thin materials--such as tents or hanging tarpaulins--can be cut through to gain entry to secluded areas and alternative routes. This is but one way in which the more expansive nature of Chaos Theory really shines, as doing so also highlights the whereabouts of secondary objectives that you may otherwise never discover.

The cinematics have sadly not received a good HD makeover.

By comparison, both the original Splinter Cell and Pandora Tomorrow suffer from being too restrictive: levels tunnel you from point A to point B in an overly linear fashion, and the AI's unwavering ability to read your slightest movements and detect your position means the experience boils down to merely learning their walking patterns. Chaos Theory also has these issues, but the AI's awareness of your exact position is never as unfair.

Several years after Chaos Theory's release, the visuals still hold up well to today's standards. The game runs on an upgraded version of the same engine found in the original and in Pandora Tomorrow, featuring superior detail in environments as well as the inclusion of rag-doll physics. In general, everything looks a lot sharper: each location is punctuated by subtle graphical flourishes: shadows strike beautifully against walls amid the dimly lit environments, and there are plenty of small yet appreciable details throughout all corners of the game.

Not only do the original game and Pandora Tomorrow look flat by comparison, but they also suffer from technical issues that Chaos Theory does not. The frame rate in both games bogs down to an almost unplayable state when there are an abundance of lighting effects onscreen, and both are plagued with random freezing problems that can be remedied only by a console reboot. Cutscenes across all three games have also been roughly upscaled to HD resolutions, and some of the in-game audio in the original and Pandora Tomorrow sounds strangely tinny. Thankfully, the gravelly voice acting of Michael Ironside as Sam Fisher is still a joy to listen to no matter which game you're playing, although the dialogue between Fisher and supporting characters is a little hit-and-miss.

Sam Fisher's original games certainly look better in HD, but sadly at the cost of performance.

The most lamentable part of this package is that the online adversarial modes of both Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory are missing. The innovative Spies vs. Mercenaries multiplayer mode would make the overall package a lot more appealing, but unfortunately, only the single-player portions appear. Not even Chaos Theory's excellent co-op mode has found a home here.

Both the original Splinter Cell and Pandora Tomorrow have their merits if you're looking for a trip down memory lane, but their structural approaches to the stealth genre are redundant now in the face of advancements in the genre. If you have the desire to play only one Splinter Cell game, then make sure it is Chaos Theory: it contains the most satisfying advancements the series has ever had to offer and executes the stealth-action concept so well that, in a historical sense, it practically makes the previous two entries null and void. Thankfully, all three games are available to download separately on the PlayStation Network, which makes Splinter Cell Trilogy an even less appealing package.

The Good
The open-ended levels and fun abilities of Chaos Theory hold up well
Chaos Theory is still visually impressive
The Bad
Frame-rate issues in Splinter Cell and Pandora Tomorrow
Gameplay systems in Splinter Cell and Pandora Tomorrow are rote
No multiplayer
Occasional freezing
6
Fair
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14 comments
Ultra_Taco
Ultra_Taco

I'm confused as to why it has been only released for PS3..... All of the SC games have been released on Xbox as well

Sokol4ever
Sokol4ever

I'm currently playing the first game and while some of the complains are valid, like not non-upgraded cinematic, other issues are blown out of proportion.

A 6.0? Very underrated, I respected the reviewer opinion however I disagree with the score, a 7.5-8.0 for the first HD title.

Original three games were all about stealth and require patience.

Granpire
Granpire

Chaos Theory is, hands down, the best stealth game ever released, in terms of pure gameplay. Everything in that game was nearly perfect.

awheaten
awheaten

My thoughts: Now I haven't played this game all the way through, but there is some merit to the slow down in the first game. And when I played this game, I was expecting graphics that were atleast on par with Metal Gear 2. To my suprise, the graphics in this game are pretty bad considering the class this game was thrown in when this game came out. This site in particular herald this game better than MGS2. Then when part 2 came out, it said that it was better than MGS3. I haven't played part 2 yet, but I will be very perplexed if I see the same results. To make it even worst, this game is HD, and to me, this still doesn't look better than MGS2 and 3.

RageQuitter69
RageQuitter69

If call of duty never came out, Gamespot would not be complaining about multiplayer. It can't really be expected of Ubisoft to put up multiplayer servers for old, last generation classics. I personally love that there is no multiplayer, it lets the great single player shine, too many games these days focus too much on multiplayer and not enough on singleplayer, *cough* Call of Duty *cough*.

constantterror
constantterror

What a clueless reviewer the single player was the best part of splinter cell period.

ps3gameplayer
ps3gameplayer

A 6.0 is way to harsh (9.5 for me), these frame-rate you speak about are non-existent and for god sake, not every game needs multiplayer like your precious Call of Duty, Ubisoft announced there would be no multiplayer anyway.

ps3gameplayer
ps3gameplayer

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

IrishSJ23
IrishSJ23

Spies Vs Mercs was the best multi ever and plenty of people played it and loved it

ps3gameplayer
ps3gameplayer

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Black_Knight_00
Black_Knight_00

I don't know what this guy is thinking, 6.0? These are three of the best games ever made. Who cares about multiplayer, no one played it even when it was new.

SergioMX
SergioMX

 @RageQuitter69  The multiplayer modes were actually quite awesome too, so of course that would be a complaint.

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

 @RageQuitter69 actually they are complaining because chaos theory and pandora tomorrow had mp modes...

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Classic Trilogy HD More Info

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    Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Classic Trilogy HD includes Splinter Cell, Splinter Cell Pandora, and Splinter Cell Chaos Theory.
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