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LTTP LTTP: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Ubisoft's first Crowning Jewel?)

MiyazakiHatesKojima

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Jan 11, 2019
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Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell is a Stealth/Political Thriller video game created by Ubisoft back in 2002. I’ve always known about the Splinter Cell franchise ever since growing up during the PS2 era. At that time, I never had the gaming intelligence to play a game as complex and difficult as Splinter Cell. 15 years later, I decided to give the franchise a shot and it was one of the best decisions that I’ve personally done in terms of jumping onto a new franchise. I started playing Splinter Cell back in 2017 but never got a chance to complete it in a short span of time. It took me two full years to get around finishing this game but it was worth the wait. Now, let's get right to the reviewing, shall we?

Gameplay (9.5/10)
In terms of gameplay, Splinter Cell is meticulous in its approach to the stealth genre and expertly executed. Never have I ever played a stealth game quite like this, even when I've played the Metal Gear franchise.The amount of sheer freedom given to the player in terms of how to approach a certain situation is refreshing to say the least. Ubisoft’s developers took the stealth genre into new territory with gameplay mechanics that I've never come across. The flexibility of movement in Splinter Cell is one of the best in the stealth genre. For example, Fisher can mantle onto and climb along ledges, hang from pipes, and perform a "split jump" in narrow spaces to mantle up a steep wall. For a game in 2002, this is unheard of and goes to show you how talented Ubisoft can be when they’re on their ‘A-game’. The intense moments of the game arise not from close encounters with NPCs but rather when trying to evade them in terms of stealth. I’ve struggled at first when it came to understanding the basics but as time passed, I saw myself becoming more skilled and quiet with my approach to the situation at hand. The weapons given in this game are well-balanced and fun to use. At the same time, it requires a level of skill to properly handle them, which adds to the overall realism of Splinter Cell. The gadgets are fantastic and range from Stick Diversion cameras to camera-hacking guns. You will feel as if you truly have complete access to CIA’s weapons and arsenal. The camera view is ahead of its time in terms of today’s third person games; I saw it as something that wasn’t executed right until the PS3 era. During my play-through, I never felt like the game was a chore, except when I would repeat a section for failing it. This game does not hold your hand, but it respects your intelligence. Slightly frustrating issues aside, Splinter Cell is a masterful stealth game when it comes to gameplay, especially if you’re a fan of the stealth genre.

Story [9/10]
Splinter Cell is a Political Thriller at heart. I was at the edge of my seat at certain points in the game, and the newsreel cut scenes done well enough to create that tension throughout the campaign. Playing Sam Fisher for the first time made me realize why he is so beloved among Splinter Cell fans: he has charisma and a strong personality that brings his character more grounded in reality. The dialogue in the game is well-written, to say the least. The typical CIA lingo is present but it never felt tacky or contrived; rather, it felt like it was taken straight out of a Tom Clancy novel, which is always a good thing. The antagonists in the game are well-rounded, not one-dimensional in their motives. I felt like they could pose as real-life figures who would pose some serious threats to 1st World Countries like the U.S. and made me think whether someone like Grinko or Fae Long could exist in our world. The locations that take place in the story are memorable to say the least, not just in terms of how they appear visually, but the tone and art direction for each location truly made me feel like I was in that country and city. While there was some backtracking in terms of locations used, I felt like those locations warranted another visit from how well they were realized in the game. The story has a great mystery that continued to tease and amp up the tension and thankfully, the reveal at the end was worth the wait. Some nice plot twists sprinkled here and there too, but the overall plot was interesting enough for me not to care about plot twists or other literary devices that I'm accustomed to in political thrillers (see MGS). The ending of the game, however, was decent and a bit underwhelming, but I played the Ubisoft Shanghai version of the game so I will reserve my judgement until i play the Montreal version. Overall, the story was executed well and I can safely say it’s a story that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.


Atmosphere (Graphics/World Design/Art Direction/Music/Sound Design) [9.5/10]
From all of the PlayStation 2 games that I’ve played over the past 17 years, never have I been so stunned by a game’s graphics than Splinter Cell. Some of the best art direction in terms of location design I've seen in years. I honestly want to visit some of these locations now after playing the game. Not only this, but the attention to detail and graphical advancements in this game are noteworthy to say the least. Using an advanced physics engine to render real-time cloth movement when passing through a curtain door is a sight to behold. I can’t imagine how people reacted to it back in 2002. The atmosphere evoked in this game is bar none; you truly feel like you’re in Georgia infiltrating a military base and the music that accompanies you along the way does a great job of maintaining that espionage atmosphere throughout the game. The sound design really impressed me and never did I encounter a situation where the audio wasn’t a huge helping hand when going in stealth. It’s an amazing piece of audio engineering on Ubisoft’s part and helps with the overall immersion of the world. Overall, the presentation was outstanding and I love seeing developers push the envelope when it comes to graphical technology and sound design.

