Chaos Theory follows many of the stealth gameplay conventions of the first two games in the series. In addition to stunning normal mapped graphics and HDR lighting, a real treat at the time, this entry in the Splinter Cell franchise increased the amount of both lethal and non-lethal options at Sam Fisher's disposal. It also is noteworthy for enemies proclaiming, "Who turned out the lights?" every time the player shoots out, or temporarily disables a light.
The game starts out with growing tensions between Japan , Korea, and China over Japan's decision to create the Information Self Defense force (I-SDF). This decision goes against the constitution of Japan written after World War II. China and Korea send ships to set up a blockade in the Yellow Sea. To try to calm the situation and push back the Korean ships, the USA sends in the USS Clarence E. Walsh (which in 2007 is the most advanced naval military ship in the world).
Sam Fisher is dispatched to a lighthouse in Peru following the disappearance of a genius computer programmer named Bruce Morgenholt. It turns out that Morgenholt was kidnapped by a guerrilla terrorist group known as "The People's Voice". Hugo Lacerda, the leader of this group, took Morgenholt because he was one of few who knew about the Masse algorithms. The Masse Kernels, created by Philip Masse, can be used to launch nuclear attacks anywhere in the world. It is Fisher's job to ensure the safety of these codes. When Fisher arrives at the makeshift camp for The People's Voice, Morgenholt dies after interrogation. The information is released and Lacerda flees via cargo ship (the Maria Narcissa).
Sam is immediately sent on-board the Maria Narcissa to take out Lacerda and to find out who he is dealing with. Sam traces weapons on the boat to a Panamanian bank. Before assassinating Lacerda, he notes the presence of European mercenaries onboard (likely hired from a PMC organization). Fisher then goes to Panama to find more Intel about the deal, and to steal $50,000,000. Here Sam learns about Abrahim Zherkhezi, another genius computer programmer who worked with Bruce Morgenholt. Before leaving the bank, the weapon shipments are revealed to be coming from someone known simply as "Dvorak". Fisher is sent to New York to investigate.
Meanwhile, simultaneous blackouts occur in Tokyo and New York, caused by an unknown party. Sam breaks into Zherkhezi's Manhattan apartment to figure out his involvement with the scheme. Fisher sees mercenaries similar to those on the Maria Narcissa guarding Zherkhezi's penthouse apartment. It turns out these mercs are working for Displace International ( Doug Shetland's PMC company). Dvorak ends up being an "infinite state machine" and not a person. Through interrogation, Sam finds out the mercenaries sent to protect Zherkhezi were hired by a man named Milan Nedich. After this mission, Sam is sent to the headquarters of Displace.
In the headquarters of Displace, Sam finds out that Displace and Zherkhezi were working together, most likely to secure the Masse Kernels. He also discovers that Milan Nedich is really just a pseudonym for Milos Nowak, a Bosnian war criminal. It turns out that Milan relocated Zherkhezi to a teahouse in Hokkaido where Shetland is also staying. Fisher becomes worried about Doug Shetland's involvement in all of this. Prior to Fisher's infiltration of the teahouse, the USS Clarence E. Walsh is sunk by a missile that originated in North Korea. It is peculiar because the ship's defense system normally protects it from missile attacks and the security is almost impossible to breach. This causes the US to send in troops immediately to invade North Korea and also starts a war between North and South Korea.
Sam arrives at Hokkaido to kill Nedich and take in Zherkhezi alive. He is able to kill Nedich and take care of that issue. However, Doug Shetland appears and murders Zherkhezi (Sam witnesses all of this). Now, presumably only Shetland knows about the Masse Kernels. Sam goes to a missile battery in North Korea to figure out if they really launched the missile that sank the Walsh or if there was any other involvement. He confirms Third Echelon's suspicions; Shetland used Masse's algorithms to launch the missile and instigate the war. The military officers in command at the base grow paranoid and launch another missile (intentionally). Fisher immediately disables it. Fisher also goes on a mission to Seoul to find the true origins of the missile launch.
