Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Hands-On

We get our mitts on the PS2 version of Sam Fisher's latest top-secret mission.

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Since 2002, Splinter Cell has been widely regarded by gamers as an Xbox franchise that just happened to make its way to other platforms, such as the PC, PS2, and GameCube. The third installment in the series, Chaos Theory, marks the first time that Ubisoft has given these other platforms their due, since the game will ship for all four systems simultaneously. We just got some new details on the PS2 version of the game in an exclusive QA with Ubisoft Montreal producer Andrew Roy. Now we've managed to get our hands on the latest PS2 build of Chaos Theory and took it for a spin to find out how Sam Fisher's latest mission has translated to Sony's machine.

As you'd expect, the content in Chaos Theory PS2 is nearly identical to what we've experienced on the Xbox and PC. Third Echelon secret agent Fisher is once again called upon to thwart the evil deeds of a bunch of bad guys who want to take over the world, and stuff. This time around the threat involves leaked computer algorithms, a high-tech US battleship, and an imposing military alliance between China and North Korea--in short, this is as Clancy as it gets. From what we've played so far, the missions in the PS2 version of Chaos Theory will follow the same progression as what we've seen on the Xbox--same mission objectives, same dialogue, same dramatic developments. There are some noticeable differences in level layouts, though--we've seen multiple areas condensed into single, smaller ones on the PS2, and a few sections are gone entirely. Additionally, while the Xbox and PC versions can hold an entire mission in memory at once, the PS2 game breaks the missions up into smaller sections, so you'll load more frequently. But at least these loads take place at logical points in the mission and don't break up the flow of gameplay significantly.

Of course, the biggest question about the PS2 version is how do the graphics hold up? Answer: surprisingly well. Granted, there's no way you'll mistake this edition of Chaos Theory with the ones on the Xbox or PC (we've been extremely impressed with the visuals in both versions thus far), but this is definitely a fine-looking PS2 game. Sony's aging hardware can't reproduce advanced graphical techniques like bump-mapping to the same degree as newer platforms, but Ubi's PS2 developers seem to have done a nice job of "faking" these effects wherever possible. We've seen rough-hewn stone walls that appear to have real texture, for instance, and while the effect isn't as striking as it is on the Xbox, Chaos Theory should present itself favorably next to most other PS2 games. The visuals do seem extremely dark, though, even in comparison to other versions of the game. Perhaps the lighting levels are still undergoing final tweaking before the game's release.

Watch for Chaos Theory to hit the PS2 (and other major platforms) later this month.
Watch for Chaos Theory to hit the PS2 (and other major platforms) later this month.

If you're a Splinter Cell fan, that release may come sooner than expected--the game is due out March 28, just a couple of weeks from now. We've discovered during past previews that Sam Fisher has more equipment and techniques than ever before, and we're looking forward to seeing how his latest mission plays out. This PS2 version won't contain all of the modes that the Xbox and PC versions will, but if you're a Sony-bound stealth action fan, it looks like this port of the game will do you right. Stay tuned for more on Chaos Theory, and look for a full review at the time of release.

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