Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Review
Strictly on its own merits, this version is a good but unimpressive action adventure that still smacks of being a watered-down port of a technically superior game.
- Improved, more open-ended single-player campaign
- Innovative multiplayer mode is interesting, though difficult to master
- New cooperative mode offers some unique thrills.
- Shoddy frame rate and dismally dark graphics
- Co-op mode limited to split-screen; versus mode ripped from Pandora Tomorrow
- Campaign and co-op missions torn into bite-sized chunks.
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 addition to an updated version of the innovative spies-versus-mercenaries competitive multiplayer mode introduced in the second Splinter Cell game. So there's a lot to it, especially for Splinter Cell fans who felt a little too restricted while playing as Fisher in the previous games. With that said, Chaos Theory sometimes has a designed-by-committee feel due to its many disparate parts, and despite the game's grittier new theme and its new "Mature" rating, it's going to offer a familiar experience to Splinter Cell veterans. The PlayStation 2 version of the game is also much, much worse than the Xbox and PC versions of the game. Strictly on its own merits, this version is a good but unimpressive action adventure that still smacks of being a watered-down port of a technically superior game.
Though the competitive multiplayer mode and new cooperative campaign are the most original aspects 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.
Though the premise of the story is a techno-thriller that lives up to the Tom Clancy name, 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--you should play it because no other game does this well at making you feel like a deadly spy working behind enemy lines.
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's 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. It's nice to have the choice for variety's sake, but the options could have been more meaningful. 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, when Fisher is creeping near to an unaware opponent, he'll naturally shift his weight away from the foe, 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.
Fisher's got a bunch of other surprising new moves here, some of which are possible thanks to the knife, and others that allow him to take out his foes in interesting new ways. However, you won't get to use new moves often. You'll instead end up using the same sorts of techniques that were central to the first two Splinter Cell games. You'll frequently shoot out lights, switching to your night vision or thermal vision to aid you while your foes stumble blind. You'll also frequently creep up on foes from behind and consider shooting them in the head, using either your pistol or your newly redesigned SC-20K multipurpose assault rifle. You'll also get to pick locks, hack into computers, crawl through air ducts and other tight spots, slip past security cameras, and more.
- Player Reviews: 132
- 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:
- Online Modes:
Competitive, Team Oriented
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
4 Players Online