Final Remarks
I think by now, you can safely assume that I found Splinter Cell to be a fantastic game. It has great replay value due to the sheer depth of the gameplay and overall, It was a great start to a legendary franchise. I hope this series never ends as there’s so much possibilities to achieve with it, both narrative and gameplay wise. I highly recommend this game for those who love stealth and those who love old school game design tendencies. I would not recommend this game to those who get frustrated easily because this game does not play around; it will never hold your hand. Now, I have to really start playing the rest of the games in the Splinter Cell series and may end up reading the novels as well.


Score: 9.25/10 (Editor's Choice) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
 
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JohnnyFootball

The Last of Us may be third person, but it is hardly third person.
Jan 20, 2014
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These games got re-released on PS3 using PC assets. It would be awesome if they re-released all four originals (that includes the xbox/ps2 version of Double Agent) in a package for like $39.99 complete with full widescreen and trophies/achievements on PS4/X1 and even PC since the originals are incredibly difficult to mod and don't have controller support and IMO these do not play well with a keyboard and mouse.

Hey Ubisoft, since you're not doing anything with this franchise why not just do this. It'll tide a lot of people over who were fans of the originals.
 
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Godzilla Emu

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Mar 25, 2019
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Fantastic write up OP. I never finished it back in the day but it's been sitting on my backlog since. Your thread has tempted me to commit to a full play through on the X. I've tried it briefly and it looks brilliant in 4k. It really holds up well IMO:

 
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kostasfil

Neo Member
Jul 1, 2019
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The Splinter Cell series and especially the first 3 games of the series, are spectacular to play even now! It's the best stealth gameplay i've ever tried. And still holds up really well.
 
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Tesseract

Crushed by Thanos
Dec 7, 2008
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ja wonderful game, huge deal at the time as it was a technical showpiece that kept pace with the best pc games
both xbox sequels are excellent btw, the multiplayer was some masterful shit and superior in many ways to the sp experience

chaos even added co-op, they threw everything they had into that title

there's a group of guys and gals that play pretty regularly on pc (shared virtual lan)
mr mic's map pack is pretty legendary
 
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Bakkus

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To answer the question whether it was the first crowning jewel in Ubisoft's line up, I kindly point you towards the best Ubisoft game, which released several years earlier:
Is it true the best version of this is the DC version? That makes it hard nowadays to play this the best possible way.
 

Ozrimandias

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Jun 21, 2018
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It's gonna be the next Splinter Cell game that i'll play, ofcourse :messenger_beaming: Next year, most likely.
You haven't played Pandora Tomorrow? And Chaos Theory?.....because in Chaos Theory (with the Amon Tobin colaboration) really Splinter Cell reached a new level of perfection.




- Oh i got angry again, i can not believe that Ubisoft showed absolutey nothing of Splinter Cell again on E3
 
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synchronicity

Member
Dec 16, 2011
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Not commenting on the game itself, but just wanted to say I love threads that highlight / review a particular game from eras gone-by.

I know most everyone is interested in what's coming, but I really enjoy taking a (closer) look back as well, and focusing in on a single title is a fun way to do that.
 

TGO

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Aha yes, this was when Ubi was pushing the boundaries with graphics, shadow and light.
It was pretty impressive back then.
Although I was Solid Snake guy myself I enjoyed this approach
 
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MiyazakiHatesKojima

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Jan 11, 2019
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To answer the question whether it was the first crowning jewel in Ubisoft's line up, I kindly point you towards the best Ubisoft game, which released several years earlier:
I always wanted to play Rayman! I have it on my PS Plus list and heard it was an amazing platformer. Which platform did this come on?
 

Hudo

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Jul 26, 2018
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The first three Splinter Cell games are absolute stealth Kino. For me, they are a continuation of the stealth design that the Thief (1 and 2) games introduced back then (taking care of visibility, considering light and shadow, observing patterns/behaviours of enemies, taking care of sounds and being patient, avoiding combat because you are fragile as fuck).

Tell me people why many gamers say that Chaos theory is the best game of the saga?
Well, Chaos Theory was the first Splinter Cell where you could stab people with a knive, that was a mind-blowing evolution for Splinter Cell. Before that, hand-to-hand combat could only incapacitate enemies. If you wanted to kill them, you had to shoot them. But killing enemies isn't really the point of Splinter Cell. And yet, Chaos Theory managed to incorporate this while still making sense. Also, Chaos Theory's co-op mode was baller. I also think that it has the best level design in the series and basically perfects that classic, Thief-like stealth formula that later Splinter Cell games deviated from (for a more actiony approach).
 

jadefire66

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Jun 14, 2019
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Great game. Played the crap out of it back when it came out. It was super hard for me back then, but I managed to beat it. I also remember getting a new GPU for this game shortly after I started playing because I had terrible framerate. Good times.
 

MiyazakiHatesKojima

Gold Member
Jan 11, 2019
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I just played through it for the first time too. Like most games from 15+ years ago, I was expecting a clunky experience. Surprisingly, the game holds up great.
It definitely held up. I was shocked when i was playing this game, even when i played the PS4 at the same time as my playthroughs. Ubisoft Shanghai did a great job porting, despite the Xbox version being superior.