The Mission's Over!

Posted by dankempster (2249 posts) -
 More of the wheat, less of the chaff
I'm not normally known for impulse blogging, but I'm going to break that tradition for today. I've just finished Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and now I feel like briefly sharing my thoughts on the game with all of you. 
 
I bought the first three games in the Splinter Cell franchise incredibly cheaply for my PS2 some time ago, with the view to playing through them in the near future. I got around to playing the first game last year (around the time this most Giantest of Bombs blew up), and found it frustrating and rewarding in more or less equal measures. The game wasn't as open-ended as it initially seemed, and progression was largely through extensive trial and error. I think part of the reason I left it so long between playing the original Splinter Cell and Pandora Tomorrow was my fear that it would be more of the same frustrating experiences. Imagine my surprise, then, when I picked up Pandora Tomorrow last week and found it to be an improvement over its predecessor in almost every conceivable way.
 
One of the main problems I had with the original Splinter Cell was its rigidity. The game presented me with the illusion that I could get through any situation in a multitude of different ways, but often boiled down to "sticking to the script" because most of the cool gadgetry was only useful for getting myself noticed. Pandora Tomorrow feels like it's addressed this issue by being a little more flexible in its execution. The big one is the addition of the humble whistle to Sam Fisher's arsenal. The inclusion of something this small really did have a big impact on the game, because it meant I could choose to break the game's patterns, rather than having to adapt to them. I also heaped criticism on the original game's unforgiving nature, but didn't feel the need to do so with Pandora Tomorrow, which seems a little less hard on mistake-makers. Checkpoints are (for the most part) generously handed out, and raised alarms seem a little easier to cope with this time around. Unfortunately this all seems to go out the window with the game's final mission, which cranks up the difficulty exponentially and just seems to expect you to deal with it. 
 
Sticking to the shadows is as important as ever
Aside from these two points, Pandora Tomorrow is pretty much what I was expecting - more Splinter Cell. It still looks great (for a PS2 port of a 2004 Xbox game), it still uses light and darkness really effectively as a gameplay mechanic, the action is still incredibly well-paced (again, for the most part), and the gadgets are still lots of fun to play around with. It's also still pretty linear, and still requires a lot of patience. I guess the biggest complaint I have is regarding the game's final mission, which felt like the complete antithesis to the rest of the game. With its poor pacing and soul-crushing spike in difficulty, it felt tacked-on, as if the developers thought the game wasn't going to be long enough or challenging enough and half-heartedly threw an extra level on the end to make up the time. For the most part though, Pandora Tomorrow was pretty much everything I could have asked for from a sequel to the original Splinter Cell - an equal level of challenge with more reward and less frustration. I'm certainly not going to leave it so long before I check out Chaos Theory, which I've heard is the best game in the series. 
 
Team Fortress Classic may be old, but it's still awesome 
Away from the rediscovery of my PlayStation 2, I moved back to my family's place on Friday, and I'll be staying here for Christmas and New Year before winging my way back to Essex for the Spring term of my second year. It's been nice to see all my family and friends again, and it was especially awesome to meet the new dog, Mya, who is quite possibly the most beautiful puppy I've ever set eyes on. I'm also working hard on two Linguistics essays which I have to finish before terms starts in January. In the land of games, I took the plunge and popped my Team Fortress Classic cherry yesterday. Even with ten years of age to account for, the game plays incredibly well and looks set to become my next gaming vice in the absence of a computer that can run Team Fortress 2. I'm not ashamed to admit that I suck at it, but hopefully that will change as I become accustomed to playing shooters with a mouse and keyboard. 
 
I think that about covers it for this blog. Now that I've wrapped up Pandora Tomorrow, I'm thinking of directing my attention in the direction of something a little more in-your-face. Right now Devil May Cry is looking like the most interesting option. I'm also really eager to start playing Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, so I'll probably dust off my PSP and give that a whirl some time soon. Anyway, thanks very much for reading, guys. I'll see you in a couple of days for the return of Dan's Christmas Mega-Blog. 
 
 
Dan 
 
--- 
 
Currently playing - Team Fortress Classic (PC)
#1 Posted by dankempster (2249 posts) -
 More of the wheat, less of the chaff
I'm not normally known for impulse blogging, but I'm going to break that tradition for today. I've just finished Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and now I feel like briefly sharing my thoughts on the game with all of you. 
 
I bought the first three games in the Splinter Cell franchise incredibly cheaply for my PS2 some time ago, with the view to playing through them in the near future. I got around to playing the first game last year (around the time this most Giantest of Bombs blew up), and found it frustrating and rewarding in more or less equal measures. The game wasn't as open-ended as it initially seemed, and progression was largely through extensive trial and error. I think part of the reason I left it so long between playing the original Splinter Cell and Pandora Tomorrow was my fear that it would be more of the same frustrating experiences. Imagine my surprise, then, when I picked up Pandora Tomorrow last week and found it to be an improvement over its predecessor in almost every conceivable way.
 
