Do you think I use too much gel? GameGossip Baby! Are you looking at my ass? :: News :: :: Articles :: :: Games :: :: Interviews ::
Set Homepage Set Homepage  Set Bookmark Add Bookmark  Submit News Submit News
Username: Password:
Join GameGossip! :: Forgot Login :: 30,000+ Members!
:: Advertise With Us ::
:: Latest News Headlines :: :: Latest Hot Stories :: :: Current Poll ::
   Morning Brief - Zhang Yimou Is Dead To Me
 Morning Brief - Battlestar Galactica Edi...
 Wii Virtual Console Updated
 Morning Brief - Pirates of the Caribbean: At...
 Morning Brief - Lazy Sunday Edition
 Morning Brief - Pirates of the Caribbean: At...
 Overlord Demo Drops On Xbox Live Marketp...
 Funniest God Damned Video Ever
 Morning Brief - Finally Weekend Edition
 Shadowrun, Tenchu Z, and Vampi...
 Myst Clearing Soon on DS
 Harmonix Looking For a Few Good Songs
 Assassin's Creed To Steathly Drop November
 Sam and Max Episodic Content Goes Retail August
 Morning Brief - Late Edition
Black Xbox 360 is Teh Reals: 120GB HDD a...(12)
Forums & Comments Online(9)
Official "Forums are Down and I hate Lif...(272)
Get Your Pubescent Gay On in Bully(11)
The Little Halo That Couldn't: Fi...(28)
PS3 IS In Production(15)
ESA Issues E3 2007 Statement(11)
AMD Acquires ATI(17)
Video Game ... Detox Centers?(10)
Halo 3 Announcement Trailer(21)
Microsoft Supports Nintendo?(31)
Microsoft Acquires Lionhead(18)
PS3 Delayed?(23)
Game Previews Killing Game Industry?(13)
PS3 Estimated to Release at $800(29)
Did You Sign Up For Halo3 Beta?
Hell yes!
Press Releases

Game Servers
Poll Archive
Stock Market
Gaming Charts

About Us
Link Us

  Review: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow
On 05/17/04 by Stephen "Sgt. Bilbo" Carmichael

Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: March 23, 2004
ESRB: "T" for Teen
Official Site:
Platform: Xbox

Back in 2001, the original Splinter Cell was released, and it took the entire action/espionage genre by surprise. Until its release, Metal Gear Solid and its less than stellar sequel were the benchmarks of stealth gaming. Once Splinter Cell came along, the rules changed. No longer were you forced to hide just behind obstacles, but you had to use your entire environment. Ink-black shadows were your friends, not just line-of-sight hiding.
:: tom clancys splinter cell pandoras tomorrow ::
You had total control of your camera, incredibly cool spy gadgets, and slightly more open gameplay, and a story that you could actually comprehend. All of this amounted to one of the greatest gaming experiences on the Xbox.

Well, fast forward your clocks to 2004, and we are now greeted with the requisite sequel, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. While the original Splinter Cell was developed by Ubisoft�s Montreal studios, this time, Sam Fisher�s outing is being handled by the Shanghai studios. Did they do Mr. Fisher justice, or should Sam drag their lifeless bodies to the shadows to rot? Thankfully, not only have they equaled the original, but have surpassed it in many ways.

Now that we�ve covered the look and sound of the game, how does it play? Thankfully, the game plays just as good as the original, only this time, Sam has a few more tricks up his sleeve. The point of Splinter Cell is to remain unseen and avoid firefights whenever possible. The original was the first stealth game to give you options. You could hide in the shadows and creep along the wall, or you could climb a pipe and go over your enemies. Pandora Tomorrow continues this trend. This time around, the shadows are even darker, which makes your night vision goggles even more useful. The shadows not only hide Sam, but the bodies he leaves behind. You have to be sure to hide every body you leave, otherwise the enemy will eventually find it and raise the alert level.

Alert levels are handled differently this time around.
:: tom clancys splinter cell pandoras tomorrow ::
The original game had a �three strikes and you�re out� policy. If you were caught 3 times, the mission was failed and you had to re-start from your last checkpoint. In Pandora Tomorrow, this philosophy continues, however, it is made much easier by having the alert levels decrease over time. If you stay hidden, eventually you will have your level reset to one, and you can continue your mission without incurring the 3 strikes policy. Not every level resets, though, and some missions will be failed after being caught 3 times, so hide well. Controls have changed a bit this time around. The analog sticks now play a larger role in the game. The left stick still moves Sam around the environment, but clicking the left analog stick with have Sam press against the wall. This is a welcome change from pressing the rather awkward black button in the original game. Click the right stick is still the camera, but clicking it will bring up your binoculars, which you can then zoom by pressing up and down on the digital pad.

