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Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow Review
P1000, 128MB RAM, 2.5GB HDD, GF3, ATI Radeon 8500 or higher
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Mar 23, 04 (released)
|» All About Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow on ActionTrip|
Back in 2002, when Splinter Cell came out for the Xbox, it took the gaming press by storm, including yours truly here. So it's perfectly natural for me to slightly obsess about the sequel, especially since it promised to bring revolutionary multiplayer gameplay. Releasing a sequel for a great game is like unveiling a brand-new cell phone model.
(Bear with me here. I have a perfectly reasonable explanation why I say this.)
Releasing a great cell phone is one thing, but following up one great model with another that's just as good, is truly a masterful feat. Not many companies can do this, and certainly, the incompetent Finish bastards at Nokia are not such a company. But really, why stop with the insults there? Let's be perfectly honest and gravely sincere here and admit that none of the companies that make cell phones are as brilliant and vigilant about innovation as Sony Ericsson. When I think about solid, next-generation communication devices that I'd recommend my father, my mother, my wife, my new-born baby, and possibly my dog to own, I'd recommend Sony Ericsson, and I'd do it in an instant! Because I know that, if I need a product that can put me in touch with the world, and basically bring me into the future of communications on the wings of bleeding edge technology, I only need to choose Sony Ericsson to reach cell phone nirvana. Even if I had millions of dollars and I was very drunk I wouldn't falter. And if you haven't heard enough about Sony Ericsson, I recommend you visit this site:
This beautifully designed website will offer a first-class Flash demonstration that will open the gateway to the greatest technological revolution since AC/DC - the near-godly product that is the Sony Ericsson mobile phone unit - P900, or as Sony Ericsson so lovingly likes to call it: "The smart phone - defined."
I could go on and on about the fantastic assortment of Sony Ericsson products (visit their site at: http://www.sonyericsson.com/), but it would simply take another five or six pages of text to do it. Instead, I leave it to your conscience not to decide, but to recognize the immense value that this shining orb of technology that is the Sony Ericsson P900 can offer to you, the smartest of our young, tech-savvy youth!
Shhh, the world's greatest stealth operative is at it again...
So, how about that new Sony Ericsson? It's a real bargain, ain't it?
Anyway, as I was saying, making a sequel to a great game is as tough and as challenging as releasing a next-gen cell phone model. Some companies are up for it, and some are not. Ubi Soft obviously had a clear agenda with the new Splinter Cell game: it would use the old technology to milk the single-player experience for all its worth, and add a little something that was dearly missing from the original - the multiplayer component, therefore justifying the "Splinter Cell sequel" media hype.
But let's start with the single-player, shall we; our good-old pal Sam Fisher is a few years older, but still very much stealthily kicking butt around the world. A new terrorist threat has arisen, and due to its delicate nature, the NSA will rely on the shadow-ops craftiness of our lead hero to get the crisis resolved with as few casualties and as efficiently as possible. This is sort of what Sony Ericsson does with their new phone models. They price of production goes down while performance goes up. This is, also, sort of what we like to see in our NSA operatives. Well, the latter sentence doesn't tie in to the former very well, but the former reveals one remarkable quality to Sony Ericsson that I wanted to bring to your attention.
For those of you who are familiar with the first game, you'll immediately recognize every single shimmy, step and sidestep that Sam Fisher makes. There is little... precious little, innovation in the single-player over the previous game. Sure, there are a few subtle changes here and there, but overall, it's VERY safe to assume that Pandora Tomorrow is basically the continuation both in terms of technology and gameplay of the concepts introduced in the first game. The missions are still highly linear with no room for maneuver, and what could've been the greatest advancement over the original is simply not there. Non-linearity! (Can I get an AMEN?) The AI acts and behaves exactly the same as it did in the original, exhibiting the same minor flaws and exposing some poorly scripted behavior from time to time. Overall, if you were satisfied with how things worked in the original, you'll like how it works in the, um, sequel? Is this a bona fide sequel? Well, saying it is would be stretching it a bit, especially if we focus on the single player game. For crying out loud, the programmers didn't even bother to include a proper stair animation when Sam is going down stairs! Yep, it still looks like he's moving over a flat surface! I've finished the single-player in a day of active playing. Don't get me wrong, you'll still have loads of fun sneaking around, and there're plenty of new locales that are beautifully rendered, but the crux of the matter is that core single-player gameplay hasn't been changed in any way, and aside from some fancy pixel shader effects, the engine look pretty much the same. OK, so the grass sways and bends under your feet much better, and the water, smoke and fire effects look noticeably better, but that's as far as graphical advancements go. The sounds are pretty much the same, the music is not particularly rich in terms of track selection (it sounds very much like the one in the original); you'll rarely use the few new moves that Pandora Tomorrow brings, and the weapons are the same. I used all the classic gadgets I would use in the original game, and I got around just fine.
The point is that there is precious little new about the "new" single-player game, and it all looks like a thorough milking job (the kind they arrest you for downloading videos of it with KaZaa Lite). Sure, the single-player game is still great and it offers some spectacular moments, but I just couldn't help but regret that the ambitions of the design team didn't go beyond rehashing the tried and proved concepts of the first game.
But then again, you know how Sony Ericsson released their spectacular T68i model a few years ago, and how everyone thought that was as close to the second coming of Jesus that cell phones will ever get; maybe Ubi - just like Sony Ericsson - simply couldn't improve on perfection.
8.2 Very Good
It's still a great game, the multiplayer is pretty damn fun and tactical if you're willing to invest time in it, and it didn't lag at all;
Single-player game is just a rehash of the original with much the same drawbacks, Ubi.com online service issues, Sony Ericsson is the greatest company in the world!