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Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Ubisoft Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Action/ Stealth/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
How a game can look so gorgeous on one platform (Xbox), and look absolutely horrible in some instances on another (PS2) blows my mind. Let me clarify. While this PS2 version of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory looks pretty good visually as you’re roaming around with a normal view, it looks like total crap when looking through your night vision view. Is this a problem? Absolutely, since most of the sneaking around you do requires the green goggles due to darkness, and it’s often extremely hard to see while wearing them (see Gameplay below).

On the auditory front, our hero not only sounds good, but needs to sound good. Chaos Theory doesn’t just use its sound fx to please the gamer, but it is an integral part of the game. Making too much noise raises awareness of guards and other baddies, but it goes beyond that due to ambient sounds. The entire audio experience is a big, big plus.

Once again Sam Fisher returns in Tom Clancy’s third Splinter Cell installment. Taking place in 2007, Ubisoft has once again upped the ante of how a great game should play in the way of stealth movement and spy-oriented action. Chaos Theory raises the bar in not only the single-player game, but also the multi-player experience.

If you haven’t been cut off from the gaming world civilization, you know that the Splinter Cell games have revolutionized stealth-action gaming. Chaos Theory is no different. While much of the solo game remained in tact (for good reason, mind you), there are a couple of innovations new to the franchise. As with many games out there, the amount of noise created while walking on different surfaces changes. The twist with Chaos Theory, however, is that ambient noise also affects Sam’s stealth. In other words, if you’re walking through an area with loud machinery, you’ll see that the meter on the screen allows our hero be much noisier, and still go undetected.

In addition to the solo missions, you and a friend can work together in the Cooperative mode. This split-screen action is a blast because you not only have to cover each other and quickly heal a dying partner, but you also have the ability to use each other’s bodies. By working together, you’re able to perform two-player-only actions like climbing to new heights, rappelling in otherwise unavailable areas, and launching one another across inaccessible areas. Unfortunately, the PlayStation 2’s solo missions are typically a series of very short sub-missions that get done far too quickly. For those of you who can’t play nicely together, you can head online to once again enjoy Spies vs. Mercenaries multiplayer action.

Some of the greatest features of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory are in that you can use your environment to your advantage. Interacting allows you to perform insane moves to gain position for a kill, or to be able to interact with your enemy in other ways. It’s even possible to interrogate, kill, or knock out your enemies with the quick press of a button.

But with all of the glory that is Chaos Theory, it’s not without its problems. The biggest comes in the form of the night vision goggles. While it’s understandable that looking toward a light source would impair your vision, there are so many “hot spots” within the game that your screen gets completely washed out, making it next to impossible to know where to walk. These bright white areas don’t just come from lights either. There are often areas that wash out the screen, even when not looking directly into the light.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory offers the same type of difficulty that many games offer: try and try again. Okay, sometimes you’re able to breeze through levels without issue. But other times, you may find yourself replaying levels because you made too much noise or didn’t choose the best path. You also have to be sure to make one-shot kills in many instances, or face the wrath of multiple enemies bearing down on you. In short, Chaos Theory has just about the perfect level of difficulty to emphasize the stealth aspect of the game.

Game Mechanics:
When it comes to control, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory delivers precise movement and outstanding button layout. All of Sam’s moves are at your fingertips. The only time where the controls are less than perfect are during co-op campaigns. This mode often requires that one player perform an action in a precise location and having the other player perform an action to make the two work together. This takes a bit of getting used to, but in the end, is well worth it.

As a whole, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is a great game with great gameplay. Unfortunately, since you spend most of your time in the dark with your night goggles activated, it’s hard to give Chaos Theory the score that it likely deserves. But since this flaw affects gameplay to an extreme, it’s also hard not to give it the score it really deserves. If you only own PlayStation 2, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is a great game overall, minus its night vision flaw. But if you have a choice, do yourself a favor and pick up the beautiful Xbox version.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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