Inventory has been modified significantly since the original Splinter Cell. An example is lock picking. In the original, you had to open your inventory by holding down the white button, selecting the lock pick, and then using the right trigger to activate the pick. In Pandora Tomorrow,
:: tom clancys splinter cell pandoras tomorrow ::
walking up to a door will bring up your options, such as the optic cable, opening the door, or picking it if its locked. Once your option is selected, the game will automatically bring up the desired interface. This streamlines the gameplay considerably, and a big �Thank You� goes to Ubisoft for changing this area of the game.

Sam�s moves have not changed much since his original outing. He can still climb pipes, crawl through air vents, etc. This time, however, he does have a couple of new moves. If hanging from a pipe, you can draw your gun and Sam will hang down by his feet and allow you to aim. Very cool acrobatics, and a nice addition to gameplay. The other new move is the �SWAT Turn.� If Sam is crouched against a wall and comes to a small space between another wall, he can do a fast turn across the space, minimizing his visibility. Sam can still get caught if he does the move in a lit area, but it does lessen the chance. AI is not 100% perfect, however, as enemies will stick to a pattern of movement, which, once learned, will make passing areas fairly straightforward. This make the enemies less realistic, and, while a minor annoyance, will hopefully be fixed in the next game. Physics are also a bit of a letdown. This game uses the Renderware physics engine which, while decent, does not allow for ragdoll physics. Ragdoll would be a welcome addition to the Splinter Cell series, and would make the game much more realistic, by allowing you to knock environmental objects over and the enemies much more lifelike. Here�s hoping that Ubisoft is listening to fans of games like Max Payne 2 and UT2K4.

Well, let�s start with the graphics, since that�s the first thing you�ll see upon starting the game. The original game was based on a heavily modified version of the Unreal Engine, and Pandora Tomorrow is no different. The lighting effects are as realistic as games get at this point. The real-time shadows are in full effect. Walk by Venetian blinds, and Sam will have light lines cover him, and once in complete darkness, you�ll rely on your night vision and infrared, both of which have very impressive effects.
Night vision casts your environment in gray and white tones, but also uses the depth of field effect, so items in the distance are slightly out of focus, until up close or zoomed in with the binoculars (more on these later). Infrared casts everything in a deep blue and black hue, with warm items colored in bright yellow, orange and red. Think this vision mode similar to the Predator, and you get the idea.

Environments this time around are extremely varied. You start in a coastal environment, with water and shack buildings, but gradually move through industrial complexes, office buildings, and even a jungle, complete with foliage. The environments are larger this time around, with more varied paths to take when sneaking through the levels. The texture work is good, though not great. Some of the better graphical effects start to appear during the jungle levels, with lush plant life and natural environs to hide in. This is a welcome addition to the somewhat drab locations of the original Splinter Cell. Character models are also improved, with better shading and more ornate appearances, such as equipment vests, jackets, hats, etc. Sam is definitely the best looking of the models in the game, with grenades, pistols, and his trusty SC20 rifle slung on his back. Heck, if you look close enough, you can see zippers, buckles and any other minute detail. While most games would be content just to show some detail, Pandora Tomorrow goes the distance, especially with Mr. Fisher�s outfit. Costumes for the enemies are also improved, with more variation in enemy attire. A welcome improvement over killing �Enemy A� and �Enemy B� over and over again in the first game, which, after awhile, did become somewhat tiresome. Variety is the spice of life, and is not a slouch in this area.

The original Splinter Cell had adequate audio, with Dolby Digital 5.1 and professional actors playing the main roles. Pandora Tomorrow continues this tradition, bringing back the 5.1 mixing along with Michael Ironside and Dennis Haysbert, as Sam Fisher and Colonel Lambert respectively. Both Mr. Ironside and Mr. Haysbert do very credible jobs with their voiceovers, though the acting does become a bit dry in some areas, but they are few and far between. Ubisoft should be commended for pushing for good voice actors (Capcom could learn from them�You listening, Mikami-san?). Enemies will talk with each other, mostly during scripted sequences. If you�re noticed, the enemies will say lines such as �Hey, who turned the lights out� or �Hey, what was that?� With Dolby Digital 5.1, you will hear the sound cues from the location they are in proximity to Sam, so if you have a good home theater setup, you�ll appreciate this attention
to detail. Music in the game is good at creating tension, and there are some new musical cues to let you know if you�ve been spotted by a terrorist. This adds to the tension and makes for a good gaming adrenaline rush. Again, the attention to detail is very much appreciated.

