The original Splinter Cell was released almost 17 years ago and in some ways time hasn’t been kind to this game. First off this is the HD remaster for the PlayStation 3 which in itself is a port of the PC version and not actually the PS2 edition.
Graphically the HD update does this game wonders. It looks like it could have been released in the early days of the PS3 and not the beginning of the PS2s life cycle. This is a testament to the games original graphical prowess, pushing consoles to the limit many years prior. The only issue I had with the graphics was in some scenes mouth movement was very strange, somewhat akin to South Park mouth movement which seemed odd considering the rest of the graphical quality.
Gameplay wise is a bit of a mixed bag, on one side the sneaking and spying can be fun and makes you feel like a real secret agent however games such as Metal Gear and Hitman did it better, even back then. There is a fine line between being invisible and silent to suddenly being noticed by everyone. The use of darkness for cover is a good concept and hiding bodies I found did not always work as the main place to hide was in the shadows which weren’t always reliable.
Despite the fun aspect of some of the gameplay, the game became very frustrating when guards inexplicably spot you, which in some missions immediately results in game over. This could also be a problem with regards to the save mechanic. Splinter Cell gives you the ability to save anywhere which I often enjoy but could also lead to getting stuck in certain situations with no way out but to reload the level and with some levels being quite long this could be an issue. I also had several issues with the quick load function not always loading the right save file and one time loading my save resulted in the game stopping and going back to the PS3 home screen.
Splinter Cell was not designed for combat, which considering that it is a stealth game makes sense. However what doesn’t make sense is the games later levels relying on shootouts. As the game wasn’t made for this kind of gameplay. This made these sections increasingly hard and frustrating. The controls are easy enough but occasionally inconsistent in response. The variety of moves Splinter Cells protagonist, Sam Fisher, has at his disposal are pretty varied but I rarely found use for such moves like the split jump to hide from enemies and often found myself accidentally jumping to my doom when trying to get to a higher location.
The story of Splinter Cell is standard for a spy game, bad guy from a foreign country wants to take over the world/start a war. It’s a story you’ve seen in movies and games before and doesn’t break the wheel in this instance either. I often found myself confused as to why Sam was doing certain things and unfortunately given the basic storyline this meant that locations where also pretty similar providing a severe lack of variety.
Splinter Cell has it’s strong points, but also has several draw backs. I can see how playing it when it was released would have been pretty revolutionary given the graphics and gameplay abilities but even then certain aspects such as the reliance on shootouts when the gameplay doesn’t match and boring story with equally boring settings let it down.
+ Fun gameplay (for the most part)
+ Great graphics
– Boring story
– Mediocre locations
– Occasionally dodgy controls
– Insistence on gameplay that doesn’t fit the rest of the game.