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Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Xbox

Published by Ubisoft
Developed by Ubisoft

"It Won't Cure Acne. It Won't Improve Your Sex Life. But SC:CT WILL give you
Hundreds of Hours of Fun"

Thank God UBiSoft did not hold this game back for the XBox 360. Many other
developers are planning on releasing no new major titles for XBox I and are
now busy writing code for XBox 360.

Not UBiSoft. In the last year they have put out very excellent games and
showed they are committed to the console. PoP Warrior Within, Brothers In
Arms: The Road To Hill 30, Rainbow Six:Lockdown, Ghost Recon 2, all in the
last year.

And let's not forget Downloadable Content. I don't know another developer
that puts out so many new single and multiplayer levels to their games after
they ship.

And now the best of them all: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.

A different UBiSoft team developed the second installment in the series;
Pandora Tomorrow. And they added some cool features to the series, such as
the SWAT Manoeuvre and aiming the pistol around corners.

Now the original development team is up to bat this time, and several of the
features we saw in Pandora Tomorrow did not survive the transition. That's
right, no more SWAT Manoeuvre, no aiming around corners. But that's OK. the
original team has added so many new features you won't miss the ones that
were dropped.

If you've played the previous two games, what's different about this one?
*Now Sam can not only hang from Zip Lines and pipes and draw his pistol; he
can also grab enemies that pass beneath him and either choke them unconscious
or break their necks.

*Sam has a knife and he knows how to use it. There are new lethal/non-lethal
attacks that Sam can do if he does not have the rifle or the pistol equipped.
Palm smash to the forehead, Knee to the stomach, Knife slash to the throat,
Knife stab into the heart from the front or the side, even a cool simultaneous backbreak/knife strike when you're done interrogating someone you've grabbed and decide to kill them.

*Sam can walk directly backwards now

*SC 20K Rifle now has optional shotgun/sniper attachments that make it even
more lethal than before.

*The inventory system has been improved; now Sam can get the item he needs
faster than ever. Also, he can switch between the SC 20K and the 5 7 Pistol
on the fly. He used to have to put the pistol back in it's holster and then
draw the rifle and aim all over again. Now if Sam is aiming at something with
the pistol and decides he wants to switch weapons, you select the SC 20K in
the inventory and once you let go of the button Sam automatically holsters
the pistol, draws the rifle, and aims it precisely at the spot the pistol was
just aiming at.

*Like Pandora Tomorrow the Optic Cable option is part of every door interact
window, but new features have been added. Sam can:

Open Door
Open Door Stealth
Bash Door
Optic Cable

There are several places in the game where Sam will discover an enemy right
on the other side of the door when he uses the Optic Cable. If the gamer
selects 'Bash Door', Sam will throw the door open very forcefully and it will
hit the character and knock them down, many times out cold. Several times I
hit a moving character as they were moving away from a door and knocked them
down, but they got up again.

If there is some one in the room Sam is Optic Cabling, and they are not close
to the door, or there is more than one enemy, Sam can "Open Door Stealth".
This feature makes Sam open the door very slowly and carefully, the better
for sneaking quietly into a room with enemies in it.

*Sam's support cast has gotten larger. Lambert and Grimsdottir are back, and
there are several new faces: Redding and Partridge. Redding handles
operational planning and Partridge runs the military arm of Third Echelon
that flies the planes, drives the boats and gets Sam where he needs to go
with the stuff he needs to do his thing once he gets there.

Before each mission each member of the support team will appear and tell Sam
what he needs to know about the upcoming mission.

* In the first Splinter Cell, checkpoints where you could save during
missions were few and far between. Only God knows how many XBox controllers
got thrown against hard objects as gamers heard the magic words: "Damn it,
Fisher!" and the screen would slowly dissolve to that hated MISSION FAILED
view, meaning the gamer had about half a level of the mission to replay to
get back to the point of the mission's failure and try again.

Still, that was of the game's strengths. There were no cheats, and when you
finally figured it out and finished the level you felt you had really
accomplished something difficult.

Now in Chaos Theory UBiSoft give the gamer five save slots and a Quick Save
feature that takes a lot of the drama out of the gameplay. Many gamers love
the fact that they can save the game anytime, anyplace. I don't.
I like the old checkpoint system better. But hey, that could just be me.

Not that I'm totally down on the new feature. There is a great thing about
the Quick Save that I love: you can save the game at a point where Sam is
about to attempt something, and then try five or six different alternative
strategies. Like in the Lighthouse level when Sam is entering the dungeon
room where Morgenholt is being tortured. Save it and then you can try
sneaking your way past the terrorists, getting in a gunfight with them,
killing all of them with just the knife or with bare hands. Now THAT'S fun.

*Sam can scan objects with his binoculars from a distance, and then his EEV
will tell him if he can hack it, OCP it, or lock pick it.

*The OCP is a great feature. The Camera Jammer has been combined with new
features and added to the Silenced Pistol. Enemy AI has been ramped up so
much, that if Sam always shoots lights out, the falling tinkle of glass will
be heard and patrolling guards will come looking for Sam when they see the
shot out light. Now Sam can make lights turn off temporarily with the OCP
attached to his pistol. Simply aim the pistol at the light and pull the left
trigger. If the OCP is aimed properly, it will flash green and the light will
flicker off.

This means Sam can make his way down a well lighted corridor by temporarily
turning off lights while he passes them, and after he has gone by they
flicker back to life again. This way, any guard or enemy that comes by later
does not find the lights shot out and raise an alarm and come looking for
Sam.

*Enemy AI is vastly improved. Their patrol patterns will change and they now
carry flashlights and flares, so Sam isn't home free once he shoots out or
OCP's a light. Get too close to an enemy in the dark and he may suddenly pull
out a flashlight and start sweeping a beam of light around the area.

*Like in Pandora Tomorrow, guards will respond to alarms by putting on body
armor, then helmets, then fortifying their positions. However, unlike PT, a
third alarm will not end the mission. Sam and Lambert even make a joke about
this in the beginning of the second level, Cargo Ship.

*Sam no longer needs to use Infrared on keypads or grab officers and make
them use retinal scanners. He can now hack his way past these security
measures.

*The graphics and animations are vastly improved. The sound is Dolby quality.
Levels are huge, and even after you have passed some parts of the level,
enemies can still be seen long after you've bypassed them. Case in point: the
top of the Lighthouse Level after you've taken out the guard and before you
call for extraction. If you snuck past the guard patrolling the base of the
Lighthouse, you can find him. He's still there, patrolling away. I've even
taken a shot at him and watched him run for cover. Also, try jumping up and
down on concrete and watch the noise meter. Then jump up and down on some
grass. See the difference? Very well thought out.

*The replayability factor of the solo mode is high. Guards do unpredictable
things, and change their patrol routes. Three time through you will sneak by
a guard with no problem; the fourth time he pulls out a flashlight and finds
you. Doh!

Just the Solo mode is reason enough to buy this game. I haven't even gone
into Coop and Multiplayer yet. This really is like three great games in one.
I give this game a solid 9 and if anybody has doubts about whether it's worth
the Fifty dollars, try renting it first. You'll be hooked.

Deaf Gamer's Grade: While the pre-mission briefings are all written out,
in-game dialogue has no subtitles, which means when Sam interrogates someone
or eavesdrops on a conversation, you have no idea what is being said.  The
only major flaw in this otherwise great game.

Overall Grade: 9.7

by Brian Cates