Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Review
Strictly on its own merits, this version is an altogether unimpressive action adventure that still smacks of being a watered-down port of a technically superior game.
- Improved, more open-ended single-player campaign
- New cooperative mode offers some unique thrills.
- Shoddy frame rate and dismally dark graphics
- Co-op mode limited to split-screen
- Campaign and co-op missions torn into bite-sized chunks
- No versus multiplayer
- Various noticeable glitches.
The third iteration of the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell stealth action franchise features the continuing adventures of Sam Fisher, a top secret agent who's sent in to accomplish the US government's dirty work when political situations go sour. It's also got a brand-new two-player cooperative mode in which a pair of spies work their way through dangerous assignments. The GameCube version of the game is sadly missing the innovative four-player competitive mode featured in Chaos Theory (and its predecessor) for the PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 2. And while that's the biggest omission, unfortunately it's just one of the numerous corners that have been cut to make Chaos Theory for the GameCube a mockery of its PC and Xbox counterparts. It's mostly similar to the half-baked PS2 version, but with no versus mode, clunkier controls, a useless Game Boy Advance connectivity feature, and a bunch of GameCube-exclusive glitches. Strictly on its own merits, this version is an altogether unimpressive action adventure that still smacks of being a watered-down port of a technically superior game. In other words, both GameCube owners and Splinter Cell fans deserve better than this. It'd be very difficult to understand what anyone sees in the Splinter Cell series solely judging by this version of the game.
Though the cooperative campaign is the most original aspect of Chaos Theory, the solo campaign is the highlight. It's once again composed of a linear series of missions, but these are generally somewhat bigger, more open-ended, and more fun than those of the previous games. Set in the near future, the campaign focuses on the threat of informational warfare and a tenuous relationship between the United States, North Korea, and Japan. Enter Sam Fisher, who's summoned to various international hot spots to find the truth, and possibly to silence certain dangerous individuals. You'll control him from a third-person perspective as he infiltrates enemy compounds and ventilates his foes.
The story is a techno-thriller that lives up to the Tom Clancy name, but storytelling has never been Splinter Cell's strong suit, and Chaos Theory is no exception. Some unfocused between-mission cutscenes sometimes set the stage for your next assignment, but a lot of your mission details are conveyed in boring, easily skippable premission monologues by your commanding officers and informants. Unsurprisingly, the best parts of the story happen during the missions themselves, where you'll often hear Fisher exchanging banter with his off-site crew. Fisher, once again brought to life by gravelly voiced actor Michael Ironside (Total Recall, Starship Troopers), is a great character, thanks to his dry, melancholy sense of humor. But the game sometimes tries too hard to be clever, with a few highly conspicuous attempts at self-referential jokes. At any rate, you shouldn't play this game for the plot.
Fisher is deadlier than ever this time around, thanks partly to his new combat knife, which he has inexplicably started using since his last assignment. The knife is mostly just a cosmetic change from the previous Splinter Cells, since in those games Fisher could put his opponents into a choke hold, whereas he now holds them at knifepoint (bold new look, same difference). Even though he threatens his captives with a knife to their throats, Fisher can't actually cut them once he has grabbed them from behind. He can either choke them to unconsciousness or deliver a fatal knee strike to their lower back. Prior to grabbing them, he can now also stab his foes to death quickly, quietly, and, for some reason, bloodlessly. And though he's replaced his old elbow smash with a palm strike or a punch to the temple, he can optionally still knock his foes unconscious as opposed to killing them outright.
One of the reasons Chaos Theory is easier than its predecessors is because Fisher's melee attacks are more effective, allowing him to reliably eliminate foes with a single, swift attack without even resorting to using his guns. There's actually no difference in gameplay terms between killing a foe and knocking him out. But it is nice to have the choice for variety's sake, although the options could have been more meaningful here. At any rate, it's good to see a bunch of great, new animations in the game. Fisher has always moved with incredibly lifelike grace, but he looks even better in action now. Probably the best of the new animations is how Fisher will naturally shift his weight away from an unsuspecting foe as he creeps up on him, putting as much distance between the two of them as he possibly can. It's a subtle effect that really makes you feel like you're stalking your foes in the darkness. These animations are really the only impressive aspect of the game's visuals.
- Player Reviews: 35
- Game Universe:
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six (DC, GBC, N64, PS, PC),
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon (XBOX, PC, GC, PS2, MAC, NGE),
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 (XBOX, PS2, GC, MOBILE),
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear (PC, PS, DC, PS2, GBA, MAC),
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (XBOX, PC, PS2, GC, GBA, NGE, MOBILE, MAC, PS3),
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Island Thunder (PC, XBOX, PS2),
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow (PC, XBOX, PS2, GC, GBA, MOBILE, PS3),
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm (PS2, NGE, MOBILE),
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2 (PS2, XBOX, GC, PC),
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (PC, XBOX, NGE, PS2, GC, DS, 3DS)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players: