I could take this opening paragraph and bitch about how much I despise shoddy ports, or how much I don’t like the fact that money runs the gaming industry but alas I will leave that to my column. Instead I want to talk about how much this game has changed the genre, how innovative it was the the gaming industry, as well as how much fun it is to be a secret agent. Blasting onto XBox late last year Splinter Cell was an instant classic, noticed for it’s incredible visuals and loved for it’s great gameplay and stealth tactics. Now Cube and PS2 owners are blessed with their own version of the game and I can safely say that the fun has been transferred over perfectly, now if only they could do the visuals. Technical flaws aside I delve once again into one of the best action games to come along since Metal Gear, Splinter Cell for the PS2 and Gamecube!
Creep Into The Fake Shadows..
The one thing that SC has been known for is it’s incredible lighting effects. No other game has been able to reproduce such filtering and shadow effects to this day and it could be a long time before we see anything that looks this good again. That said the PS2 and Cube versions still look good respectively. The PS2 version uses a fake lighting effect that almost simulates the effect with a few flaws such as false shadow casting. Sam can sometimes have a light on his face when not even facing the light source. This is truly a nitpick and something PS2 owners never blessed to see the XBox version will not even notice. The rest of the game still looks damn good, in fact aside from Metal Gear and Zone Of The Enders this could be one of the better looking PS2 games to date. The same goes for the Cube version, my only complaint is that the Cube is capable of doing better lighting. Unfortunately the developers opted to port the PS2 version alas we get a sharper onscreen resolution and brighter lighting. The levels are massive and highly detailed so most gamers will not even notice the differences. The only true flaw is the game can crawl in the frame rate department when in intense situations but this is almost expected on PS2 nowadays.
Sam Fisher is also hand animated just like in the box version, this means that no motion capture was used. This gave the developers the ability to make Sam do things more lifelike and fluidly. This also eliminated the shortage of motions his character had so the transfer from a standing position to a crouch looked more realistic instead of a motion change. The extra touches like this are what make Splinter Cell stand out. The environments on top of being absolutely huge are also interactive. Worried about being seen in the next hallway, simply shoot out the lights and move silently into the shadows, this is what sets SC apart from others in the genre. The added level also sports a new element to the SC universe in the form of snow. The PS2 has handled it very nicely but I am sad to say that the Cube version is sans the extra level. Where is the Cube love guys??
Playing SC on the Cube and PS2 was definitely a different experience because of the controllers. After spending countless hours with the XBox version I was so accustomed to the button layout that I had trouble at first adapting. First off creeping along the walls was imperative to the game and I wasn’t pleased with the placement of that button on the PS2. You had to click in on one of the analog sticks to achieve it. The roll also seemed harder to achieve than in the box version but alas it’s all about learning and adapting. After even more hours of play time I grew to like the control scheme on both the PS2 and Cube, in fact the Cube layout is a touch better than the XBox version in some respects. The response time on the PS2 version seems a bit faster as well which helps in sticky situations when split second timing is required. The aiming is still a bit touchy just like in the box version but if you play the game long enough you get used to it.
The coolest thing about Splinter Cell is everything that Sam Fisher can do, in some games you say I wish I could take that baddie hostage and then hold up the other guy. Things like this are all up to you in Splinter Cell, the game gives you almost limitless options on how to handle each situation. Say you see a group of guards standing in a puddle of water simply take a sticky shocker and lunge it into the water shocking every enemy at once. These are typical scenarios in SC and are what make the game so damn much fun to play through over and over. With spot on control and the ability to almost anything Splinter Cell achieves gaming bliss in more ways than one.
Sounds Like A Winner..
The sounds in SC are superb, actually that is putting it lightly. Getting the gritty and talented Michael Ironside to voice our semi-hero Sam Fisher makes him the second biggest badass on PS2, only behind the legend Solid Snake himself. The enemy chatter is also excellent using top notch actors and actresses and using authentic dialogue and language sets the mood perfectly. The one thing I do miss is the Crystal Method opening from the box version, that song had me wanting to whoop terrorist ass right away. We are of course treated with a more in depth cut scene explaining more of the story now though so it’s alright heh. The music in the game is also fitting, deep orchestral bliss floods this game and makes you feel right in the middle of the action. All presented in Dolby Pro Logic II on both systems.
Stealth Action Re-Worked
I have to give credit where it’s due, the team hired to put this game onto the PS2 and Cube has done an amazing job. Capturing what made the game great in the first place was top priority and they achieved that without a hitch. Technical limitations aside this game looks great, while not as good as the XBox version we can deal. If you have yet to play this game then now is your chance. One of the finest games of 2003 and sure to be one of the greats of 2004 on the other consoles this game is a definite purchase no matter which console you own. Taking the stealth genre up a notch SC is sure to be a classic and we can’t wait to get our hands on the next game in the series, until then we go back to enjoying the new levels in the XBox version and the PS2 version respectively. Highly Recommended!