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Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (Xbox) artwork

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (Xbox) review


"Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell left me in awe. When it was released it was easily the best stealth game, and although it had a few shortcomings, its awesome aspects more than made up for them. The idea of stealth and using your environments had never been used this effectively, and I can still recall some of the awesome situations the game put you in. I remember creeping in the dark sewers trying to follow guards unaware of my presence, cutting through a courtyard filled with mines and sni..."



Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell left me in awe. When it was released it was easily the best stealth game, and although it had a few shortcomings, its awesome aspects more than made up for them. The idea of stealth and using your environments had never been used this effectively, and I can still recall some of the awesome situations the game put you in. I remember creeping in the dark sewers trying to follow guards unaware of my presence, cutting through a courtyard filled with mines and snipers, the “shootout” in the library, and much more. So obviously I was stoked when Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow was announced. This time a US Embassy building in East Timor was taken over by a bunch of terrorists under Suhadi Sadono. From there a great plot unfolds to the point where the United States (and the rest of the world) is in danger. And who else would be asked to perform such a task other than Sam Fisher, the well-trained spy of Third Echelon, a top-secret military organization whose job is to prevent terrorists from threatening the United States and the rest of the world.

Fisher’s basic moves/gadgets are pretty much the same as in Splinter Cell, but there are a few neat additions. First of all there is a completely revamped alarm system. Now whenever you’re spotted the alarm level increases by one, and if you pull three you lose (assuming this isn’t a mission in which you’re not allowed to pull any alarms). After every checkpoint the alarm level goes back to zero, which makes them much more forgiving than the original. Fisher also has quite a few new moves and gadgets at his disposal, including the ability to reach a higher platform by split-jumping, a S.W.A.T turn that’s used to pass by doorways without being seen, the ability to hang by his legs and shoot, a pair of binoculars so that you don’t have to use your rifle’s scope whenever you want to look ahead, and more. There are some helpful features added, such as a body stealth meter, which tells you if it’s safe to hide a body in a certain area and the ability to whistle in order to “lure” guards over to you so you can dispose them easier.

If you thought the levels in Splinter Cell were dull you won’t feel the same about Pandora Tomorrow. Instead of mostly taking place inside dull, giant buildings like the original game, you’ll be taken to all sorts of awesome locations, including Indonesia, France, Israel, East Timor, and even the United States. Instead of sneaking from room to room and doing the same stuff over and over again the environments will play a bigger factor than ever. In Indonesia you’ll have to use tall grass to hide from enemies, while in Jerusalem making use of the various ledges to avoid the deadly streets is vital. There are even several interesting obstacles to overcome, such as hiding from enemies during a lightning storm that will light up everything and sneaking through passenger carts on a train full of people who will have no problem squealing if they see you. In the matter of fact some of these levels, especially the train one are better than anything seen in the original Splinter Cell.

Perhaps one of the coolest new features is the multiplayer via XBox Live. Although it is now obsolete thanks to Chaos Theory, the third installment in the series, if you can find a game online (I’m not sure how many people still play it, it has been a while since I’ve had Live) it is definitely worth trying out. You are allowed to play as either the spies or the mercenaries in order to fulfill some sort of objective, and teamwork is vital. Both sides are fun to use; the mercenaries have some great weapons, but on the other hand the spies aren’t armed with any sort of lethal weapons. They rely on stealth and some cool gadgets, such as sticky cameras, flash bangs (a giant FLASH that blinds everyone in the room), and chaff and smoke grenades. I don’t want to talk about the missions since they do tie in with the single player story, but missions are usually something along the line of steal or defend something in a certain time limit. Teamwork is necessary to win, which makes it so awesome. Each mission also has multiple ways of accomplishing it, and most of the levels are great. It’s a blast.

But besides the multiplayer Pandora Tomorrow doesn’t break any new ground and offers more of the same. Although Fisher’s second outing is overall better than his first, I just wasn’t blown away the same way I was when I played Splinter Cell. Even with the multiplayer, new (and superior) levels, and new features it still feels like an expansion to the original and it seemed like I did everything before. The basic premise is the same, the controls are only slightly altered (I actually think I liked the controls in the first game better), and everything is still based on trial and error, even if the game is now more forgiving. I might have done everything before, but with something this awesome that’s certainly not a bad thing.

Rating: 9/10

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Community review by Halon (November 26, 2008)

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