‘Splinter Cell’ Takes Gamers on an Espionage Thriller

CLAYTON WALKER
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Writer Tom Clancy is widely considered to be one of the most knowledgeable authors on the subject of real-world military operations and, has in the past, extended his talents into the creation of several video games, such as the submarine simulator “SSN” and the popular video game adaptation of “Rainbow 6,” Clancy’s counterterrorism book.

Clancy’s newest offering to the game-playing populace is “Splinter Cell,” a game that often cinematically deals with the subject of a highly elite U.S. government organization, Third Echelon, an agency profoundly dependent on stealth and espionage in order to accomplish its numerous political agendas.

One man, Sam Fisher, is the heart and soul of this group: His skills are far beyond that of any trained soldier, and he is called in to the most tense and potentially volatile situations in order to defuse them from the inside-out.

As the American spy, the player is cast into the midst of several highly dangerous international situations, and in order to survive, it is essential that one have a cool head, a keen eye and, above all, a quick trigger finger.

Fisher is no James Bond; his arsenal is modest and conventional, and his tools aid him in staying concealed in darkness-this is a crucial feature of “Splinter Cell” in that your presence is more readily noticed in exposure to light.

In order to stand the best chance of survival, Fisher must stay hidden and inconspicuous, completing his objectives by going through each of the several missions like a ghost; he stands the worst chance when unrealistically attempting to kill anything that moves.

Clancy’s vision truly comes to life, as the tools available to the player both in Fisher’s uncanny dexterity and expertise as well as with his grab-bag of spy gear makes going through the game closer to a puzzle than a straight blast-fest. In one mission, you must use thermal goggles in order to see the residual heat left on a keypad, allowing you access to otherwise off-limits areas.

However, this game play staple is a double-edged sword, and many players may find themselves frustrated in dying over and over in order to both become more proficient with the controls of the game in addition to finding the path of least resistance in Fisher’s deadly missions.

In terms of a sensory presentation, “Splinter Cell’s” lighting is perhaps the most impressive and dynamic seen in a console game; although the ambitious effects were toned down some for its release on the PlayStation 2, the impact and atmosphere remain entirely unaltered from their original intent. The graphics and sounds are excellent across the board.

“Splinter cell” is currently available for the Gamecube, Xbox and the PS2, allowing all owners of a next-generation system to experience Clancy’s espionage thriller for themselves.