This weeks cold-open is rather scatter-shot…
I have come to the realisation that, in terms of the UK game industry, I’m sort of jaded. Not sure why. I think it’s because a lot of the UK companies I grew up with are gone or changed hands. Edios went the way of Bullfrog and Codemasters like others were bought (internationally) out. The UK doesn’t have many independent studios left (Long Live Team17!) that fight in the big leagues. Before you comment “the GTA developer Rockstar North is from the UK”, they may not come September if they leave the union. (R*North is based in Glasgow, Scotland.) So with the closure of Crytek UK, or moving if the Deep Silver Dambusters Studio re-hiring happens (it’s unconfirmed as of writing), there is a tint of sadness at how the UK industry has changed in my lifetime. But through my rose-tinted glasses I can see a new generation of UK developers so there at least hope that the industry won’t crunch down as developers move abroad. With that sentiment, it’s time to move on to the review part of this review…
Title: “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow”
Developer: Ubisoft Shanghai/Milan
Released: March 2004
“Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow” (god that is a long title) is the first game I finished in the 12 – 24 hour mark. A feat that wouldn’t happen again until I got a PS3 and played “Battlefield 3”. It was a boring summer so I started a new game when I woke up one day, and had finished it by the time dinner was being served. It was the first ‘Splinter Cell’ game I played so when I saw its predecessor, just called “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell”, going cheep I got that and it was quite a different experience. Out of the two I prefer the first in the series. The second, “Pandora Tomorrow”, is graphically superior and has more things that made the latter games good, but most of the levels are linear corridors with the ‘use gadget on man’ motif which is boring. Considering the ‘gadget’ in question was usually the one-shot electro-stun rifle which knocks people out and has common ammo pick-ups, or just the traditional silenced pistol if you don’t mind getting blood on you lapels as you carry copses to the nearest room where you can shoot out the lights and hide the bodies in the darkness.
The best example I can give as a comparison is the “Metal Gear Solid” series. You start at location A and are tasked with getting to location B that has enemies between. While in ‘MGS’ you have to be as sneaky as possible as your de-marked if you kill/be seen/set off alarms, in ‘Pandora Tomorrow‘ you can do what you like as long as you get to point B. There is no challenge. I tried doing that in the first ‘Splinter Cell’ and all hell broke lose and I was swiftly eliminated.
One of the things that was added in ‘Pandora Tomorrow‘ was the now popularised athletics, like the half-split jump were Fisher does the splits to hold himself up in a thin corridor. While it was an impressive add, they didn’t add any changes to routines of the enemies. In the first game, you would be trapped in a tight corridor and had to hurriedly work out what to do next in a moment of tension. In the second, you’d just run up the wall, to a half-split jump, wait until he passed, drop down and then have your way with him. Or you can just shot him while in the air because they decided that the move wasn’t powerful enough.
With that said, the rest of the game is very good. The graphics are great. There is even a HD PlayStation Classics re-release on the PS3 for those who just can’t bare (for whatever reason) to look at PS2 era graphics. The lead voice of Sam Fisher was again voiced by Michael Ironside (he was only replaced by Eric Johnson in last year) who does a great job. The story falters a bit but in the era of ‘New Cold War’ like storylines that Call of Duty and Battlefield had recently its at least a change to have a sneaky spy story.
To round this off, “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow” (that still is a really long title) is much like the first. They polished the graphics, which is good, and added a few things, which is a mixed bag. It may be a bit easy for some, it was for me, and it may leave some people acking for a more complex experance. To give it some sort of recomendation, it is a good place to enter the “Splinter Cell” series if your new to the sneaky ninja style of games. “Metal Gear Solid” is confusing unless you’ve taken the short course into Hideo Kojima mind and most modern stealth games are action games with steath elements which is just not the same. “Splinter Cell” is still one of the series’ that can brandish the ‘stealth game’ branding and not get funny looks. So while “Pandora Tomorrow” may fall town the table of “Splinter Cell” games, at least it is still stealth game.