Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3DESRB:
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Playable in 3D and 2D mode
Based on one of Splinter Cell’s most successful games (Chaos Theory), Splinter Cell 3D arrives just in time for the launch of the Nintendo 3DS. The game arrived with little in the way of hoopla which, in all honesty, had me a little suspicious. It is almost as if Ubisoft was trying to sneak one past us. Almost as if they had something to hide. This is obviously not the case, yet I remained skeptical and well for good reason. After some playtime with Splinter Cell 3D for the Nintendo 3DS, I now see why the hype train for this game never left the building.
Overall, Splinter Cell 3D is a decent looking game but it isn’t great. On the positive, fans of the franchise will recognize the game's main character, Sam Fisher, along with his trademark hunched over sneaky posture that is viewed in third person. Fans may also recognize some of the game's dark gloomy underground cave-like environments and other office building locales. They look good and are nicely detailed but you never truly get a chance to take in all the scenery. Why you ask? Splinter Cell 3D is a dark and somewhat gloomy game. If you ask me, it could have used a few more splashes of colour. Then again it is hard to knock a game for the lack of colour when you spend a great deal of time lurking in the shadows as Sam Fisher typical does. That being said, the level of detail in the game is better than I expected and it appears not much was left out in terms of visual details when you compare it to the PS2 version of the game.
Nevertheless, the game hardly pushes the limits of the 3DS hardware. I would be curious see what could have been done with this game with just a few more months of development time with the 3DS. The 3D effects are decent but not all that noticeable. On one hand, the game does not hurt your eyes; but on the other hand, I was left wanting more in terms of the 3D effects. One particular effect that did impress me was the projected text displayed in the game. This effect was first introduced in Splinter Cell Conviction for the Xbox 360. The effect is cool and works quite well in the 3DS.
Splinter Cell 3D is fairly basic in the sound department but I was happy to hear some really good voice acting. This has been a strong point for the franchise for years now and the legacy continues in Splinter Cell 3D. For starters, Michael Ironside does a great job as the voice of Sam Fisher and he sounds great on those tiny 3DS speakers. Not to mention some of the other voice acting in the game is also quite good. Sure the enemy AI sound a tad cheesy at times and the accents aren’t exactly spot on, nevertheless the voices rarely skip a beat and the sound is clear. Besides, at least this 3DS game doesn’t force you to read an endless stream of text dialogue.
The music on the other hand is a nuisance. It is repetitive, loops over and over and becomes incredibly annoying when you are spotted by the enemy as the music suddenly bursts into ‘hyper hypo’ mode. Whenever the music was amped-up, I was often fumbling around looking for the volume so I could just kill the noise. As for the in-game sound effects such as firing your weapon, explosions and other sounds typically heard in the series, they are about what I expected and they suit the game. They are just nothing incredibly innovative or noteworthy.
Unlike Splinter Cell Chaos Theory for the PlayStation 2, Splinter Cell 3D for the 3DS is strictly a single player experience. Chaos Theory for the PS2 features a co-op mode and an online multiplayer adversarial mode. Splinter Cell 3D is a stripped down version of its PS2 counterpart. Not to mention you are missing some of Fisher’s gadgets and the ability to save the game anywhere. Granted, I expected the game to be scaled back somewhat so it could fit on the 3DS but perhaps an original storyline, less troublesome controls and co-op feature might have made the game much more appealing to many. But before I get ahead of myself, let me just give you a bit of background in terms of the game's storyline.
Splinter Cell 3D takes place in 2007. You control Sam Fisher who is a field operative of the Third Echelon team which happens to be a highly secretive intelligence team. Sam is tasked with tracking down some kidnapped dude who holds some valuable intel of sorts. It is a rescue mission but also a mission where you have to recover some valuable information before it gets into the wrong hands, because if it does all hell will break lose. Meanwhile, tensions are growing in Asia and Sam’s “recovery/rescue” mission holds to key to ensuring the world doesn’t go at war.
That is the storyline in a nutshell that plays out like any typical Tom Clancy espionage plot line. It is nothing incredibly riveting but suits the game and plays as a nice backdrop to the real enjoyment of the game that involves progressing along the game's 10 locales in stealth like manner, solving puzzles and taking out baddies. On the surface, Splinter Cell 3D has all the ingredients to be a special game for the platform. Unfortunately, it was hard for me to get past those pesky and troublesome controls.
Moving Sam is accomplished by using the Circle pad, which works quite well. Unfortunately the camera is controlled by using the A, B, X and Y buttons. It makes the experience incredibly awkward and slows the game down as I found myself constantly fighting the controls. In tight spaces I found myself adjusting the camera just so I could see ahead. Far too often, my vision was impaired and much of this was due to the finicky camera controls. Clearly the game was meant to be played on a controller with dual sticks, so I give the developers kudos for attempting to re-create that feeling you get when playing on the Xbox 360. Nevertheless, for me I had nothing but problems.
The camera issues are most prevalent when the when alarms are sounded after being spotted as all hell breaks loose. I ended up falling off cliffs unintentionally and getting myself stuck in some dicey situations. It really became a frustrating experience for me.
As you play the game, accessing your weapons and other gadgets is accomplished by tapping the touch screen. Sure, you could use your fingers which would make the experience seamless; however, if you recently dropped over $250 bucks for your 3DS you likely won’t be so keen on getting fingerprints all over your touch screen. So your only other option is using your stylus which unfortunately interrupts the play. Having to stop what I was doing just to access the stylus just felt awkward and unnatural. Other actions such as jumping, ducking and reloading are accomplished using the D-Pad. Again, these actions are typically left for the buttons on a next-generation console controller. So using the D-Pad seemed out of place for me. To make matters worse, aiming your gun is also accomplished by using the camera controls. In any event, there is no need to beat a dead horse. Clearly I had issues with the game's controls and at the end of the day I felt they could have been refined.
If you can get past the controls and actually become effective with them, the single player campaign itself is quite deep. There is also plenty of variety as well. Whether it be picking a lock with the circle pad, taking out an enemy, making your way across a building undetected or solving simple puzzles, Splinter Cell 3D packs a lot into its single player experience. The main objective 90% of the time is to remain hidden free from detection of the enemies; however, Splinter Cell 3D offers up enough variety to keep you interested until the end.
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