Shetland is now in a bath house in Tokyo and Sam soon follows. Douglas is at the bath house to meet with a contact. Shetland's allies surprisingly end up being I-SDF forces (Toshiro Otomo, leader of the I-SDF was allied with Third Echelon to this point). At this point, all speculation is confirmed: Shetland wanted to start the war so he could make profit on the use of Displace as mercenaries. Somehow, a deal between Displace and the I-SDF goes bad which causes the sides to attack each other. Doug tries to get away and rigs the place to blow with bombs. Sam and Doug meet on the roof of the bath house in a dramatic showdown. Here, Sam finally kills Shetland.
The conflict is not over, however, as Toshiro Otomo now has a copy of the Masse Kernels. He attempts to make Japan Imperialist again by blackmailing the government. He threatens to launch a missile (using the Masse Kernals) to destroy a Japanese city. Sam heads down to the headquarters of the I-SDF (an underwater facility known as Kokubo Sosho) in Tokyo to confront Otomo. Attempting to die with honor, Otomo tries committing seppuku and fails. Sam saves him and stability is restored in Asia.
The counter terrorism branch Sam Fisher works for is named "Third Echelon." It is a small team of elite members and is comprised of Sam, Lambert, Grim, and Redding. Other field operatives in the same vein as Sam are alluded during the game, but their names and specific roles are never mentioned.
A field operative for "Third Echelon" and the protagonist of the game. Sam is equipped with the finest equipment available from omni-visual goggles to an internally silenced prototype assault rifle to launchable sticky cameras. An OPSAT built into his headgear and suit gives him constant access to maps, data, and his analyst team back at Third Echelon HQ, who frequently give him hints and objectives during gameplay as well as occasional nearly off-topic conversations. He is not simply a holster for all these items as Sam himself is a very capable stealth artist and combatant, using any number of sneaky tactics and techniques to get the greatest edge out of any situation. Sam, at the time of this game, is 50 years old and he begins to feel his years as the game progresses. Though it has little to no effect on his physical strength or mental acuity in the game, his age is the subject of many dialogues in the game and ties into the plot several times for a point of reference or explanation; in one mission, Fisher breaks into an off-shore bank and has access to very detailed floor-plans because he actually invaded the same place several years ago, providing this information for himself now.
Third Echelon's director of operations. He is only one step below director of the whole shebang but as far as Sam is concerned, Lambert is the top of the food chain. He gives operatives their objectives both in and out of the field (the primary ones at least). If he doesn't like something you do or you go against his orders, Lambert has the authority to pull the plug and consider the mission a failure at any time, so listen to him. He has a serious attitude most of the time but he will occasionally indulge Sam's slightly dark sense of humor if he feels that the pressure is off.
The information analyst. Grim can do anything pertaining to computer systems and frequently helps Sam out by providing him with programs to use on PC's in the field as well as dispersing generally plot-related information. Because of the nature of the single-player's story, Grim is occasionally deadlocked by program security beyond her prowess, but these occasions are infrequent. She gives Sam bonus objectives every once in a while, generally involving the perusal of on-site computers for information or downloading spybots for surveillance.
Will belongs in the Metal Gear universe as much as he does in Third Echelon. He is a military nerd, his knowledge of guns and tanks and aircraft extending boundlessly. In mission briefings, he gives you the technical details of the environments Sam will be working in--things like the kinds of security a place will be running or potential routes of ingress--as well as your equipment load out. Once in the field, Will lays down a multitude of useful facts and pointer about obstacles in the field, particularly involving technologies Sam might not be familiar with. If Redding gives Sam a bonus objective, it will involve physical reconnaissance or action.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory builds upon the foundations of the first two entries in the series. Mechanically, it is a third person stealth/action game, with a heavy focus on stealth. The player begins each mission at an infiltration point in the level, and must proceed through the level (for the first time, given the option of non-linear progression, and completing mission objectives in any order they wish) completing their primary objectives. Secondary objectives are optional, however if you fail to complete them in one mission, you must complete them on later missions, although usually in a different form. Opportunity objectives, however, are completely optional, and should you not wish to complete them, or are unable for some reason, you are not punished for leaving them uncompleted (save a slightly lower mission rating). In terms of interface, as well as a standard "light meter", a "sound meter" is added to help players monitor both their own noise, and background noise (if your noise > background noise, enemies nearby can hear you).
