Splinter Cell 3D: review

  • Format: 3DS
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://www.ubisoft.com/

  • We remember when Splinter Cell Chaos Theory was remade for the launch window of the original DS. We were so excited about it, as it was the first time Splinter Cell could be played properly on the move. However what became very clear was that the DS was not up to the task of pushing along complex polygon graphics in the way we had hoped and expected.

    So this then is the second attempt. However it is a second attempt where we have had third person action and stealth games successfully launched on the old PSP and on the current iPhone hardware. Indeed the recent iPhone version of Splinter Cell Conviction was a great success on many levels whilst the PSP has had 2 excellent Syphon Filter single player campaigns.

    The narrative and setting of this 3DS version is the same as the original DS game – following the Chaos Theory storyline, felt by some as the greatest of the Splinter Cell games. We preferred the whole Conviction experience more but let’s put that aside for now.

    The first question is, can the 3DS handle Splinter Cell? Answer: kind of. The game and hardware combine to deliver a graphically believable experience, with some good textures (at times), decent resolution images and smooth gameplay maintaining a good framerate. Those textures are sometimes inconsistent with the bland walls that occasionally make an appearance – a bit more eye candy would surely make the experience more believable. The game is also too dark. Why we could not have brightness or gamma settings in the options menu is anyone’s guess.

    Enemy animation and AI is as good as anything experienced on the PSP, and many leaps over our experiences with enemy soldiers on previous DS third person or FPS games (where they have normally been not much more than pop-up cardboard cut-outs stuck to the floor for shooting, just like a Call of Duty training ground).

    The 3DS has a much improved cart capacity and this is clear through the huge amount of voice recording and animated cut scenes in the game which really add to the experience. Talking of which, the 3D has been cleverly used to add a third screen to the 3DS. If you have the 3D turned on you will notice that many of the extra information and text boxes come forward, with the gameplay set back behind them. This helps to make the screen feel less cluttered. There is also a simple puzzle game when hacking computers which benefits from being viewed in 3D. The core gameplay though is not really reliant on 3D, even though stealth ‘knock outs’ by hand benefit as it’s easier to judge your distance to the target.

    One of the major issues the game has is the camera system, which is broken. Camera movement is fluid, which it needs to be as you will be using it all the time, however it is slow and there doesn’t seem to be an automatic camera at all. The XYAB buttons act as the camera controls, and unlike on the PSP, this feels quit comfortable – perhaps as they are closer together or more raised on the 3DS. Either way, this is acceptable. We would have preferred though to be able to control the camera via the touch screen with the face buttons being used to select weapons along with some functions also being on the touch screen.

    The camera issues are serious though and along with the game being just way too dark, something the original DS game suffered from too, this game does feel rushed. Many of these issues must have been known or could have been predicted by the development team, unless they only got developer kits close to launch, by which time it was too late to fix some of these problems.

    Multiplayer has been removed, and there is no spot pass or street pass functionality. As with other Ubisoft launch games, one feels that Ubisoft have been cynical here and that this would have scored higher had it not been a full £35 purchase decision. The game is not broken, and if you play it slowly and enjoy the stealth it is worth playing through; but perhaps Ubisoft could build a game from the ground up for the next Splinter Cell on 3DS? It would be appreciated.

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    Written by Steven G

    Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands. He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person 'free world', narrative driven and portable gaming. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

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