Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow Review

Developer: Ubisoft Shanghai Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: March 23, 2004 Also On: GCN and PS2

In 2002, Ubi Soft released Splinter Cell. This game changed the way many people looked at video games forever. With cinematic-like graphics and outstanding gameplay, Splinter Cell blew people away. Now, Sam Fisher is ready to tackle another mission in Pandora Tomorrow. Just how good is Pandora Tomorrow compared to the original? Answer: much better.

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The visuals of Pandora Tomorrow actually outdo the original. The Sam Fisher character model has been improved in detail and he is much crisper. You can make your way through luscious foliage as well as splash your way around in the most gorgeous water ever seen in any game. The lighting and shadow effects are much more lifelike now, as well as the outdoor environments. The enemies all have different faces and all look as real as Sam. Everything is gorgeous and is just as outstanding as many of the CG scenes that appear throughout the game.

The sound department has also been given a huge upgrade. Michael Ironside returns as Sam Fisher with some new witty remarks and still chilling voice that made Sam Fisher the man. Dennis Haysbert, better known as David Palmer on the show 24, joins the Splinter Cell team as Lambert and he does a marvelous job not missing a beat. The rest of the cast also does an amazing job and adds to the whole experience. The outdoor environments sound just as they would in real life with chirping crickets, dogs barking, leaves rustling in the wind, and enemy side chatter.

The solid gameplay from the first SC returns and is well improved from last time. The small amount of bugs from the first version has been ironed out and now you get a much more fun experience. Setting off alarms in Splinter Cell is now much more forgiving. The alarm stages go up in stages instead of having everyone running at you. At stage 1, your enemies put on flak jackets, stage 2 they put on helmets, and stage 3 is mission over, but you have a chance to have the level lowered by being a ghost. Levels are now straighter forward and things are less difficult. Now, techniques can be used in Pandora Tomorrow like the swat spin, whistling, binoculars, wall jumping from the split jump to reach new heights, and new laser sight on the pistol. You will also find some new gadgets such as tripwires, flash grenades, chaff grenades and more. The environments are more interactable and now you can shoot out any light you choose, instead of only a few of them.

What really makes Pandora Tomorrow such an amazing game is the new multiplayer feature. This mode will be the talk of online play for months or even years to come. Mercenaries (Mercs) vs. Spies as it is called, is the most unique online experience ever to be conceived. Spies act just like Sam Fisher in third person and Mercs act sort of like Master Chief in First Person. Spies can stun the Mercs with their little weapons while Mercs run around with automatics trying to blow away the Spies and protect their base. With this mode, the use of the XBL communicator is critical, since you must talk with your teammate in order to succeed. You can also tap the communications of your opponent by using spy bullets or spy traps. This will allow you to hear what the other is planning to do and work a strategy against them.

The single player campaign will span 8 levels and will take you about 10 hours to complete. The ending to the solo campaign is fairly weak, but the multiplayer aspects of Pandora Tomorrow really make up for it. Whether or not you are a fan of the Tom Clancy games, this is one of them everyone needs in their collection. The multiplayer alone will keep you busy for a long time. This game is a barefaced example of how sequels do not have to suck. Here is a perplexing question: how do you top this with Splinter Cell 3?

Graphics: 10
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 9.5
Final: 9.8
Written by Shawn Review Guide

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