One of the main problems I had with the original Splinter Cell was its rigidity. The game presented me with the illusion that I could get through any situation in a multitude of different ways, but often boiled down to "sticking to the script" because most of the cool gadgetry was only useful for getting myself noticed. Pandora Tomorrow feels like it's addressed this issue by being a little more flexible in its execution. The big one is the addition of the humble whistle to Sam Fisher's arsenal. The inclusion of something this small really did have a big impact on the game, because it meant I could choose to break the game's patterns, rather than having to adapt to them. I also heaped criticism on the original game's unforgiving nature, but didn't feel the need to do so with Pandora Tomorrow, which seems a little less hard on mistake-makers. Checkpoints are (for the most part) generously handed out, and raised alarms seem a little easier to cope with this time around. Unfortunately this all seems to go out the window with the game's final mission, which cranks up the difficulty exponentially and just seems to expect you to deal with it. 
 
Sticking to the shadows is as important as ever
Aside from these two points, Pandora Tomorrow is pretty much what I was expecting - more Splinter Cell. It still looks great (for a PS2 port of a 2004 Xbox game), it still uses light and darkness really effectively as a gameplay mechanic, the action is still incredibly well-paced (again, for the most part), and the gadgets are still lots of fun to play around with. It's also still pretty linear, and still requires a lot of patience. I guess the biggest complaint I have is regarding the game's final mission, which felt like the complete antithesis to the rest of the game. With its poor pacing and soul-crushing spike in difficulty, it felt tacked-on, as if the developers thought the game wasn't going to be long enough or challenging enough and half-heartedly threw an extra level on the end to make up the time. For the most part though, Pandora Tomorrow was pretty much everything I could have asked for from a sequel to the original Splinter Cell - an equal level of challenge with more reward and less frustration. I'm certainly not going to leave it so long before I check out Chaos Theory, which I've heard is the best game in the series. 
 
Team Fortress Classic may be old, but it's still awesome 
Away from the rediscovery of my PlayStation 2, I moved back to my family's place on Friday, and I'll be staying here for Christmas and New Year before winging my way back to Essex for the Spring term of my second year. It's been nice to see all my family and friends again, and it was especially awesome to meet the new dog, Mya, who is quite possibly the most beautiful puppy I've ever set eyes on. I'm also working hard on two Linguistics essays which I have to finish before terms starts in January. In the land of games, I took the plunge and popped my Team Fortress Classic cherry yesterday. Even with ten years of age to account for, the game plays incredibly well and looks set to become my next gaming vice in the absence of a computer that can run Team Fortress 2. I'm not ashamed to admit that I suck at it, but hopefully that will change as I become accustomed to playing shooters with a mouse and keyboard. 
 
I think that about covers it for this blog. Now that I've wrapped up Pandora Tomorrow, I'm thinking of directing my attention in the direction of something a little more in-your-face. Right now Devil May Cry is looking like the most interesting option. I'm also really eager to start playing Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, so I'll probably dust off my PSP and give that a whirl some time soon. Anyway, thanks very much for reading, guys. I'll see you in a couple of days for the return of Dan's Christmas Mega-Blog. 
 
 
Dan 
 
--- 
 
Currently playing - Team Fortress Classic (PC)
#2 Posted by Soap (3561 posts) -

I did the same thing you did a few years ago with the Splinter Cell Series, I was a PS2 gamer at the time and didn't get an xbox until late in the generation, I agree with what you said about the original, if I remember correctly it's mostly just corridor crawls and it gets pretty dull, the whistle is one of my favourite moves in gaming history. My girlfriend I was with at the time and me used to copy the three different whistles he did at random times and found it pretty funny (because we were very strange people lol)
 
If I remember right, and it's been a long time Chaos Theroy is the best of the old Splinter Cell games, especially if you give the co-op section of the game a try.
 
Also for next, I'd say Crisis Core, it's a good game to go for, although it really will take up a large chunk of your time, although as it's a portable game it's a good 
side game to play on the bus or something while you play a bigger game.

#3 Posted by Daryl (1781 posts) -

These are the kinda blogs I enjoy. Thanks for writing it. 

#4 Posted by Sweep (8790 posts) -

Every time I read your blog's its like going back in time by about 7 years! You give me these creepy flashbacks...
 
I agree that the illusion of freedom in Splinter Cell games is easily shattered - more often than not by clunky AI. The enemy ability to spot me through solid objects was uncanny. One of the main issues I had with the Splinter Cell games was my own fault, I was often too scared to advance at a steady pace, too worried about failure. Conviction looks to be a lot more fast-paced, as Double Agent was I suppose, which may allow players to be less cautious, although considering I am now older and (I like to think) wiser than when I played these games originally I may just be approaching the same situations from a new perspective. I guess the only way for me to find out is to go back and replay the originals...
 
Great blog Dank :)

Moderator
#5 Posted by ElectricHaggis (630 posts) -

Great blog.  Hopefully Splinter Cell: Conviction lives up to the expectations, I could do with a good stealth game.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.