Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Review
One of the most popular, most successful, and best-looking games for Microsoft's Xbox is now on the PS2, and in certain ways it's better than the original.
Sneaking up behind an opponent allows Fisher to either knock the foe unconscious with an elbow strike or a pistol whip or grab the enemy and take him hostage. Fisher can then use the opponent as a human shield against other enemies, or in some cases interrogate him or force him to do such things as activate retinal scanners that otherwise prevent passage. He'll eventually have to dispatch his hostage one way or another, and then he can pick up and move the prone body out of the sight of enemy patrols. Fortunately for you, unconscious foes will awaken only if discovered by their allies.
More interestingly, the SC-20K can be used to fire remote camera probes, nauseating smoke bombs, or a distraction camera that can be used to lure guards away from their posts and then give them a mouthful of knockout gas. Such funky devices aren't always strictly necessary for finishing a mission, but they're fun to use and can help you avoid getting into a tight spot. Fisher can also get his hands on frag grenades and wall mines, though explosives aren't really his style. Throwing cans or bottles to distract foes is more up his alley.
Picking locks is definitely his style too, and he can use his trusty lock picks to bypass any locked doors. The game presents a great simulation of lock-picking in which you rotate the left analog stick until you find the pin (you'll feel the controller vibrate), wiggle the stick until Fisher nudges the pin loose, and then repeat the process as many times as there are pins in the lock. Some of Fisher's other neat gadgets include an optic cable that can be slid under doorways to give you a gander at what's on the other side, a camera jammer that disrupts security cameras, and emergency flares that can draw the fire of automated heat-sensitive gun turrets. Fisher is basically a high-tech government ninja, what with all this stuff and his combination night-vision and heat-vision goggles, which also gain a magnifying scope in this version. The odds are always against him, but he has a big-time element of surprise. His moves and gadgets aren't just for show, either, as Splinter Cell will require you to make use of almost all of Fisher's various abilities in most every mission.
In other missions, the alarm can go off several times before Third Echelon pulls the plug on you, and sometimes there's no alarm to worry about at all. Sometimes the alarm will go off at scripted moments if you've killed or knocked out a guard leading up to that point and failed to completely hide his body. In the Xbox version of Splinter Cell, this could force you into a perpetual mission-failure cycle, though here, not only do you get an onscreen indicator of how many times you're allowed to trip the alarm before the mission's a failure, but if you do fail by tripping too many alarms, you'll restart from the last checkpoint with at least two strikes left. This is part of why the PS2 version of Splinter Cell is generally easier than the Xbox version, which isn't entirely a good thing. Further, some mission sequences have been removed from the game altogether, most notably the break-in into the CIA headquarters--you start the mission already inside. Other parts are slightly changed: For instance, in the Xbox version, Fisher infiltrates an oil tanker at sunset, whereas there's a full moon here.