Splinter Cell 3 Review

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Graphics: 9.5
Sound : 10
Gameplay : 9.0
Multiplayer : 8.5
Overall : 9.5
Review by Andy Levine
The latest installment in the Splinter Cell series, Chaos Theory, is a game every action fan should play. You continue the espionage lifestyle of Sam Fisher, a deadly secret agent with a suave attitude. Utilizing your surroundings, your equipment, and help from a few people back at the headquarters, you’ll find yourself in all sorts of different environments trying to resolve the death of a man named Morgenholt. Whether you enjoy getting in close range firefights with enemies, or if you prefer to take a stealthier approach, Chaos Theory can be enjoyed by a very wide audience.

Chaos Theory is a third person shooter game that suggests you use stealth to complete your missions. By lurking in the shadows, disabling alarms, and hacking through keypads, you must infiltrate the enemy territory without leaving any note of your existence. While you’ll be tempted to jump right into the action, it’s recommended that you view all of the training videos included with the game, and even some of the NSA training videos that can be downloaded. These tutorials show different techniques you can use throughout your campaign with the Third Echelon agency. Once you have familiarized yourself with the game, you can jump right into the action.

Fisher has a whole load of techniques he has mastered in Chaos Theory, and this makes him deadlier than ever. You still have the basic moves, such as using his ambidextrous abilities to switch your weapon hand, allowing you to see around corners better. The ever popular tuck-and-roll is a must for any spy game, as is the quiet stealth walk. Fisher also knows a great deal about how to eliminate his enemies. While shooting them in the head is the most common, it’s much more fun to find different ways to take out the mercenaries. If you sneak up quietly, you can grab the characters and use them as a human shield. From this point, you can fire at enemies using your pistol, and unless your opponent aims directly at your head you should be well covered. You can also interrogate the hostage in order to gain information about your surroundings and the people running the operation. If the information appears to be valid, you can be nice and only render him unconscious. However, if the man refuses to speak you can slit his throat with your knife and leave him lifeless. Other moves include knocking out enemies by jumping on them from above, a quick stab of the knife to their throat, or you can steer clear of the whole situation and sneak past them. Whatever you feel like doing, you’ll find that you won’t get bored finding ways to overcome your adversaries.

There are many obstacles Fisher will face throughout his journeys, and while some might seem unconquerable, every problem has a solution. Two techniques that must be mastered are lock picking and hacking. Lock picking, as the name implies, allows you to unlock locked doors and further move on. Hacking computers, such as keypads and retina scanners, give you access to top secret areas, which most of your missions will have. What’s really amazing about Chaos Theory is how interactive the environment is. You can pick up small glass bottles and throw them, and when they shatter your enemies will actually be distracted and deviate from their original paths. Fisher can rappel from buildings, but more importantly he can climb them. Using structures, such as drainage pipes, he can climb to areas the average man wouldn’t be able to reach. Glass can be shattered in order to break into buildings, but doing this might set off an alarm. The best part about using your environment is the ability to kill people using it. If you are hanging from a ledge, you can whistle to your enemies, and he will come over, look over the edge, and won’t even notice a thing. From here, you can grab his legs, flip him over the railing, and send him on a long journey to the earth. Disposing of corpses is vital to the success of your mission; if you leave even one foot showing, expect a search party to come after you. Even though a true spy would put an unconscious corpse in a storage closet, it’s much more fun to toss the corpse over a railing and admire the ragdoll physics. If you manage to use all of these abilities to secretly complete your objectives, you will obtain a high mission rating from the menu. The mission rating doesn’t actually matter though, as you can successfully complete all of the objectives and still receive a 0% ranking if you hit enough of the alarms. If you want to obey the code that every spy lives by, you must master each and every one of Fisher’s skills.

The sound effects were meticulously created in order to create an authentic espionage experience. By monitoring the ambient sound around you, Fisher will be able to move faster in different situations. Ambient sound includes the entire environment around you; if there is a thunderstorm, Fisher will be able to move faster than if his mission took place in silence. What’s even more amazing is that different surfaces make different noises as you walk on them. Walking on solid pavement can go relatively undetected, while walking on an iron grid will make a lot of noise even at slow speeds. Due to all of this, you’ll be immersed in the environment, and using sound against the enemy will make missions a lot easier to complete.

Chaos Theory is easily one of the best looking games on the market today. Fisher’s model reflects light, which will effect how visible he is. All of the animations are nice and clean, which is very impressive considering all of the different ways it’s possible to interact with objects. Every drop of rain can be seen falling from the sky, and you can even see the droplets splash as they come in contact with the ground. Hiding Fisher in the shadows is an important part of the gameplay; not only does it help you hide, but it allows you to see enemies. Light fixtures from different elevations can create shadows over twenty feet long, easily allowing you to see where the enemy is located without becoming visible. The textures are really accentuated with the help of the lighting effects as well. In some of the darker levels you’ll have to turn your night vision on and off constantly, which makes you wish some of the levels could be a little bit brighter. Other than this, Chaos Theory makes for a truly breathtaking experience.

Chaos Theory has both online multiplayer mode and a special co-op campaign. The online multiplayer is very similar to that of Pandora Tomorrow, with the only noticeable difference being a few new maps. Memorizing the map is the key to success, and if you ever find yourself lost, keep an eye out for openings such as open crawl spaces. While the online mode hasn’t improved much, it can be fun at times to play, but it isn’t outstanding. The co-op allows you to player with another human in a specially created co-op campaign. You must work together in order to overcome obstacles by doing things such as launching your partner over walls that couldn’t be jumped over before. Again, the co-op campaign has its moments, but it’s rather short and very much like the single player campaign, so don’t expect an entirely new experience.

In conclusion, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is the best espionage game on the market today. You'll keep telling yourself it’s just a video game, but you'll still have the urge to creep quietly in the shadows for the fear of your life. Fans of the previous installments will have no trouble diving right into Ubisoft's latest and (thus far) best entry into the Splinter Cell series, but newcomers need not worry: Chaos Theory can be enjoyed by just about anyone interested in interactive entertainment.