Multiplayer is new to the Splinter Cell universe, and it�s a very welcome addition. Played over Xbox Live, games can have four players, 2 Spies, 2 Mercenaries, or any combination of the two. Strewn about each of the multiplayer maps are items that the spies have to deactivate. The Mercenaries have to prevent this. Sound simple? Its not. Each side has their own abilities and weaknesses, which makes for very riveting gameplay. Playing as the spies, you are in traditional 3rd Person view, which controls like the single player game. You still have your night vision and your thermal imaging, along with a selection of 3 different spy gadgets at your disposal. You can have up to four different gadgets, such as spy bullets, noise emitters, and chaff grenades. You�re not terribly lethal with weapons, though, as your rifle only stuns your prey. You can knock the mercs out with smoke grenades, or you can catch them from behind and either knock them out, or break their neck. One nice addition to this action is that if you have a headset, you can talk to the merc you just captured, and then kill him. Its always enjoyable to taunt your target before killing him.

Mercenaries are quite a bit different. First, you play a mercenary in first-person mode, very similar to Halo. As a mercenary, you have two new vision modes: Motion Detection, and Electro Magnetic (EM) Tracking. With motion capture, your view is turned to a deep red and black, and when something moves, it is highlighted with a box. Beware, though, as it will detect any movement, which includes your teammate. EM Tracking will turn everything ice-blue, highlighting EM fields with hazy white. If a spy is using his night or thermal vision modes, they�ll be picked up by this tracking method. Muliplayer games are incredibly fun. Lag does play a part, but not very often, as many of the games I�ve played have been fairly lag-free. Teamwork is a must, which is a welcome change from the �one man army� that some games allow. Communication is very helpful in keeping tabs on the other team. If you know where one enemy is, you can notify your teammate. Likewise, you can plan your strategies better and work together better.

Final Verdict
Pandora Tomorrow is an excellent addition to the Xbox library. It plays well, has a great storyline, and the multiplayer is incredible. To sum it up: Come for the single player, stay for the multiplayer.

Final Score: 9.0/10
#1 - dougman - 05/17/04 @ 11:05 PM EST
it seems that the gameplay and graphics sections were switched around.
When I read "Now that we�ve covered the look and sound of the game, how does it play?"

I was looking back at the intro, trying to figure out where you talked about graphics.

/ /
#2 - Sgt. Bilbo - 05/18/04 @ 11:09 AM EST
I didn't write this review in the correct format, so Bulldog formatted it to match the "Gameplay, Graphics, Sound" model.
/ /
#3 - TUCO - 05/18/04 @ 11:53 AM EST
how come no reveiws comment on the horrendous amount of screen tearing in this game, which quite honestly ruins the graphics...for me at least.
/ /
#4 - Sgt. Bilbo - 05/18/04 @ 01:48 PM EST
I never really noticed any tearing...can you give me some examples?
/ /
#5 - Bulldog - 05/18/04 @ 01:56 PM EST
I never noticed either.
/ /
#6 - TUCO - 05/18/04 @ 02:51 PM EST
it's really evident in multiplayer. But it also might depend on the TV you play it on (HDTV or regular), Im playing on a normal 20-inch TV and I notice alot of image tearing. Do HDTV's have refresh rates or anything?

/ /
#7 - Sgt. Bilbo - 05/18/04 @ 03:17 PM EST
Dunno about the refresh rate on an HDTV, but I've played in both S-Video and HD, and I've not noticed any tearing in single or multiplayer
#8 - Anon@ - 05/18/04 @ 04:04 PM EST
I played on sony 34HS510 HDTV.
Mmmmmmmmm HDTV.
#9 - scopecreep - 05/18/04 @ 07:00 PM EST

I can't say I enjoyed this game much except for the standout last mission. Loved that one.
#10Anon@ - 05/18/04 @ 07:59 PM EST
The single player part was weak, not too many instances to try out all the neat toys and trick moves. The multi is great though. I give sp a 7 multi 9.
#11Anon@ - 05/19/04 @ 12:54 PM EST
I'm more into oldschool MGS:TS myself.


Username: Anonymous [ Register | Login ]
Comment: /
Allowed HTML:
/ <a href="">LINK</a>
  Anon. Comments Not Allowed - You Must Register or Login!
/ //
/////// /
:: advertise ::
Page Load Time: 0.1936 seconds