Welcome to part two of the Splinter Cell ranking. As always, you can find the rank itself here, and this blog acts as the reasoning for my ranking. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Taking place two years after the events of the first game, Sam Fisher is back again saving the world from an international threat. This time, it’s against a man named Suhadi Sadano, leader of an anti-separatist Indonesian militia who is against the U.S. because they backed the other side. As…”insurance,” Sadano pans to plant bombs with chicken pox across the U.S. that will blow if he dies. It’s up to Sam to save the world.
I won’t lie when I say I pretty much ignored the story. It isn’t complex to a point where it lost me or anything like that, I just eventually stopped caring because I wanted to play the game. The story feels like a pretty generic spy story, saving the world in secrecy and all. I want to say that the previous story was more complex than this story, but it doesn’t really matter to me. The one thing I will say that relates to the story that has been fixed are video cutscenes. They played at a different resolution in the previous game, which led to a lot of annoyance as the application tried to change size to fit the different resolutions. Fortunately, the whole game runs at the same resolution, which helps. I can’t tell you if the story is good or bad, but I can say it is certainly forgettable.
In terms of the gameplay (and the game in general), this is essentially a Splinter Cell game with minimal upgrades. Very little is different from the first game, which is fine because of how much I like the first one. While having more of the same is a good thing for me, I also had a lot of technical issues that feel even worse considering the fact that very little is different this time around.
Playing this game is practically deja vu with the first game, but there are some few gameplay additions to note. The more I noticed these additions, however, the more I questioned whether or not they are in the first game as well. Anything I talk about here as part of this game may or may not be part of the previous game as well. One thing that is certainly an improvement over the last are the graphics, looking better than the last game. It’s nothing crazy, but it is noticeable. It’s no surprise that the newer game looks a bit better, but what is surprising is how night-vision actually looks worse. Night-vision is a staple in this game, but every time I put it on, the textures get more pixelated. I can’t tell if this was done on accident or on purpose, but either way the end result isn’t too pretty.
When it comes to the gameplay, the additions I found are rather small. Despite that, some of the smaller changes still felt pretty meaningful. The biggest addition to the game is an optic cable that you can feed underneath a door and see the other side. Sam can also now whistle, which calls guards to his location. Both of these tools helped with staying stealthy and not getting caught with my pants down. This game has enemies dropping more ammo than the last, which helps with taking out more lights. What also helps with taking out more lights is a laser sight on the pistol, especially considering its comical inaccuracy. One thing that is neat about the laser sight is that guards will notice it, so you have to be careful with it. Finally, guards in this game will “level up” after each alarm raise, suiting up more as more alarms are raised. There are a few other smaller additions to the gameplay I left out that aren’t that important, but small additions made to the game helped a lot.
Unfortunately, while I’m all for not fixing what isn’t broken in terms of gameplay, the lack of changes highlight the technical issues I faced. Seeing a game not do much to the first game, but end up like this is confusing to me. The first issue I had to face with this game that I haven’t had to face with any other game yet is the fact that this game isn’t on any digital platform. Fortunately for me, I have an optical drive for my computer and I found the game for somewhat cheap on Amazon, but it’s still crazy that all of the other games (including the one before it) are on digital storefronts, but not this one.
Inside the gameplay, the biggest issue by far is the lack of shadows and darkness. With the previous game, dark areas were pitch black, and you could easily gauge how dark an area is just by looking at it. In this game however, almost everything except right underneath a light looks about the same, which meant always looking at the light gauge at the bottom of the screen to see if the spot I am in is dark enough. Getting spotted multiple times for not knowing the spot wasn’t dark enough was incredibly frustrating and made it hard to play the game for a while. There are other smaller technical issues in the game as well, including my aim randomly accelerating or looking at lights in certain ways with night-vision that causes a blinding, blinking light, but nothing as serious as the darkness issue.
One last thing to mention is the inclusion of a multiplayer mode. Surprise, nobody is there, but it’s neat that there is a multiplayer mode, and the mode itself sounds pretty neat too, with one team even going into a first-person perspective. I’m sure the other games from now-on will have multiplayer modes, so I’ll report on them again if I have a chance to actually play it.
In conclusion, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow is a copy of the first game with more technical issues. The first game is strong, so it’s no surprise that this game isn’t much different, but the lack of change highlights the issues I had with the game both inside and outside of the gameplay. Because of that, this game is going behind the first game, and I’m guessing by the end of this it will be pretty low on the list.