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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre:Stealth Action
Players: 1-4 Online
Release: 3/28/05
Rated: M (Mature)
Written by: Daniel Sims

In 2003, Ubisoft Montreal decided to take the already established Tom Clancy brand of games based off the novels by the award-winning author of the same name, and bring it into the stealth genre created in 1998 (1987 if you wanna get technical) by Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid. The result was Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, a game that was arguably the first great stealth game since Kojima's original as well as a game that helped put the Xbox on the map. Only a year after the original was released, Ubisoft's team in Shanghai released Pandora Tomorrow, a "sequel" that was very largely just an extension of the original's game engine that included a highly innovative award-winning versus mode. However, while Pandora Tomorrow was being made, the Montreal team behind the original hit was working third installment called Chaos Theory, regarded by some to be the true sequel to the original Splinter Cell. Now Ubisoft Montreal has released that true sequel that aims to revamp the franchise and open it up like never before. But to what extent does Ubisoft succeed...

Like the previous two entries in the series, Splinter Cell Chaos Theory takes place in the very near future. In this case, the year 2007, where the weaponized computer algorithms introduced in the first game have given way to a new kind of "information warfare". Soon after Japan's economy has suspiciously crashed, the country forms a new Information Self Defense Force (ISDF) in order to defend itself against such "information attacks". However, other Asian nations such as China and Korea view this as a violation of Japan's own constitution and thus begin jointly blockading Japanese ships. As Japan's ally, the US must intervene in this situation. As a possible large-scale conflict may begin in Asia, special NSA agent Sam Fisher is sent off to investigate a seemingly unrelated incident in Peru...

The Tom Clancy brand has pretty much always been associated with stories and situations that feel incredibly realistic and relevant to our world today, things that felt like they could definitely happen in the real world. As this is true for the novels, it is also true for the games, including Splinter Cell. Part of the reason for Splinter Cell's popularity is the fact that the components that make up its presentation are all things that aren't too far off. It's a spy thriller, but one that seems like it could happen today. This is immediately portrayed in the game's plotline which, while at first seeming to take a backseat to the real action, is actually just presented differently than in other games. In Chaos Theory (even more so than in the other SC games), virtually all new developments in the plotline occur as you are playing, mostly through conversations between Sam, Lambert, and the rest of Third Echelon. There are no cut scenes except for the short pre-rendered ones between each mission which move along the story through broadcasts of a fictional news network. This may seem sort of low-key at first, but I actually think that it just serves to bring you into the action more when the plotline is actually developing around you rather than through cut scenes that stop the action.

All the spy technology and gadgets Sam uses are things that either we have in our military today, or things that we probably will have within the next few years. This is the product of Ubisoft's research into the actual subject matter. On top of this, the game will make you go through quite diverse environments. An MGS2-style tanker, a company office building, a war torn city, a nation's Defense Ministry, and even more locations that, with an incredible attention to detail on Ubisoft's part, help bring you into one of the most realistic and compelling game environments of this year. You really can't expect anything less from the Tom Clancy brand.

Now since this is the first PC game that I've reviewed as well as the first one that I've purchased in years, I'll have to first post images of the settings I played under as well as a compatibility chart between this game and my computer so that you can get a sense of what kind of system I was playing on:

Now on this system, I had to have most of the graphical settings on the game at a minimum because I didn't get my computer with gaming as the first thing in mind. Despite this, the game's visuals still do not at all fail to impress.

In Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, every part of the visuals has been greatly improved from Pandora Tomorrow. But the biggest, most marked improvement is without a doubt in the game's textures. They look deeper and truer than in almost any other game I've played before. This is because Chaos Theory is probably the first game I've actively played that uses the new graphic technique known as "Normal Mapping". It's kind of the next step over regular Bump mapping. This technique is basically used to make flat 2-D surfaces appear as if they have actual 3-Dimensional depth. The technique is carried out in this game very well. Through this, the game is able to achieve amazingly realistic textures at respectable frame rates. Brick walls actually look like they were built from individually rendered bricks. The Dirt ground that you walk on actually looks like real Earth instead of a flat surface with a picture of the ground on it. Every wall and every floor in the game had me always looking back in amazement. What adds an extra dimension to everything is how textures can changed based on the weather. If it rains, everything gets wet, which means everything, including Sam, becomes more reflective, which is an extra bit of attention to detail from Ubisoft that is appreciated. The only real setback to the textures really depends on your system. Splinter Cell Chaos Theory runs on shader models 1.1 and 3.0 and does not support 2.0. If you are playing on one of the newer nVidia chips, then chances are you will be able to play using 3.0. But if you are running the game on an ATI chip, which do not yet support 3.0, you will be forced to play the game in shader model 1.1. In my opinion, there is not much difference between the two visual modes. 3.0 simply offers you deeper and more defined textures which I could only really recognize in a direct side-by-side comparison. But this may still bug the more hardcore techies.

One thing in this game that deserves mention, however small it may sometimes be, is the special visual effects. Splinter Cell games have always involved constantly switching between Normal Vision, Night vision (which you'll be using the most), Thermal Vision, and the new EMF Vision. All of these, plus the various explosion and water effects in the game, look great. Night vision not only has the usual green tint, but also gives off a cool "video camera"-like effect that brings yet more realism to the game. In Thermal vision gives off the always-cool blur effect (that I thought was executed better in Resident Evil 4) along with the usual accurate tints from Blue to Red based on temperature. The new EMF vision, which allows you to see all electric currents, doesn't offer much to see, but is still a nice addition for the realism of the game.

One Splinter Cell trademark that's been improved still in this game is the amazing lighting effects. Splinter Cell, a game where you must use the shadows to your advantage, has always sported amazing lighting effects, but Chaos Theory takes it further yet with lighting that is very realistic and dynamic. If you shoot out any light in a room, whatever was lit by the light will go dark. If a light source is swaying to and fro, the light from it will sway to and fro, potentially influencing how you choose to maneuver yourself. If a light shines through a patch of trees or some kind of grating, it will show in the shadows cast by it, which will of course move according to the light source. However, with this lighting (or lack thereof) comes a problem that has persisted since the original Splinter Cell - darkness. Like the previous two games, there are many areas in Chaos Theory that are so dark that they will require the consistent use of Night Vision for long periods of time. As beautiful as this game’s environments are, we actually want to be able to see them enough of the time. What is finally supplemented to the excellent textures, effects, and lighting is the game's detail in the characters.

Polygonal counts are noticeably higher than in PT and so is the detail in everything else about the in-game characters, especially Sam himself. The folds in all clothing and the details on all faces (like facial hair and expressions) are all very vivid. On top of that, I found the character animations to be all remarkably realistic compared to what I see from most NPCs. when guards patrol they have a certain swagger to them that makes them look much less robotic and more human. With Sam it gets even better.

The whole act of grabbing a guard from behind has become so much richer now due to many technological advances in the game's engine. As you slowly sneak up on someone, Sam's walking animation will now begin to change as he draws near. Each step is more pronounced, he slows up his pace a little, and he begins to raise his hands as he draws in for the grab. The satisfaction does not end as you grab your unsuspecting foe and can see on their face that they are scared absolutely shitless with eyes wide-open. The experience continues as you try to talk information out of them through near-perfectly lip-synced conversations. Even after you incapacitate them you can still enjoy the game's full rag doll physics. This is only just one example of how the characters in Chaos Theory are all more real. With amazing textures, essential lighting, and incredible character portrayals, Chaos Theory produces visuals that are only surpassed by the most graphically advanced PC games.

