Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Developer: Ubisoft Montrea
Players: 1 + Online Multi/Co-op
The newest Splinter Cell raises the bar in an already long line of successful predecessors; every aspect of the game has been tweaked and upgraded. Even the overheard guard chatter has been improved, from the impressively literate, “Education is the difference between a revolutionary and a terrorist” to the not-so-subtle cross-promotions “he’s got the new ‘Prince of Persia’. Can’t wait to play it.” Even the banter between Sam Fisher and HQ is often lighthearted and clever: When Sam asks if he needs a crowbar, they respond, “Crowbars are for geeky video game characters.” You are definitely smiling if you got the joke.
Another noticeable change right away is how you equip to start each mission. The player is given choices in stealth or assault options, or Redding’s Recommendation (somewhere between the two). This reflects another newly implanted style of game play in this Splinter Cell, with numerous different approaches through each level, so you can replay with varied styles.
And of course, new weapons. A combat knife makes for some great close combat and interrogation kills. Another new toy is the OCP, a pistol attachment that temporarily jams pesky cameras and knocks out electrical lights. But as always, the sticky cams, gas grenades and airfoil rounds make for strategically fun enemy eliminations. Speaking of enemies, there are noticeable AI improvements in Chaos Theory. The use of flares and flashlights and along with a more apprehensive approach in situations when alarmed makes for a more challenging adventure.
Multiplayer modes are still great, but the two player Co-op (splitscreen, systemlink or Xbox live) is really where it’s at. And a headset is a must. Impressively, the AI will actually hear you talking to your friend so you actually have to maintain radio silence when stalking enemies.
Graphics… are simply the best I’ve seen. This game was actually designed with the next generation consoles in mind and it shows. They really nailed… ‘wet’, but all the in-game environments should impress the Xbox veteran.
Another worth mentioning and often over looked aspect is the musical score. In much the same way it works in a movie, a tense moment is all the more high-strung with the proper mood music. A battle breaks out, the music shifts. Witness the brilliance it takes to not only compose the always perfectly matched score, but to code it so the music shifts and moves with the actual game flawlessly, creating a truly immersive gaming experience.
As with any Splinter Cell, the pace is obviously a bit slow. Constantly creeping around makes for some tension building scenes, but for the adrenaline junkie, the online play will be more fulfilling here.
Literally, as one of the best games ever made for the Xbox, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory delivers on every level. Get it.