# of Players:
Live (online play, Content DL, scoreboards), In-game Dolby
Digital, System Link
Splinter Cell earned incredibly high marks from
even the most jaded critics, and amazingly
took the series to a whole new level by adding in an excellent
online multiplayer mode and several small single-player
improvements. Chaos Theory takes the series yet another step
forward with the addition of a co-op mode, and an even higher level
of refinement in the single player mode.
Naturally, the focus continues to remain on the single-player mode
and Chaos Theory presents another international tale of espionage.
Japan has created an Information Self-Defense Force, which is seen
as a violation of international laws and ignites tensions in Asia.
Meanwhile, Sam Fisher is called in to investigate the kidnapping of
a computer geek knowledgeable of advanced algorithms related to
Philip Masse (remember him from the first Splinter Cell?)
that could prove dangerous if in the wrong hands. As youíd expect
these events are all related, and soon Samís traveling around the
world to save the day once again.
introduced alarm stages, in which the enemy would gradually add
additional armor and increased patrols as Sam was spotted. However,
setting off too many alarms would still result in mission failure.
This was unrealistic (since Samís already there shouldnít he just
finish the job?) and forced gamers to remain stealthy even in
situations where itíd be better to come out blastiní. Mission
failure as a result of alarms has been done away with completely in
Chaos Theory, although there are still consequences and the
enemy will adjust their behavior and equipment accordingly. This
provides even more gameplay flexibility and accommodation for gamers
that might not have the patience to remain stealthy.
Additionally, objectives are now broken down into Primary,
Secondary, Opportunity, and Bonus objectives. Obviously primary
objectives must be completed to finish a mission, but the others do
not and only hurt the final level score if uncompleted. Some
secondary objectives actually carry over to the next mission if not
completed, adding in an extra layer of flexibility as well. To
reflect all of this Sam can now outfit himself before each mission
with three different gear kits that play to the strengths of each
play style, either with a stealth setup, an assault setup, or
Reddingís Recommendation (usually a mix of the two).
However, the game still rewards sneaky and non-lethal gameplay. As
I alluded to before players are awarded a score at the end of each
mission based on how well they did during it, which includes
penalties for setting off alarms, bodies found, etc. Additionally,
grabbing NPCs from behind and interrogating them often provides a
variety of intel (most notably keypad codes) or simply amusing
conversations not otherwise available. Speaking of which, Sam can
now hack computers, retinal scanners, and other electronic devices
by guessing the appropriate IP address from a list of available
ones. As Sam begins hacking a timer appears, which counts down
while each of the four parts of the IP address are revealed in
intermittent fashion. Not only does it provide for some tense
moments (an alarm is trigged if hacking fails), but it also helps
accommodate players that want to blast their way through a mission.
Hacking was one of my favorite parts of the GBA version of Tom
Clancyís Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, so Iím particularly
happy to see it implemented here in some form.
Sam also has several new moves at his disposal. This includes the
inverted neck snap, which allows Sam to hang from a pipe and grab
NPCs that walk under him. He also has an option for Electronically
Enhanced Vision (EEV) now, which allows him to scan an area for
special objects (viewed in all white) and includes a built-in laser
mic. Also, when opening doors Sam can now bash it in (to knock out
enemies on the other side) or break the lock instead of picking it.
The pistol now has a secondary fire that can jam electrical devices,
effectively replacing the camera jammer.
However, the biggest addition to Samís arsenal is a simple knife,
with which Sam can use to slice enemy throats (without even grabbing
them first) or cut open various hanging fabrics (like the side of a
tent) before walking through them. Unfortunately when you add
capabilities to a game already full of them you have to make room by
getting rid of others, so we have to say goodbye to several nifty
moves found in Pandora Tomorrow. These include the SWAT turn
(which I loved and miss), back to the wall shooting and throwing
(not a big loss), and the Half Split Jump and Half Split Jump and
Jump (both complicated and unnecessary).