As soon as you see Chaos Theory you can tell that the visuals have been completely overhauled with a new engine. But not only does this game revamp the franchise visually, it also revamps the franchise in terms of gameplay. Splinter Cell has always been known for its relatively open-ended gameplay that allowed players to deal with situations in a variety of ways. From skillful stealth to strategic assault. Chaos Theory takes this and expands it by making the whole mission structure truly open.

In the previous games although you could handle individual situations pretty much how you saw fit, each mission as a whole generally had to be completed how the game designers wanted you to. If you did something in one place differently than the designers intended, shoot the wrong person, or simply triggered too many alarms, the mission would abruptly end. Now things are a bit easier on you as these frustrations are gone.

The whole objective structure is much more open and free-form as you can complete each objective in different ways. Collect information by eavesdropping on a conversation, interrogating someone, or simply finding it at a computer or file cabinet. On top of this, all the objectives aren't even required. There are required Primary Objectives, Secondary objectives, Bonus Objectives, and Opportunity objectives. The only way you can fail a mission is through either your death or the utter failure of all Primary objectives. If you fail any of the other objectives, they'll just get scrapped or simply reappear in a later mission as primary objectives. Some objectives, like bonus objectives, won't even be listed and will only become known when you complete them through your own curiosity.

A new objective structure like this is built around levels that are truly open and far less linear than the ones in the original two games. The levels in the original Splinter Cell, however big and complex they were, were still generally linear, forcing you to go through the mission in one path moving from area to area in the same order almost every time. Pandora Tomorrow did offer for "alternate paths" to some solutions, but they still followed the relatively linear mission structure. With Chaos Theory on the other hand, you have a more open-ended mission structure that's built around levels that allow you to traverse through a mission in a variety of ways. You could try to directly make your way through a room or crawl through a vent over or under it. You could make your way around by trying other rooms that take you through different obstacles but eventually get you to the same objectives. Try to sneak into an elevator or just crawl up the shaft yourself. Go through the front door of a building, or climb up onto the roof through the back. Get out of that building from a window, out the front door, or through the fire escape. Because the buildings and other environments in Chaos Theory are all built as actual working places instead of straightforward videogame levels, you can interact and progress through them in a variety of ways each time you visit them. Just as you may be able to in a real place. This is also reflected in the fully 3D maps that can be used in Chaos Theory to sort of show you where you need to go. Being able to progress through the environments like this makes Chaos Theory feel like a more realistic and open experience.

Another thing that has been overhauled since the previous SC games is enemy AI. Originally enemies might simply storm into a place after a raised alarm but simply go away if they don't find anything, or maybe stuck to the same routine every time a certain situation rose up. Now this level of predictability is gone. If a guard is with one of his friends and they disappear all of a sudden, that guard will never forget about that person and will probably go looking for them for a while. If you try to block a door that they are trying to get through, they'll break it down killing you in the process. If you fire so much as a single stray shot in their direction, they'll know where it came from and instantly light up that location with gunfire without warning. If they see that a light is broken, they will suspect that someone else is there and begin a search. If a light is broken while they are there, they will likely go on full alert. If they become suspicious in a dimly lit place, they will bring out either flashlights or glow sticks. In the later levels they even become smart enough to recognize your tools when they see them and respond accordingly. For example, you gotta be more careful with sticky cameras now. Many times if certain enemies hear its distinctive distraction sound, they'll simply turn towards it, and shoot it out without a second though. Basically, guards will recognize virtually any change you may make to the environments in this game and act accordingly. They'll hear or see nearly any mistake you make and will generally act like a real fighting force that you must overcome.

As the enemies in this game seem more able and adaptive than before, so does Sam. First I'd like to say how amazed I was at this game's control scheme. This is the first PC game that I've seriously played in years and I can tell you that I am not at all a fan of playing games with a keyboard and mouse. But after a couple minutes with controls as intuitive as these, it felt almost as natural as a controller. Directional controls of movement are handled on the left side of the keyboard while directional controls of the camera are handled through the movement of the mouse. The right and left triggers are the right and left clicks and the spacebar is the action button. Other actions in the controls are handled by buttons very near the directional movement controls. Through this you can do quite a bit to get through and around your adversaries.

