| |

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Review

Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: March 28, 2005 Also On: GCN, PC, PS2 and Xbox

One might take note to the fact that it took Bungie longer to put out a single game (Halo 2) than it took Ubisoft’s team behind Splinter Cell to release two (almost three) high-quality stealth-action titles. At a rate of about once a year, Sam Fisher and his Splinter Cell crew slides in from the dark to deliver a crushing blow on all of the major consoles, and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, the latest in the series, shows that even a tired genre can still have a lot of life in it.

Disclosure: We may earn a commission from links on this page

Sam Fisher’s “Chaos Theory� idea is displayed in almost all of the stories in the stealth-action genre: a small conflict builds into bigger and badder problems that affect the entire world. In Chaos Theory, “small conflicts� range from meetings that must be spied upon and weapons crates that must be found. Nuclear bombs and the like are just some of the bigger things you’re faced with as you slither through each level. Like all of these games, however, I wasn’t interested in the story. I credit Ubisoft for making such a great game, but the story just isn’t where the fun lies in Chaos Theory.

Playing through a single mission of a Splinter Cell game is the only way to show it: THIS is stealth, not the gun-toting action of the Metal Gear Solid series. While Sam still has all his old acrobatic tricks in his bag, Ubisoft has managed to allow gamers to use sound and noise to complete their missions. In the single-player game, pressing a button will cause Sam Fisher to whistle or make noise in an attempt to attract attention. However, players with a microphone or headset will be able to speak or even yell into it to alert guards or cause a distraction. Of course, staying quiet is still important, but Chaos Theory even goes as far to allow gung-ho gamers to succeed. Now a raised alarm won’t end most missions, but instead it makes the job much harder to complete.

The single-player campaign is nothing compared to the online play, which is absolutely perfect on Xbox Live. Ubisoft created four missions that are exclusive to the cooperative campaign found online. These missions open up new possibilities as two players help each other succeed at the same goal. The geometry of some areas is allowed to be different than the single-player campaign because of the cooperative abilities (such as hoisting each other up a ledge or “climbing� a partner’s body to reach great heights). Teamwork allows for so much creativity; there are always multiple ways to do things. Are you having a tough time making it past a guard? Have your partner get his attention while you walk up behind him and slit his throat or knock him out. Want to take a silent approach? Kill the lights and wait for your partner to pass, who will then return the favor. The cooperative mode is joined by the versus mode, which returns in full force from SC: Pandora Tomorrow. However, after playing cooperative, versus just didn’t appeal to me as much. Besides, it was interesting to see how my partner would react or solve a situation.

Returning to the fact that Splinter Cells are thrown at us at a yearly rate, it’s amazing that Chaos Theory looks as good as it does. Without a doubt the most graphically sound game on any console, Chaos Theory looks as close to perfect as games should be able to look. From the eerily-real faces on every character to the glossy, damp-looking rocks adorning several of the levels; Chaos Theory excels beyond any other game on the market, graphically. Also, while there is a general lacking of music, the ambient noise that surrounds you makes each area of the game much deeper, beyond the obvious fact that the game looks amazing.

Overall, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory won’t disappoint fans of the series and newcomers alike – it is very similar (almost disappointingly similar) to the previous games, but the new alterations and additions (cooperative mode) and sheer perfection of the formula make this a difficult game to pass up. While the cooperative modes online are more than enough of an incentive to buy this game, it would phase me that any fan of action or stealth games would miss out on this title.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 9.3
Written by Cliff Review Guide