Chaos Theory adds several new gadgets (for example, the "OCP" providing alternate fire for the pistol, allowing players to disable electronic objects from a distance), however the largest addition is the knife. The knife allows for instant, silent kills as long as you are within striking distance of an enemy, allows you to perform various tasks (i.e. cutting a hole in a tent to provide a back entrance), and replaced the pistol when you take an enemy hostage (threatening them with a blade against their throat rather than a gun against their head). Knife kills are performed by pressing the "primary fire" (left click/right shoulder button) button when you are close to an enemy (indicated by Sam reaching for his knife).
The game is, in some ways, easier than previous installments. In addition to instant knife-kills, instant non-lethal takedowns may be performed by pressing alternate fire (right click/left shoulder button). No distinction is made between the two other than in your mission rankings, wherein you score higher for non-lethal kills. In addition, for the first time in the series, you can sneak without making noise at a speed greater than most enemy's patrolling speeds, allowing for you to gain ground and eliminate them more swiftly.
It is possible to play through most of the game gunning down your opponents, but Chaos Theory deters this behavior in many ways if you do not do so intelligently. Sam Fisher is an absolutely horrible shot when he isn't looking down a scope and holding his breath, making live combat nearly impossible against more than two opponents. The assault rifle will kill in two or three shots to the body or one to the head. Unfortunately, if you don't hit them in the head (or just miss because Sam has such terrible aim) they will automatically yell and start firing, alerting others to your presence at which point you will be overwhelmed or simply die from the first guy's spray of bullets. Shooting also instantly gives away your position to anyone nearby even when using the silencer, so you must relocate immediately to avoid getting aerated with AK-47 rounds when you do. You also get a small penalty for every kill in the mission rating.
That said, lethal force should not be ruled out as a viable option during several missions. If there is only one guard in a room and sneaking around him seems like it might cause problems, don't hesitate to shoot him; the silencer on the rifle might not be great but the sound will not travel through walls or doors. Redding also occasionally gives you powerful anti-personnel tools including under-rifle options like a shotgun and even frag grenades. When you are given these, the mission in question will cater to their usage.
1. Peruvian Lighthouse
- Rescue Morgenholt
- Recover or destroy information about the Masse Kernels
- Discover where the Guerillas got their arms and equipment
- Ex-filtrate to the primary extraction point
- Scan the SSCC bar code of the delivered crates
- Disable the radio in the lighthouse
2. Maria Narcissa
- Eliminate Hugo Lacerda
- Find out which cabin Lacerda is in
- Retrieve the ship's last transit ledger for Lacerda's shipment
- Retrieve the bill of lading for Lacerda's arms shipment
- Ex-filtrate to the extraction point
- Find the name of Lacerda's Panamanian contact
- Place tracking devices on any illegal weapons crates
3. Panama Bank
- Steal $50,000,000 in French governmental bearer bonds
- Determine who MCA's bank purchased the arms for
- Enter the bank
- Authorize the vault access from the three officer's panels
- Ex-filtrate to the extraction point
- Look for any suspicious transaction records
- Plant a series of false e-mails to make it look like an inside job
- Delete camera archives in the security room
4. Manhattan, New York
- Access Zherkezi's server to determine who Dvorak is
- Get to Zherkezi's penthouse in the adjacent building
- Find out who the mercenaries work for
- Locate Dvorak
- Retrieve a hard copy output for a single Dvorak execution cycle
- Ex-filtrate to the primary extraction point
- Discover who is in charge of the Zherkezi protection detail
- Tap the penthouse video cameras
- Obtain the blueprints for the penthouse
5. Displace International
- Don't kill anyone
- Access the central server in the server room
- Retrieve the server access algorithm
- Find information linking Displace and Zherkezi
- Ex-filtrate to the extraction point
- Discover the real identity of Milan Nedich
- Insert tracer programs into Displace's division servers
6. Hokkaido, Japan
- Abduct Abrahim Zherkezhi
- Eliminate Milan Nedich
- Eliminate Douglas Shetland
- Ex-filtrate to the primary extraction point
- Retrieve the hidden microphones
7. North Korea
- Determine if the Koreans intentionally launched the missile
- Tap the launcher bios for a fingerprint of Dvorak algorithm fragments
- Abort the missile
- Acquire the missile abort codes
- Ex-filtrate to any available extraction point
- Recover the shipping and repair logs
- Disable the warhead in the west command center
8. Seoul, South Korea Part 1
- Interrogate a special forces agent to determine the location of Jong
- Locate and retrieve data drives from the NDT
- Get to the rooftop to transfer data to the EA-6B
- Tap a mobile command center
- Stop the North Korean propaganda broadcasts
Seoul, South KoreaPart 2
- Get to the EA-6B crash site
- Designate the wreckage of the EA-6B aerial bombardment
- Gain information about NK UAV'S
- Disable portable radar reconnaissance receivers
- Move the pilots to safety before designation of target
9. Japan Bathhouse
- Discover who Shetland's contact is
- Gain entry to the bathhouse
- Eavesdrop on Shetland's meeting before I-SDF takes him down
- Eliminate Shetland
- Find out who gave the I-SDF assault team their orders
- Tap the bathhouse telephone lines
10. Japanese I-SDF
- Contact the detained American officers
- Record the meeting the war room
- Gain access to the war room
- Do not kill anyone
- Cripple Otomo's I-SDF servers
- Capture Otomo alive
Chaos Theory also adds on the previous game's "spy vs mercenary" multiplayer mode, and for the first time, co-operative play. The Spies vs Mercenary mode is largely similar to the previous game, bar the addition of some new gadgets and cooperative maneuvers for the Shadownet spies, and enhanced close quarter combat moves for the ARGUS mercenaries. Cooperative play consists of seven, self contained cooperative missions that tie into the story of the single-player campaign. Split screen co-operative is supported. In many cases, it was an advantage to be playing splitscreen. There was a feature where the NPC enemies in co-op play would hear your character talking if you, in reality, were speaking loudly into the microphone.
The in-game soundtrack was composed by Amon Tobin. Each "song" serves as an important gameplay element by changing dynamically after how alert the enemy is. For example, the intensity of the music will increase if you are discovered by an enemy. The score featured in the pre-rendered cut scenes are composed by Jesper Kyd.
- The Lighthouse - 5:05
- Ruthless - 5:15
- Theme from Battery - 4:26
- Kobuko Sosho Stealth - 3:25
- El Cargo - 4:23
- Displaced - 6:58
- Ruthless (Reprise) - 4:27
- Kobuko Sosho Battle - 4:16
- Hokkaido - 3:01
- The Clean Up - 7:00
None of these tracks can be heard in full in-game. Chaos Theory only uses small samples picked from each track and mixes & matches them to suit the alert state.
The GameCube version of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory supports GBA Connectivity. When connecting an empty GBA to the GameCube (using the GC/GBA cable), the GameBoy Advance "will enhance your OPSAT with wireless communication capabilities." These capabilities include using the GBA screen to monitor activity on the Sticky Camera and displaying a map of the current mission area.
On June 2, 2008, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory became available on the Xbox 360's Xbox Originals service for 1200 Microsoft Points.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory was re-released with high definition graphics on the PlayStation 3 as part of the Splinter Cell Trilogy on September 27, 2011. It was also made available as a standalone 4.8 GB download on the PlayStation Network for $14.99.
- Supported OS: Microsoft Windows® 2000/XP
- Processor: Intel Pentium III or AMD Athlon, 1.4 GHz (Pentium IV or Athlon 2.2 GHz recommended)
- System Memory: 256 MB of RAM or above (512 MB recommended)
- Video Card: 64 MB DirectX 9.0c compliant graphics card (128 MB recommended)
- Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compliant sound card (EAX 2.0 or higher recommended)
- DirectX Version: DirectX® version 9.0c or higher
- Hard Disk: 4 GB available hard disk space
- Supported Peripherals: Windows compatible mouse and keyboard, joystick for Solo and Co-op modes
- Multiplay: Broadband with 64 Kbps data transfer upload rate (128 kbps recommended)