You can simply bust through a room with your SC20k's shotgun attachment (or grenades), if you think you are good enough with your silenced pistol you can take out the lights with that, or you can even use the pistols new OCP attachment to temporarily disable electronics (mostly lights) to distract enemies, allowing you to slip by. You can use sticky cameras and sticky shockers to scope out what's around the corner, distract your enemies, and incapacitate them. You can even knock enemies out quietly with a knock to the head from your fists, and airfoil round to the head, or just a liquor bottle you happened to find lying on the floor. However, many of the aforementioned things were also available in the previous Splinter Cell games. The one new tool in Sam's arsenal that stands out the most (other than his OCP) is his trusty new knife. Now that you have a knife, melee combat has become awesome all of a sudden. Run up and stab a guy around a corner, slit a guys' throat from behind, stab a guy in his sleep, stab a guy sitting at a computer, or even use the knife to cut your way into the back of a tent and stab the guy in there, the new possibilities just go on and on. And that's not all. As mentioned before you can use the knife to cut your way through certain materials like plastic and stuff. You can also use the knife to break a lock for when you have no time to pick it. Or you use the knife to pierce the gas tank to a generator, permanently cutting off all lights in a room.

Another extremely useful new tool in this game is Sam's EEV which, attached to his binoculars, officially brings Sam into the Wi-Fi era. By simply looking at some device, like a computer or scannable object, Sam can access it at a distance. When you use it on most electronic devices it simply puts up a set of icons telling you what you can do with it. The EEV is most used on computers to allow Sam to wirelessly access them. This opens up even more ways to carry out objectives in Splinter Cell. If you don't want to risk going through guards just to get to a computer system, simply sit somewhere safe where you can see it and simply use your EEV to scan it. Once you've accessed most computerized devices, you can also hack into them, which gives rise to a new hacking system in Splinter Cell. It really works out like a mini game. On one side of the screen a huge list of 9-digit numbers will appear. One of which is the correct one to select. On the other side appears a panel going though all possible digits, lighting up when it finds a correct one. You can either simply click what you think is the correct number when you think you can figure it out or simply click the digits as they light up. However, when you are doing this, there will be a time limit as well as the risk of clicking the wrong number. If time runs out or a wrong digit is selected, and alarm will sound. This simple "game" is in some ways successful in producing a sort of tension in getting into a restricted computer system that hasn't really been tried before in games like this.

The different moves that Sam has in this game are generally the same as in the previous Splinter Cell games with a few distinct additions. He can still do a split between walls in a tight hallway although I myself only did it a couple of times. He can still climb poles and rappel down walls. Sam can generally still do almost everything that he could do in the original Splinter Cell. The few distinct new maneuvers Sam can now do include the inverted grab that allows Sam to com down from a ceiling pipe and grab a guard while hanging upside down. The move is really cool but you don't get too many chances to do it and the chances you do get can be missed pretty easily. One pretty nice thing you can do to guards while hanging off of a ledge (certain ledges) is actually come up to grab them, then throw them over the ledge to certain death. There's only one part early on in the game where the move is truly effective and useful. There are other places where it can be tried but its usefulness is questionable considering how cool it is to have the move. The only new move that really got a lot of use from me in this game was the new Door Bash. In Splinter Cell games whenever you come up to a door you usually have a few choices: simply open the door, open it slowly so as to be quieter, or use your optic cable to see what's on the other side. Now, if there's someone immediately on the other side of the door (that you can see in thermal vision), you can simply bash the door open, knocking them out. I couldn't tell you how many times I whistled a guy over to a door, then bashed it in his face! In Chaos Theory you may also notice that a few of the little moves added in Pandora Tomorrow are not in this game. Sam no longer shifts his weight while holding himself during the split-jump (as the jump is rarely used in the game) Sam no longer does the SWAT turn in this game (nor does he really need to) and his ability to peek his gun around a corner has been replaced by the ability to switch your shooting arm while aiming. It makes things a little more realistic and still fun. These new moves are very interesting and have potential that sadly probably didn't get fully explored in this game.

One rather small but nice adjustment that is probably appreciated in this game is the change to the practice of hiding bodies. In the past games whenever someone was knocked out and killed, you had to hide the body somewhere. Somewhere that was preferably dark and in some kind of corner. If not, the body would eventually be found no matter what, raising an often unnecessary alarm once you got to a certain point. This system soon became a bit annoying and was thankfully replaced with the more realistic and forgiving system of this game. In Chaos Theory, a body is only found when another guard physically finds it. If the guard is simply unconscious, they'll just give him a kick in the ribs and wake him up. If the guard is dead, full alert. A guard could be left anywhere as long as there are no other guards coming by too close. If you take out every guard in an area, you could leave all the bodies straight out in the light and none of them would probably be found because there would be no one else to find them. Although this may make things a little easier, it also makes things feel more realistic and ultimately less frustrating.

With a new more open-ended objective system that is built around complex, truly open levels, as well as new abilities and revamped enemy AI, Splinter Cell Chaos Theory is a game where you could go through the same level several times and complete it in several entirely different ways. But it doesn't stop at the single player game at all! One of Chaos Theory's most notable features is its multiplayer mode that rivals the main single player game in terms of replay and expansiveness.

First, there is the adversarial mode that makes its return from Pandora Tomorrow. That game came with a new kind of versus mode that was hailed by many as innovative and even went on to become an award-winning feature of the franchise. Its premise was to have two teams of two go against each other: the Shadownet Spies and the Argus Mercenaries. To the Spies, it's a game of stealth just like in the main game. They must use the abilities that Sam has in the single player game to move around the map and complete the objectives given to them. For the Mercs, everything feels much more like a traditional FPS action game. Their job is to defend the area against the Spies and hunt them down with their own tools and brute force.

The first thing you'll notice when playing versus mode is the tutorial. In order to play this game online, you must first pass a sort of tutorial exam to show that you know the controls and know what you are doing in the game. Although this is very helpful in making sure everyone online at least has some idea of what to do, it offers no training or real advice on how to handle actual human opponents. Because of this, Chaos Theory online can become very difficult for new people playing against returning players from Pandora Tomorrow. The best thing people can do is just keep playing and pick up tips quickly. The controls in the versus mode are actually quite different from those in single player. They still follow the same foundations, but some functions have been switched around on the keyboard to accommodate the differences in versus mode. They still work just as well, but take a minute to get used to if you are just now coming out of solo.

In this version of Chaos Theory, the vs. mode has been improved with many new items, weapons, tactics, and maps. All of which expand the game sufficiently. Now I never played the old versus mode in Pandora Tomorrow myself but while online in this game I did hear much talk about the differences and changes made in this new edition. I heard very definitive things about the new weapons as well as the new maps. The Spies themselves still have the stickyshocker as their only gun. They cannot shoot bullets but they can shoot small electric pulses to stun the Mercs. Spies are also for the most part given the same weapons as in the last games with a few modifications and the additions of a heartbeat sensor and limited thermoptic camouflage. The Mercenaries on the other hand have had many new items and weapons added to their arsenal. The most notable of which is probably the Uzi, a weapon that has quickly become feared and hated among Spies. Other additions to the Mercenary arsenal include things like backpacks, laser trip wires, gasmasks, and the like.

