Even those who only own Nintendo's system would be selling themselves short by picking up this version of the game.
Earlier this year, Ubisoft released the sequel to its blockbuster hit Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell for the PC, Xbox, and (later) PlayStation 2. Pandora Tomorrow not only offered more of the same sort of spectacular single-player stealth action as the first game, again starring ultrasecret agent Sam Fisher, but also it boasted a genuinely innovative, new online multiplayer mode for up to four players, in which small groups of spies must match wits with heavily armed mercenaries in a deadly game of hide-and-seek. Sadly, the multiplayer portion of Pandora Tomorrow is completely gone from the new, late-breaking GameCube version of the game, which retains just the single-player portion found in previous versions of the game (and gains some gimmicky Game Boy Advance connectivity features that are barely worth mentioning). In fact, this version of Pandora Tomorrow was effectively gutted. Not only is it missing the other versions' most exciting feature but--much like the PlayStation 2 version--also it doesn't look nearly as good as its PC and Xbox counterparts. Furthermore, it suffers from poor pacing caused by too many abrupt checkpoints, save points, and loading times that have been injected into each level. The resulting product, while technically competent, simply cannot be recommended in good conscience.
There are only eight missions in total--the back of the box deceptively claims there are "32 levels," which is presumably the number of pieces the eight original missions were butchered into. And while the PC and Xbox versions' eight missions felt pretty substantial, these feel somewhat stripped down--regardless of whether you've played the other versions or not. As mentioned, your progress will be frequently interrupted by invisible barriers; sometimes you'll barely get past one or two guards before the next checkpoint or save point. In consequence, the missions lack a sense of cohesiveness, and when you combine that with this version's less-impressive graphics as compared to its old counterparts, the result is a single-player campaign that's too jarring to be impressive.
The core gameplay itself is basically the same as in the first Splinter Cell, which, for the most part, is a good thing. You'll sneak your way through the game's linear scenarios, avoiding or incapacitating any unsuspecting guards (or, sometimes, civilians) who might otherwise threaten your mission of secrecy. It's not difficult to alert passersby to your presence, either by moving too quickly (or otherwise making too much noise) or by blundering into a well-lighted area. There are other nasty surprises in store for you. Hidden antipersonnel mines (visible only when you toggle your thermal vision), infrared trip wires (likewise), booby traps, motion detectors, security cameras, and other such devices can make the going pretty tough at times.
You've got plenty of tricks up your sleeve, too. Fisher is typically armed with a silenced pistol as well as his trusty SC-20K multipurpose experimental assault rifle, which he can use for some silent sniping when lethal force is permitted or which he can use to fire off a variety of different gadgets. Those who played Splinter Cell will recognize all of these, which range from diversionary cameras to smoke grenades to electrifying (but nonlethal) rounds. Fisher's other gadgets include lock picks, an optical fiber wire used for seeing what's on the other side of a closed door, and his combined night vision/thermal vision goggles. Exclusively on the GameCube, via the Game Boy Advance connectivity feature, Fisher can also access a real-time tactical map of his surroundings, and he can remotely manipulate some objects (such as automated turrets). He's decked out to get the job done by any means necessary.
Considering the gameplay is as complex as it is, it's fortunate that the controls translated to the GameCube's controller (with its fewer buttons) as well as they did. Some aspects of the controls do take getting used to, but it all becomes second nature after a while. Notably, though, we were unable to figure out how to look through the scope of the SC-20K for quite some time. (The manual says to simply push button A, which is incorrect.) We eventually discovered that this is done by pressing down on--but not all the way down on--the left trigger for a moment. We got past the awkwardness of this particular mechanic soon enough.
Pandora Tomorrow's storyline is somewhat easier to follow than that of its predecessor, and some of the gameplay elements are thankfully a bit more transparent this time around. For example, the game inherits a somewhat contrived element from its predecessor: In Splinter Cell you needed to hide the bodies of your victims out of sight to avoid setting off an alarm, which would possibly result in the failure of your mission. You needed to hide all bodies even when there was no one left conscious to pay them much heed. Pandora Tomorrow at least makes it clear that this is always necessary, since you'll be chastised for not doing it. Also, in most missions, you don't automatically fail if an alarm is sounded; you'll be afforded up to three such mistakes, though at scripted points in each mission, the alarm stage will reset back to zero, and you'll be able to proceed somewhat less anxiously.
- Player Reviews: 28
- 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)
- Number of Players: