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Not A Review: Splinter Cell 3D

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Seeing as I haven't played more than a few missions into Splinter Cell 3D, I am not comfortable calling this writeup a review of the game. However, it doesn't take very long to realize that the game is fundamentally broken is a significant enough way that continued play would not change my assessment of the game.

Splinter Cell 3D is a remake 2005's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Now, I have not actually played Chaos Theory, but I am told that it is one of the best stealth games on the market. If this is true, then some significant effort must have gone into Splinter Cell 3D's development. It takes true passion and dedication to take something great and mess it up this badly.

I'll get right to the point, Splinter Cell 3D's enemy AI is fundamentally broken for a stealth game. Enemies have three levels of alertness to Sam Fisher's movements: unaware, confused, and trigger-happy confused. When unaware, enemies tend to stand around conveniently facing away from doors or marching on strictly prescribed routes. Confused enemies will walk about four steps in the direction of a sound, and assuming you aren't still in the same spot, will decide it was nothing and return to standing around like a dolt. This second level of alertness can easily be triggered by actions such as standing under a light directly in a guard's line of sight. The most aware guards will be just as confused as their less alert counterparts, but will actually shoot at you when they see you. This requires standing under a light for slightly longer, or accidentally bumping into an otherwise aloof guard.

Right from the start I had an interesting encounter with a guard on full alert. The guard saw me as I opened a door, so I retreated back into the room and hid behind the open door. I'll admit, it was a terrible hiding place, but I readied my weapon so I figured I would be fine. The fully alert guard proceeded to stand in the middle of the doorway and... just stood there for a solid 3 minutes. Since I was on the other side of the open door, I thought maybe I could knock him out by slamming it on his face. Instead, the door bumped into him and reopened, with no change in the guard's movements. I tried to close the door on the guard a total of seven times, with the guard remaining stoic in his patrol of the doorway. This kind of thing happens in Splinter Cell 3D all the time.

In later levels I found myself walking into a small room with three guards, two of which were facing the door, and none reacted until I killed one of them. Another room saw two guards standing motionless facing opposite walls who refused to react to the screams of their dying comrade. I had the option to hide bodies or shoot out lights, but seldom was required to because the incompetent AI barely ever moved off of their prescribed routes, if they moved at all. Splinter Cell 3D fails so utterly as a stealth game that it almost becomes a perfect parody of the genre.

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Players also aren't likely to keep the game's 3D effect on for very long. This is a very dark game, and I often had to tilt the system to find the right balance of screen brightness and glare so that I could even see the action. Even without that issue, controlling tools like the optical cable to look under doors requires you to tilt the system, which makes the tool completely useless if the 3D effect is turned on.

To give the game some credit, it does have an interesting control scheme. The circle pad is used for movement, while the face buttons control the camera like a second analog stick. Shoulder buttons are used for Fisher's attacks, the d-pad for jumping, crouching, and sticking to walls, and the touch screen for everything else. Swapping weapons, visors, or checking the map on the touch screen worked quite well, however using the bottom of the touch screen for context-sensitive actions could use some work. Personally, I'm not a fan of pressing a small virtual button on the touch screen three times just to open each door.

I am writing this article not as a review, but as a warning: Splinter Cell 3D is an irredeemably bad game. I have not finished it, and now that I have written about it I have no intention of ever letting the cartridge touch my 3DS again. If you have fond memories of Chaos Theory, then stay far away to keep your nostalgia pure. If you haven't played a Splinter Cell game before, then this certainly is not the game to start with. I have no problem with a company rehashing old games so long as the ports are decent, such as Ubisoft's own Rayman 3D. Splinter Cell 3D is the opposite end of the spectrum, and is simply not worth your time or money.


A copy of Splinter Cell 3D was provided by Ubisoft for the purposes of a review. I completed three of the game's ten missions. Three missions may not be enough for a full review, but it appeared unlikely that the core gameplay was going to fundamentally change in the following missions.

1 Comments

Shin Gallon said:

Chaos Theory was the best out of the "original 3" SC games, and hearing about this version just makes me sad. Hopefully the 3DS version of Snake Eater won't suffer the same fate.

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Shin Gallon on Not A Review: Splinter Cell 3D: Chaos Theory was the best out of the "original 3" SC games, and hearing about this version just makes me...

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