New moves are also a draw for the versus mode in this game. One new move from the Solo game that the Spies now share with Sam is the ledge grab that allows Spies to grab Mercs from below ledges and throw them off, killing them. I admit that I myself have been caught off guard by this maneuver many a time. Because the Spies work together as a team, they have now been given a set of all new team abilities that they can use to reach areas and do things that would be impossible for just one person. Spies can boost each other to high ledges, nurse each other when damaged, share gadgets, and even remove devices from the Mercs (the Mercs can also do the same for each other). The Mercenaries on the other hand only have one new move: the Berserker attack, which allows them to basically rush or hit any enemy who might be near them to knock them down. This one new move has actually proven to be quite effective many times in battle when used correctly.

On top of new weapons and new moves, the versus mode in Chaos Theory has also been given two new modes of play: Disk Hunt and Death Match. Disk Hunt being a sort of fetch quest for the Spies and Death Match being just that, a Death Match between the Spies and the Mercs. Even before on Pandora Tomorrow, many players would actually play a sort of Makeshift Death Match even though it wasn't really there. Because of this, Ubisoft added this mode into the game much to the delight of many players. Unfortunately, during Death Match, both the Spies and Mercs are redistricted to only one gadget each, thus limiting their tactics but possibly also helping equal the playing field. Death Match is now probably the most popular mode online in the game.

One thing about versus that has amazed me is the huge and very dynamic maps that the game contains. These maps are big. Very big and very complex. They are filled with many of the things you find in Single Player maps like cameras (which can be used by the mercs), traps, motion sensors, secret passages, and many other unique devices that make for very dynamic experience. However, because of the size of these maps, they can become difficult to memorize and learn. This tends to create difficulty for people who are new to the game. Fortunately, "tutorials" for each map are included to sort of show people around. They are very helpful and probably essential for victory in real matches. There are roughly a dozen versus maps in all (with one recently added by Ubisoft), each of them very different. However, because the game includes a mapmaker feature, people can create their own maps and have other people download and use them in versus mode. However, the mapmaker in this game is obviously put in there for people who know what they are doing and already have some knowledge of game design mechanics and terminology. So most players should probably not mess around with it. There is even one group called UMP, that has made maps of their own (I think they are old maps from Pandora Tomorrow) and set them up for many people to download. Currently they have released two extra maps and are working on a third.

One thing that is very noticeable is that the graphics in the versus mode are very different that the amazing visuals displayed in the single player mode. In versus mode normal mapping is not used and as a result the graphics actually look more similar to the first two Splinter Cell games than anything else. But this is not necessarily all bad, as the versus mode visuals in this game still shows a big improvement over the previous games. All the models and details still look very crisp and quite detailed. They still look amazing in their own way.

Personally, I think that versus mode is one of the most fun and entertaining multiplayer experiences I've had in a while. Largely because it's something new and a change from the usual action games. Adversarial is an interesting and addictive mode of play that gives players many different possibilities and forces them to think critically about every move they make against each other.

The other multiplayer mode, and the biggest new addition that Chaos Theory brings is the Cooperative mode that allows players to work together to complete missions akin to those in single player mode. This gives the game many more ways to be played.

As if all the new additions and possibilities in the Solo mode weren't enough, playing alongside another person gives so many more possibilities for completing missions. With the new team maneuvers players will help each other down ledges, up to ledges, and around corners. New moves include the ones from versus as well as holding ropes for partners to climb up and down and even throwing teammates through security systems or at guards! On top of that, instead of just placing co-op teams in the same maps as in Single player mode, they play in totally new maps that, while seeming a little smaller than the ones in single player, are still just as dynamic. They are all set up so that players will have to help each other with things like computer hacking, bomb diffusion, and getting past security which has been made different than in solo mode so as to require the action of two people. This aspect works very well to get cooperation out of players, but in actuality, the rest of the game - running through levels and getting around guards - can still really be done by one person while another simply follows, as I saw when I was sort of shown through the game by someone else on my first time playing co-op.

All in all, co-op mode is a very welcome addition to the game and actually makes it feel more exciting now that there's someone else to work with. The new moves and new kinds of obstacles (many of which are actually pretty novel) can help to expand possibilities for players beyond what single player mode offers.

