Months before release there has been much hype for this game. With countless screenshots of amazing lighting effects and character moves which made people gasp, we all wondered whether the game could live up to its claims. Here we find out.
Now most of us have already seen the screenshots and maybe played the demo so we have had a good taste of what the full retail game has to offer.
To start off with the graphics are just as amazing as the hype has suggested time and time again. The lighting, shadows and fire effects are something you would normally only expect to see on recent computer animated movies, but somehow they have got the Xbox to sing just as spectacular.
When I first played the game I was blown away with the lighting effects. Other games have touched the area with real-time shadows but it was very unatmospheric, well at least nowhere near as atmospheric as this! If you ever wanted to be the master of stealth even Hitman 2 can’t compete with this masterpiece of visual delights. The rush of adrenaline as a guard walks underneath you as you are right above him aiming to blow his head off and then sneak his corpse into a nearby cupboard is just so well done you wonder where this game has been hiding all these years (sorry about the pun :) )
Graphically the game thrusts you into all sorts of spectacular moments such as the beaming sun rushing in through a window casting light and shadows all over, all in real-time which makes it all so jaw-dropping. Thermal imaging and night goggles add another graphical taster of things to come. It is one of those games where you stop and stare and the beauty which normally leads to a very quick death as you are caught off guard. I could go on about the graphics all day they are really that good.
Fire is one of those game effects which look either ok or look amazingly dull. This game sticks one finger up to all the others and shoves fire effects even fire fighters would be fooled into thinking was real. Graphically I am really trying hard to find a flaw but I am still looking and nothing, and I mean nothing, has disappointed me. Character animation is fluid and smooth with polygons a plenty. Fluid movement is vital for a game like this as it demands animation to encourage stealthily moving around in the shadows otherwise just the slightest flaw would stick out like a sore thumb.
I’m surprised with so many movements that mistakes haven’t been made. This game has had a lot of time put in to make it convincing and their efforts were worth it. The Tombraider series I remember always added a couple of new moves every game to add more interest in a failing series. Splinter Cell has thrown in so many moves they are going to be hard pushed to add many more. This is really a serious game for the purist of us.
Included in the move list are such abilities as drain pipe climbing, rope sliding, standing up against walls, shooting around corners and not forgetting the jumping up onto 2 walls in close proximity and stretching your legs out onto each wall and wait for that guard to pass right beneath your legs. Stunning stuff indeed.
Level design another key factor that could have let this game down hasn’t been ignored and has enjoyed the same treatment as everything else in the game. With some truly imaginative ideas in each level you will play these levels over and over earning perfection as there are so many ways you could complete sections that it is very likely you will keep trying just to see which is the most effective.
The controls are fairly straight forward and to say there are so many variations on the game it is yet another credit to the game creators abilities to make this game very pleasurable and interesting. Don’t get me wrong the actual game is very hard if you do not work on your skills of stealth. There are not just guards to avoid, oh no, you also have things like CCTV cameras to contend with. There are three ways to get around these. The first is to shoot out the lights so you can slowly pass in the dark without you being noticed, the other is to simply shoot it out but that isn’t always possible as on later levels they have a heavy protective casing that can withstand your gunshots. The third is in stages to hide behind crates, walls and whatever else you can find.
The only criticism here is that you have very little ammo for your gun, but this just encourages you to take out guards by other means such as grabbing them from behind, but it doesn’t stop there. You can also grab a person and interrogate them for information, knock them out or, even cooler, use them as human shields. Another fun part is if there is a locked door in other games that would normally mean they couldn’t be bothered to detail another room so they make it inaccessible, not in this game. A lot of doors can be opened with your trusty lock pick. Using the left analogue stick you have to carefully move around until you find the controller vibrate, then with even finer precision moving until you here a click. This is even more fun when you hear the footsteps of a guard around the corner coming towards you.
The music all helps the mood of the game and the sound effects are all unique to this game and have been written from scratch.
What a game. Every area has been lovingly worked on to create a game that even a perfectionist can enjoy without the smallest of whimpers. Gaming heaven has arrived in the form of Splinter Cell.