Tuesday, September 29

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow Review

I played on: Xbox
I paid: £1
Available on: Xbox, PS3, PC
Notes: There exist three versions of the original Splinter Cell, Version 1 on the Xbox, PS3 and PC and Version 2 on the Gamecube and PS2, and lastly the Gameboy Advance Version. This review is for Version 1 only.

The original Splinter Cell was a fantastic game that rivalled both Hitman and Metal Gear Solid in terms of quality gameplay. Pandora Tomorrow came soon after and was developed by Ubisoft Shanghai instead of Ubisoft Montreal like the first game. The Shanghai team was responsible for version 2 of the original Splinter Cell on the PS2 and Gamecube so this wasn’t their first time with the series. Still, this was a quick turn around between games, the question is, did it affect the finished product?

The gameplay here is very similar to the first game. You’re a modern ninja working for the USA and as such light is your biggest concern. Shooting out lights, simply turning them off and generally sticking to shadows is how you remain hidden. During certain outdoor missions removing light sources won’t be an option so hiding in tall grass or crossing over and under guards will be your only way forward. This isn’t the only new addition to gameplay as a few quality-of-life changes have been made. You can now open doors while carrying bodies, the light indicator will flash to let you know when an area is dark enough to hide a body and your pistol has a laser sight to assist in aiming. Because of all of these changes Pandora Tomorrow is a much smoother experience than its predecessor.

This carries over to the action set-pieces which are much better than during the first game. Instead of shootouts with controls designed for slow silent movement, most of the action is now based around stealth. For example, one mission has you sneaking around a cramped moving train. To avoid both civilians and enemies you will have to move underneath, on top of and around the sides of the train. Only a single mission felt like it fell into the negative shootouts of the first game. It's good to see Sam Fisher sticking to what he’s best at.

The story is similar to the first game in the sense that it’s a typical Tom Clancy style political/military thriller. Events from the first game are mentioned and even have an impact on events during this one. I like this continuity; it makes the world and history feel more real and grounded. This is something I hope to see continue as the series goes on.

I went into Pandora Tomorrow expecting it to be the weakest of the original trilogy, but I was surprised to find it was marginally better than the original. The action is toned down, the stealth is much more of a focus and the gameplay feels more refined. This game isn’t groundbreaking, but it feels like a more polished version an already good game. If you’re a fan of stealth, then I’d say this is well worth a playthrough.

Recommendation Rating: 8 out of 10

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