Pandora Tomorrow (Preview)

The sequel to one of the most popular games in recent years is coming to Xbox in 2004 with more stealthy goodness. Additions, improvements, surprises: It’s all here.

Of course, whenever a game to come from nowhere and be a huge hit like the original Splinter Cell was, a sequel is in order. Sometimes it turns out to be superior to the original, the same as or even worse than it. Luckily Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow looks to better the series. A better story, multiplayer and narrative are only the tip of it all. The story is said to reveal more of Sam’s company, The NSA. Now, you’ll see more agents will be out there doing their job while your do yours. The story deals with Indonesian guerillas threatening America. It’s written by JT Petty, like the original.

There will be two main modes in the game: Single-player and Multiplayer (can you say online?). Additions and improvements include tweaked moves (shifting weight during his “split jump”). New tricks include a fast swim move the enables Sam to move through open areas faster. The shadows and lightening play an important part and new variations will make you think a bit more about what to do next. A nice feature is force feedback. Your controller will vibrate when you’re near something bad—like a warning.

While Sam is a stealthy guy, he can’t do it all with just his body. The gadgets are important and you get a wide variety, like assorted weapons and night-vision goggles. The FN7 pistol has laser sighting now but your enemies will be able to see it so you have to know when to use it. The new A.I. will feature various stages of alertness which influences what they do. Each level makes them put on more protective gear and act a little crazier. A fiber optic camera will let you see things without being there though so you’ll be ready for them.

The gameplay will of course be improved. New levels are designed to let you use your skills as often as you’d like. The gameplay in Single-player will serve in multiplayer, called mercenary vs. spy. A twist is that you can play as one of the other agents I mentioned above. The mode will probably require the spies to infiltrate the mercenaries’ bases while the mercenaries protect it. The weapons will be nonlethal though which is a problem since the mercenaries are armed highly with motion trackers, mines and an EMR detector.

The mercenaries play in first-person mode though so remember that when picking who to play as. The max number of players will be four. The levels for Multiplayer are big and expansive but don’t allow anyone to get lost. In other words, they aren’t as big as the single-player ones. This should secure a good tension level. Sam can grab a mercenary and use them as a shield. Adding to that situation is that when the two players are locked together like that, the PS2 or Xbox headsets will only serve humiliate more. Besides just be a good online mode, Multiplayer will involve key elements to the main story.

The graphics will show off new tweaks and additions. Lush levels will be in all versions. Reflections, wind, sparks on vehicles and cameras shaking when caused to are included. The frame rate is also top notch here. The audio will range on systems. PS2 and GC owners will get Dolby Pro Logic II and Xbox owners get Dolby 5.1 support. Returning voice actors and a new score are also included. What did you expect for the sequel of a beloved action game? The single-player will feature great levels, challenge and a deep story. The Multiplayer game is an interesting way to take SC2 online and it looks pretty good. That plus improved looks, feel and sound look to make this an instant classic. It’s scheduled for a March 2004 release on PS2, GC, Xbox and PC.

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