Another big improvement in Chaos Theory is found in the level
design. Splinter Cell has never been less linear, as there
are often several ways to handle any given situation. Although
there are still primary locations the player must reach, there are
usually several different ways to get there. Do you shimmy up the
pipe, climb on top of some boxes and jump, or simply take the stairs
and go the long way? Enemies can be dealt with in similar fashion;
do you snap his neck from above, grab him from behind and
interrogate him, shoot him and risk the noise, or just avoid him
As expected the versus mode that proved to be a big hit in
Pandora Tomorrow makes a return in this installment. Once again
itís Spies versus Mercenaries, with 11 new maps and three different
game modes including Story (tasks are accomplished in linear fashion
across one map), Disk Hunt (basically replaces the ND133s of the
last game), and Deathmatch. In Deathmatch the sides are balanced
out by limiting the number of gadgets to one on each side.
Additionally, Mercs also lose EMF and movement vision, laser sights,
and the Berserk move. To be honest I prefer the series far more for
the single-player experience than the multiplayer, but I have to
admit that Ubisoft has once again crafted another excellent and
unique multiplayer component.
New to the series is the co-op mode, which consists of four levels
not found in either the single player or versus modes. These levels
are fairly simple, with the co-op moves automatically available in
preset locations. These moves include things like hurling a
teammate like a missile, boosting over walls, etc. Players
communicate via the Communicator, but must do so softly as enemies
can hear voice communication at higher volume levels. Since there
are only four levels it isnít worth buying the game for on its own,
but itís a cool addition nevertheless.
As great as Pandora Tomorrow looked, Chaos Theory looks even
better. The lighting is more realistic, with blinking lights and
other dynamic elements. The environments are more expansive than
theyíve ever been, with longer corridors and larger and more
detailed environments providing Sam with more ways to accomplish
objectives. Animation has improved significantly over the previous
game, and that game featured some of the best animation ever found
on a console. Samís sneaking is now more realistic, as heíll shift
his weight subtly while creeping up on a foe.
The biggest improvement sound wise lies in the new meter that
measures environmental sound. By monitoring this and Samís own
sound on the meter, the player can tell exactly whether Samís being
too loud or not. This is a big improvement, as sound was always
factored in before but never really measured. Thereís also much
more dialogue than before. Sam will now have discussions with many
more enemies than before, some serious and others lighthearted and
Throughout the adventure players are treated to other environmental
effects as well. Engine rooms are noisy, an enemyís radio gets
louder as Sam approaches, guards have discussions in the distance,
electronic gadgets short out with a realistic crackling sound, and
there are many other effects too numerous to list here. These also
add to the environmental noise meter, meaning sound plays an
expanded role this time around. Amon Tobin supplied the soundtrack
for the game, and his alternating mix of pulsating techno and
Halo-like epic-ness perfectly fits Sam Fisherís dangerous world.
Another incredible single-player adventure, full of Clancy-esque
The versus mode makes a welcome and slightly upgraded return, and
the co-op mode is another excellent addition to the franchise.
More gameplay flexibility than ever with an improved alarm system
and hacking abilities. Yet, the game still rewards the stealthy
with additional dialogues/intel and an increased end of mission
Are we sure a standard issue Xbox is handling these graphics, and
that Ubisoft didnít sneak upgraded chipsets into our systems
More new moves to play around with that outweigh those we lost, with
the inverted neck snap being the coolest and the simple addition of
a knife opening up new abilities. The EEV also allows for new types
After complaining about it in my reviews of the first two Splinter
Cells, I have to mention that I didnít see a single body clip
through a wall or other object this time.
Iím gonna miss the SWAT turn.
As weird as this may sound, sometimes the ultra-slick graphics
look a bit too slick given the gritty settings some levels take
place in. Should cave walls really have a polished look to them?
A few areas seem awfully reminiscent of previous Splinter Cell
Once again Ubisoft has created a sequel that remains true to the
seriesí roots and yet provides a fresh experience at the same time.
The environments are more diverse and gameplay has been tweaked
for the better yet again, providing the player with more ways to
handle a situation than ever. Complemented by ultra-slick
graphics and typically great sound work, Tom Clancyís Splinter
Cell: Chaos Theory has again raised the bar on Xbox.