Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Sam Fisher is back on Nokia's handheld system, bringing with him one of the best games to ever hit the N-Gage.
With Splinter Cell Chaos Theory on the N-Gage, I automatically assumed that I'd be playing some watered-down 2D port of Ubisoft's Sam Fisher sequel, so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that the game's powered by a 3D engine. Even better, it's actually fun to play! For N-Gage owners, this is your dream come true.
Despite the fact that Gameloft has managed to cram a whole lot of stuff in this port it's still considered Splinter Cell "lite" in that a lot of the cut scenes are really still shots (which make the story rather boring) with scrolling text and there's no voice acting (alas, no Michael Ironside), but those are really small complaints when I took into account the big picture.
Bottom line, this IS Chaos Theory but shrunken down into portable form. Sam Fisher is on another mission for the NSA sub-agency, this time in the South Pacific, and while I wasn't as wowed by this game's graphics as I am with the Xbox version, I have to say that this is by far the most impressive game on Nokia's platform. It's PSOne quality for sure and it moves just a bit slowly, but to see something like this on the N-Gage, complete with Sam's infrared modes is truly a great sight.
Getting the engine to do what you want is one thing, but actually making the game fun to play is another, and thankfully, Gameloft succeeded. Just like in the console versions, you can sneak around, take hostages and interrogate them, use zip lines, shimmy along pipes, and hang upside down and cap enemies in their heads, and the game's controls are, for the most part, easy to use.
This is definitely one of the least intimidating games to play using the dreaded keypad, as it not only makes shooting and jumping a breeze but manipulating the game's camera as well. However, I did have a little trouble sneaking around just because the N-Gage's D-pad doesn't really offer precision control. More often than not I accidentally made a wrong move and was quickly discovered.
The single-player campaign is full of action and so too is its multiplayer component which is very easy to get into and provides a seamless gameplay experience. Playing cooperatively with a friend, you can tackle numerous missions where one of you is the secret agent and the other is the hacker who relays info such as where guards are positioned or where the nearest exit is. Lastly, you can post all of your high scores on the N-Gage Arena's leader boards.
Tutorial modes often annoy the heck out of me so I was pretty upset that Chaos Theory forced me to wade through it, though such is the case in other games in the series. It's not that it's bad since it teaches you all of Sam's moves, but some of them are more difficult to pull off than others, so when I got stuck I'd quickly lose interest and put the game down. There definitely needed to be some way to bypass this boring intro.
Splinter Cell Chaos Theory is good but not overly spectacular. There's nothing about it that necessarily makes me go "Wow" other than the thirty seconds it took to get over the fact that a game like this is running on N-Gage hardware. With that being said, take it for what it is - a damn great N-Gage game that's a must buy if you're a system owner.
What's Hot: The N-Gage can pump out this kind of game? Nice!
What's Not: It's just a shame it's taken this long to start tapping into the system's power.