With all this, Splinter Cell Chaos Theory seems to be three full games in one rather than just one, which is a testament to the amazing amount of replay value in this package.

One of the things that makes this game such a great experience is that Ubisoft left no part of the design process untouched, including the audio, a part of games that usually isn't taken into consideration as much as the other components. If you have at least a decent speaker system hooked up to your computer, you'll notice how the game features some very crisp audio down to every sound effect. From the loud rattle of gunfire to the shattering of glass. Much detail has been put into consideration as well. Bullets hitting the wall sound very different than bullets hitting your intended target, footsteps are very distinctive depending on where you're walking. This is all because the sound in this game actually plays into the gameplay.

The first Splinter Cell game introduced the concept of staying in the darkness to keep out of sight. It helped you do that with the light meter that shows how lit you are. Well now there's a sound meter in the game as well. It shows how much sound you are making as well as how much ambient sound there is in the environment. Each time you move quickly, fire a bullet, or do any other loud action, the meter will go up, possibly alerting enemies. But there is also the ambient sound to consider. There is usually a marker on the meter to show how loud the ambient sound in the area is. If the ambient sound is louder than the sound you make, then your noise will be masked by the ambience, thus lessening your chances of alerting guards. There are many ways you can use this to your advantage. If there is a source of sound that alternates somehow, you can make your moves when it is active and masking all sound. You can turn on a radio or some other machine to distract guards and get by unheard. Making for a still more realistic and immersing experience.

On top of the new sound system and the crisp sound effects, Chaos Theory features some excellent voice acting, as did the previous two games. Everywhere in each level you will hear guards making casual conversation that probably never sounds cheesy. You are even allowed the option of switching to native languages so that guards in the game will speak a variety of languages including English, Spanish, Korean, and Japanese. As you go through the missions you will constantly receive commands from the people at Third Echelon. In addition to providing you with information on your missions, conversations between Sam and Third Echelon often become very smart and even funny much of the time as jokes are played on subjects such as Sam's age. However, the best part about this game's audio is probably still Michael Ironside's reprisal of his role as the voice of Sam Fisher. Ironside continues to excellently portray Fisher's personality as a somewhat disgruntled middle-aged rogue with a dark sense of humor. His many interrogations with the various guards in the game are some of the most well scripted lines I've ever heard in a videogame to date.

One last component of the game's atmosphere that enhances it even more is its excellent original soundtrack, composed by outsider electronica artist Amon Tobin. The previous games featured music that sounded very generic and not really that special. It was never bad at all, just not exceptional, like most videogames. But with this new composition all of the music fits the game perfectly to give it a sort of "modern superspy" feeling that sounds like nothing I've heard before in a game. While you are playing the game stealthily, sneaking up behind someone, the game has a pleasantly quiet predator-like sound that switches appropriately to fit the situation when things turn more towards action. This is one game soundtrack that could very well support an album of its own (and actually does) and at the same time fits the game perfectly and uniquely. My pick for favorite original soundtrack of this year.

However different it may be for each person, Chaos Theory is a game that should prove to have an impressive amount of replay value. It's got all the right components to last. Specifically not one but two different multiplayer modes that are each addictive in their own right. But on top of that, the single player mode, which features 10 missions, each of which might take 45 minutes to an hour on the first try, can be done over and over again in several different ways. After you finish each one, you'll want to go through it again until you get a perfect rating with no kills and no knockouts. The same goes for co-op. Hours and hours of fun garanteed.

Closing Comments:
With a largely open-ended, freestyle single player mode that will have you going through again and again, an amazingly ambidextrous cooperative mode as well as the return of an innovative, award-winning versus mode that is all enhanced by top-notch visuals and an atmosphere that's completely immersive, Splinter Cell Chaos Theory is the most accessible, complete, and ambidextrous stealth action/adventure package yet..


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