Developer: Ubisoft Shanghai |
Publisher: Ubisoft
Players: 1 to 4 Player Game |
Release Date: 03/23/04 |
Genre: Action

Sam Fisher, one of the most beloved characters on the Xbox, has returned to provide more stealth fun. This time, not only do we get a single player game with some more very tough missions to complete, Ubi Soft has also thrown in an awesome new multiplayer mode that is so good, it could have been sold separately.

Lets start off by discussing the all-new multiplayer mode. This is one of the highlights of the game and will probably be the number one game on Xbox Live until Halo 2 arrives later this year. In the multiplayer mode you control one of the members of Shadownet or the mercenary ARGUS Corporation. If you play as a member of Shadownet, you will control the action from the standard Splinter Cell third person perspective. However, you won’t be controlling Sam Fisher. Instead, the character you control will have their face completely covered. On the other side, if you play someone from the ARGUS Corporation, you will control the action from a First Person Perspective.

As Shadownet, you must sneak into areas and secure biological weapons.. The only thing standing in your way is the ARGUS Corporation. Their job is to stop Shadownet at all costs. As you would expect, since each side has its own unique perspective on the action, the way you play each side is different. Shadownet is not just a bunch of Sam Fisher clones. These guys control differently and have different weapons. For example, their primary weapon is an electromagnetic rife that is non-lethal and can be used to disable the ARGUS Corporation. Shadownet players will also find if they put their �Sam Fisher� style headlock on an enemy that they can actually communicate with them via the headset. With the ARGUS group, you are setup with an assault rife and laser sights. You also have some special vision goggles to better detect the Shadownet spies sneaking around.

The multiplayer options allow for up to four people to play at once. However, only one person per Xbox can play and you can use the voice communication to discuss things with your team. Unlike other games like Counter-Strike, if you die, the game will not end necessarily for you. Each team has a set number of lives they can use until the mission is over. But don’t think you have to always play two versus two games. In fact, if you are wanting a challenge, you can even play three versus one.

Personally, I am not a big fan of online multiplayer options in most titles. They are all just the same type of gameplay. However, while the multiplayer gameplay may not be exactly like the single player game, it is an original experience and worth the price of admission alone

If you can pull yourself away from the multiplayer mode long enough to experience the single player missions, you will find around 10 hours or more for a veteran Splinter Cell player. However, that does not mean these missions are easy. I found the majority of them to be more difficult than the first game.

In Pandora Tomorrow, you have to stop a villain from threatening the world with a biological weapon. This will lead you on several missions all around the world. My only problem with each of these missions is that Sam just appears there and you begin playing. You don’t get a lot of cinemas showing Sam being briefed or explaining why you are going to a certain location. This is an area I would like to see Ubi Soft improve on in the next incarnation of the series.

A big change to the single player campaign is that you now have several missions that take place outdoors. This will allow you to hide in the shadows of trees or in brush to conceal your location from the enemy. But Sam has learned a few new tricks to help him out. Besides all of the old moves he knows, you can whistle to try and get an enemies attention, drop down while hanging from your feet to shoot someone, and a new ability to reach higher places. There are also several instances where killing enemies is not allowed. This will make things much more difficult and cause you to use stealth to complete areas.

Visually, the game has been slightly upgraded. The graphical upgrades come from the areas outside and a reduction in the bland textures that were used in the first game. Lighting effects, voices, and enemy AI are once again top of the line and make the Pandora Tomorrow an awesome follow-up.

My biggest complained about Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow is the short number of single player missions. As I said before, veteran players should be able to beat the game in about 10 hours. For the rest, the game may take a significantly longer due to the trial and error gameplay. Pandora Tomorrow is very linear and once you know where the enemies are and how to get through a specific location, you will have no problems. Also, with a lack of many save points, if you make a mistake, players will have to start from the beginning of a level unless you can make it far enough to reach a checkpoint. I found the trial and error gameplay to sometimes be a bit frustrating. However, if you stick with it, you will get a rewarding gaming experience that few titles will be able to reach in 2004. With an incredible multiplayer mode and another good stealthy single player campaign, you can’t go wrong with this one.

By Kaleb Rutherford – 04/20/04
ESRB Details: Blood, Drug Reference, Violence

Screenshots for Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow