Flashback Review (Video Games) – TOM CLANCY’S SPLINTER CELL: CHAOS THEORY

Splinter cell franchise is one of my favorite video game coming from Ubisoft and it is also one of my favorite trilogies from Tom Clancy’s masterpiece. I played it a lot on my PlayStation 2 back at home when I was in high school. It was a fun experience for me because at that time, I had never seen any games like that. Been able to hide in shadow, control your noise and complete the mission without killing anyone is what makes Splinter Cell so fun and challenging at the same time.  Is like the player become the ‘American Ninja’.

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Many of hardcore fans said that Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is the best in the series because of numbers of different reasons. Some said the dialogues and writing is the best, gameplay, voice acting and many more. But, is it true? Let’s find out.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is a stealth game that was released in March 2005 by Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Milan for Xbox, PS2, Gamecube, PC, Nintendo DS and mobile.

STORY

The story takes place in 2007, tensions are raise between China, North Korea, South Korea and Japan when the involvement of information warfare that led United States, South Korea and North Korea to the brink of war. While China and North Korea created a blockade in the Yellow Sea against Japan because of the formation of Information Self-Defense Force (I-SDF) that both of that countries claimed that Japan are to be blame for the information warfare.

It is Sam Fisher and NSA’s Third Echelon job to find out who is the one is responsible for this madness. As far as the story goes, I think it has a pretty standard decent plot for a military espionage game. It is not bad or good just average. But the dialogue writings in here are more polish than the first two games that’s for sure.

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The dialogues can have a humor, serious and awkwardness that are sometimes is interesting to listen. And it is not only limited to a dialogue conversations between main protagonist and the side characters but also between the enemies itself. When the player get to capture one of them, player are enable to interrogate them. Other than provide an information sometimes they also can come up with a hilarious dialogue like at one time the enemy are happy to be captured by Sam Fisher because he believe ninja do exist while he argue that his friends do not believe ninja exist. Because he was so happy, he honor himself to be killed by Sam Fisher. For the most part, the dialogues in the gameplay is what makes it memorable to me.

GAMEPLAY

If you are familiar with Splinter Cell games, you already know that stealth is the key to success in this game. You need to hide in a shadow to be undetected by the enemies, control your movement noise so that you can get pass them like a ghost. But in Chaos Theory, unlike the first two games games which is Splinter Cell and Pandora Tomorrow, there is a lot of improvement in here.

Player are able to choose the equipment before jump into the mission. Player can choose assault equipment, stealth equipment or recommended equipment. Usually, assault will give player more standard bullet ammo but less on non-lethal ammo like sticky shocker, ring airfoil and sticky camera, this type of equipment also give player a shotgun and sniper attachments for SC-20K rifle.

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Stealth equipment will give player less standard bullet ammo but more non-lethal ammo and also provide with launcher and foregrip attachments. Whereas for recommended equipment, it will give a fairness amount of bullets and non-lethal rounds with launcher and foregrip (sometimes shotgun) attachments. Player can switch between these two attachments on-the-go.

Other than SC-20K rifle, player will bring a 5.7 handgun with a suppressor and a new gadget attached on the pistol named OCP (Optically Channeled Potentiator) which can let the player to disable cameras, lights and other electronic devices for a few seconds. This is a big change and also a big help for a Splinter Cell players because in the last two games, player need to shoot the lights which can make the enemies to go caution. With the new gadget, player can easily disable the lights and get pass through them unnoticed.

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Other than a new attachments and gadget, another addition to Chaos Theory is a knife. Player can choose to either kill or use non-lethal (hand-to-hand) attack that will not kill them. Player have a freedom to use lethal or non-lethal attacks although there are some missions that required player to use only non-lethal. If player get detected by enemies, an alarm will be activate and each time alarm get raised, enemies will be on high security alert and they will wear a ballistic vest and a helmet which can be hard to kill. If alarm get activated for five times, mission failed.

It will not be a Splinter Cell game without an iconic Sam Fisher’s multi-vision goggles. This time around it will not only provide with night vision and thermal vision but another new vision called sonar. Sonar vision will let player to detect electronic devices like computer, lights and camera which is a perfect combination with the use of OCP on a pistol.

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Sam Fisher’s camera goggle in here also has an extra function too. Other than just use to recon, it also can be use to tap on a computer from a distance which is big help if you do not want to tap a computer near your enemy. Tapping into a computer can provide player with information and can be use for hacking.

There are three difficulty that can be choose which is normal, hard and expert. Player can run, crouch, roll and jump to an objects like walls and pipes to climb. Player can also control Sam Fisher’s movement by using a roll on a mouse or manually using joystick to control noise movement.

Other than main objective, player can also complete secondary objectives which involves interrogate certain people, tapping phone lines, retrieve information or things and many more. Completing all the secondary objectives along with the main one will give a high statistics score at the end of every mission.

There are various locations that player will get to go like in Manhattan, Seoul, Hokkaido, North Korea, Myanmar and Peru. All of the locations provide player with different routes to approach the mission that they wanted. Whether they want to go full stealth, be a ghost or go guns-blazing but it can a high risk. So the best way to balance between stealth and assault is to use lethal force while maintain in a shadow.

GRAPHICS

For the HUD, what is lacking in other two games is noise meter which is why Ubisoft added it in Chaos Theory. In the past, it was hard to measure the character’s movement to know whether or not Sam is moving fast or slow. With the addition of noise meter, measuring noise movement can be done easily. Also, the design of HUD in here is slick and simple with a rectangle box and provide a clear information for with the use of right color and font.

Light and shadow play a big part in Splinter Cell and so in Chaos Theory they polished and upgrade the light and shadow system to be more smooth and clear. The weather effects like wind when it hits a fabric and rain in addition with the movement of ocean in Peru also are good looking and smooth for its times.

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This is the first time in the series it use a ragdoll physics where it has a pretty decent animations but can be hilarious at some point. The lip sync can sometimes do not match with the actor’s dialogue in the gameplay. But in the cut scenes is okay. The cut scenes are also good for the most part with a good character models and the normal use of colors for the environment.

MUSIC, SOUND EFFECTS AND VOICE

Music for Chaos Theory was composed by Amon Tobin and Jesper Kyd. For the most part, every mission has its own soundtrack that resemble on the theme and environment of that location. It has a combination of ambient sound with a electronic, dark, mystery and vibrant feeling to it. What is more interesting is, the music react to player’s actions. If the player try to sneak pass through undetected, the music will start slow and chill. But as the player are alerted to the enemies, the music start to create a sound that can give a player some tension and thrill to it. But, when player got detected by the enemies, the music starts fast with the combination of electronic sound and drum that creates a sound of action and fast heart beat feeling.

The sound effects is good for overall, from the gun sound to a sound of cracking glass are all captured well done. For voice, all the voice actor and actress done pretty good job especially Michael Ironside as Sam Fisher and Claudia Besso as Anna Grimsdottir, these two are the best duo in this game, without both of them, the game feels incomplete without their voices.

FINAL VERDICT

Story: 3 / 5

Gameplay: 5 / 5

Graphics: 4 / 5

Music, Sound, Voice:  5 / 5

Overall: 8 / 10

 

 

 

 

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