The most popular spy in the world may be James Bond, but in the world of videogames Sam Fisher reigns supreme. Comparing the personalities of these two spies you can also find the differences between Bond games and the Splinter Cell series. Sam Fisher is a tougher, deadlier, and more serious spy than the famous Englishman (Scottish in Sean Connery’s case). The Splinter Cell games have always tried to showcase those traits, having many ways to incapacitate or kill your opponents but in a more realistic fashion. You can’t just march into a room full of enemies and expect to come out alive. In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, the best characteristics the series has to offer were given a facelift. It’s not just a boring sequel but a well thought out extension of the first game. Chaos Theory completes a Splinter Cell trilogy of games, and hopefully it doesn’t end there.
Looking at previous reviews for Splinter Cell games, the description for this game’s graphics will sound repetitive. All three games achieve outstanding graphics, but Chaos Theory raises the bar. Sam Fisher has even more life-like moves than before; sneaking up on opponents is now more fun to watch because Fisher’s moves are believable, like the one’s a real spy would perform. While crouched, Fisher balances his weight from one side to another to avoid making extra noise. The addition of a combat knife to the arsenal of weapons is a graphical improvement more than a gameplay improvement. If Fisher weren’t menacing enough before while grabbing an enemy from behind, he surely is now. Interrogations with a knife seem to be more effective than using only your bare hands. It’s a huge improvement, and it adds to the realism that the series has tried to achieve on each game. You can kill your opponents with the knife when you are behind them with a ninja-silent stab, but you can’t kill with the knife when you already have your foe grabbed from the back. This isn’t a big problem – less gratuitous violence. While on the subject of new moves and weapons, it has to be said that the characters in the co-op are the one’s with the most new moves. All of their new moves are directly related to the fact that there are two players cooperating to complete a mission, so they create combo moves between the two. The cooperative moves range from simple things like getting help from your partner to climb on top of a wall, to taking out two enemies at the same time.
In cooperative and multiplayer modes, the graphics, unfortunately, are weaker than those in the beautiful single player campaign. There seems to have been more effort put into better gameplay for these game modes than graphical excellency. Either way, the graphics are far better than most multiplayers or co-ops. The spies and mercenaries are not as realistic looking as Sam Fisher, nor do they move as fluidly, but they are granted different moves, and they don’t go alone.
Realistic enemies and NPCs are exciting but not as much as visiting vast landscapes and exotic cities. Too bad Sam Fisher is never on vacation in these games. From the streets of the capital of Georgia to East Timor, the locales in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory are not just a big bonus to the already great graphics, but they also play a role in the strategy and gameplay. Every new place that has to be visited offers different natural obstacles, and some offer unique advantages for stealth. This time around Fisher goes to Asia, mainly visiting Korea and Japan. The graphics in each of these places are outstanding; it’s a live world even with the limitations of a linear scripted game.
Ambient sounds and any noises in general, provoked or not by the gamer, affect gameplay in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Silent approaches are the best weapon a spy can have, aside from noisy firearms. Gunfire is intense and can really make you a nervous wreck. Part of the success when playing is educating your ear to subtle sights and sounds. Strategic planning goes a long way too, but having your senses ready is part of the strategy too. Chaos Theory may be a lot more forgiving in difficulty than it’s predecessors, but it isn’t a walk in the park either, and the sounds play are important in the strategy of the game. Try to be dead silent to be more effective. And just enjoy the high quality in the sound department the game has to offer.
The first son of the series was successful thanks to the innovative gameplay it offered. Never did a spy game make the gamer feel like a spy, without being a cartoon version of a deadly operative. Chaos Theory follows the same pattern, and gives an outstanding, although not revolutionary, incursion to the world of espionage. As mentioned before, being a shadow is part of the strategy the gamer has at his/her disposal. Logically, more detail is added to the gameplay when facing those situations where you have to sneak up on the enemy. Sam Fisher has a great arsenal of moves to go with the deadly arms. The moves range from the acrobatic to the practical. The game is also more open ended than the previous efforts. That’s not saying much, because all Splinter Cell titles have been very linear games. It’s apparent, however, that there was some time put into making the game open to various ways of accomplishing the objectives; there’s not just the one way to finish a mission. Though be mindful that there are still not many reasons for the gamer to be wandering around (no matter how cool the scenery is). So, don’t expect mind-blowing differences in terms of gameplay, because Chaos Theory plays in the same fashion as its predecessors. That’s not actually a bad thing: “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it” is a philosophy that has worked so far.
There is a fairly big fan base out there for the Splinter Cell trilogy, and many of those fans had great expectations for Chaos Theory, because it announced many changes to the series, changes that appealed to many, changes that don’t transform the game into another but only make it better. Chaos Theory can be defined as a mild revolution. It brings freshness to the series without making a great deal of changes. Only calculated risks were taken here. For purist fans that’s a relief, and for those who expected a 360? turn, you’ll have to wait a little longer. Nevertheless, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is a must-have for both fans and non-fans.