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Cian Hassett
10 Apr, 2011

Splinter Cell 3D Review

3DS Review | The downfall of Sam Fisher.
We're feeling old today. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory was released six years ago and poor Sam Fisher is still trying valiantly to mirror his early days. Chaos Theory is considered to be the best in the franchise because of its balance between traditional stealth and realistic action. Striking that balance has never been more difficult, as seen in Sam's most recent outing, Conviction. We've missed Splinter Cell dearly, as it remains one of the only true stealth games out there. Even Metal Gear Solid would struggle to classify itself as a stealth game, instead choosing to focus on mind boggling stories over snapping necks. Now with a brand new system on the market, it's only natural that Sam Fisher emerges from the dark and into a port of his best adventure. Splinter Cell 3D is one of several remakes confirmed for Nintendo's 3DS, and it's a shambles.

We're not going to talk much about the story, follow this link if you haven't played Chaos Theory before. Splinter Cell 3D is identical and the only visible difference this time around is the presentation. Objectives are now displayed using a technique found in Conviction, whereby all necessary information is cast onto the environment. It's unobtrusive and never takes full advantage of the 3D effect. Sadly, it's one of the only new additions worth mentioning because the rest of Chaos Theory has been dumbed down and made infinitely worse. Fare thee well, happy memories. It's heartbreaking because Sam Fisher and Third Echelon have the capacity to work well together. As expected, this is not the Chaos Theory we wanted.

That's what Sam should have done.

That's what Sam should have done.
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Nostalgia is the only reason why anyone would consider buying this 3D 'update', and even the most devout Splinter Cell fans will be upset at seeing Sam's fall from grace. Admittedly, hearing Fisher and Lambert chatting brings back fond memories, not forgetting the distinct sound of those iconic goggles. Sound has always played a big role within the Splinter Cell games, helping to create the atmosphere we yearn for; the gameplay however, is where Splinter Cell 3D becomes messy. It's hard not to feel sorry for Ubisoft; developers have very little room to manoeuvre around the 3DS. It's a cliched complaint, but a second analogue stick is a fundamental part of designing an effective control scheme. The camera is terrible, particularly is tight areas where it may as well be hovering behind Sam's ear. Chaos Theory has been shoe-horned onto the face buttons, hindering the player's ability to see. Then again, what other options are available? None.

Sam's inventory has been moved to the lower touch screen, somewhat compensating for the sluggish controls. The shoulder buttons are used for executing lethal and non-lethal attacks, while your stance and a few minor details can be accessed via the d-pad. Switching between crouching and standing is awkward; when Sam needs to use an evasive roll, you need to push the stick forward and press down at the same time. This causes the 3DS to move, so that sense of depth is replaced by a shimmer. It's also worth noting that playing Splinter Cell 3D outside in daylight is not an enjoyable experience, stay indoors if possible. All of the great scenarios from Chaos Theory are in here, they're just not suitable on a restricted platform. Sam will silently move around like his usual self with most of the famous techniques included minus the grace. Chaos Theory was wonderful in 2005, not so much here.

If you look closely, you might be able to find the graphics.

If you look closely, you might be able to find the graphics.
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Splinter Cell 3D isn't much to look at either, and doesn't come close to the power of a PSP title. Textures and characters are plain, that goes for Sam and his targets. Enemy mouths don't move when you're interrogating them, and Fisher's expressions are drab. However, it's the environments that suffer the most. The gameplay is centered around darkness, creeping in the shadows unnoticed and completing the mission. Splinter Cell 3D is the opposite, bright even in corners with no natural light source. Is this a result of the 3D effect or the hardware? Probably both, because the 3DS isn't able to sustain a decent frame rate and the loading times are far too long. First of all you need to load your save file, only then will you be allowed to load into the game. The fancy 3D artwork is a sweet gimmick at first, until you realise that nothing has changed in almost a minute. Let's be honest, you're only here because you want to know about the 3D. Does it improve the gameplay and is it effective?

The effect is definitely there, but the increased depth of vision does absolutely nothing for Splinter Cell 3D. You're better off playing in standard 2D to avoid feeling nauseous or dizzy. The graphics are marginally better without 3D anyway, that's not saying much but at least you can stick with it for longer periods of time and finish it off promptly. Sections of the heads-up display benefit with 3D turned on (primarily the objective markers), the rest takes a hit and when you take the shocking frame-rate into consideration, it proves that Splinter Cell 3D is a struggling performer. Finally, the cut-scenes haven't been upgraded at all, so they look identical on any setting. This isn't a good example to showcase the hardware's potential, it's more of a counter attack, exposing the weakness and confirming that Splinter Cell 3D was rushed out with minimal effort.

...and get your money back.

...and get your money back.
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Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, Splinter Cell 3D has been stripped of multiplayer. None of the modes from Chaos Theory are available, making this a strictly solo adventure. Given the wireless capabilities of the 3DS, it's big letdown to find that multiplayer has been overlooked. It probably would have been rubbish on a competitive level, but it would have been better than nothing (barely). Dedicated fans might be able to pluck ten hours from Splinter Cell 3D, at best. Your only challenging task will be to defeat the controls, otherwise you'll be able to run through the story with ease. The enemy soldiers may as well be blind-folded and have zero training, their idiocy is just another addition to a long list of faults. We would love to see Splinter Cell properly translated onto a portable device, assuming that device can handle it. The 3DS has enough on the inside to give Sam Fisher the game he deserves, but it's going to take more than a blatantly obvious rip.

Splinter Cell 3D is a bad port of a great game. It should never have been shoved onto the 3DS and it doesn't come close to the quality of the original Chaos Theory. Disregarding that and looking at it purely from a portable stealth experience, it's still poor. The 3D effect is irrelevant and you'll probably forget that it's turned on after ten minutes, the graphics are ugly, the controls are uncomfortable and the atmosphere has all but evaporated. Our advice? Forget about Splinter Cell 3D, walk down to your local retailer and buy the original for ten bucks unless you're a serious Splinter Cell fan, but even then it's hard to recommend this version.
The Score
If you have have any respect for Sam Fisher, stay well away from Splinter Cell 3D. 4
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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Tom Clancy's: Splinter Cell Essentials Review
14 Apr, 2006 Not as essential as you'd think.
25 Comments
3 years ago
Its hard to feel sorry for UbiSoft because they're an utterly incompetent half-arsed port machine. Splinter Cell on the 3DS could have been rad if they, you know, actually tried.

Another delightfully scathing review from the local Irish hooligan. I could get used to these.
3 years ago
I only feel (slightly) sorry because there's no alternative without that second stick. But I agree, it could have been so much more.
3 years ago
I learned a long time ago to stay away from an Ubisoft launch title
3 years ago
I'm playing it through now, and while its nothing compared to the console originals, Im finding it fun
3 years ago
I do wish Nintendo added a 2nd stick to the 3DS. I know they are not going for full console experience but it would have given developers a lot more options.
3 years ago
This might sound pedantic, but can we get an idea of whether or not you played it with 3D on all the time?
Quotes like:
"
PALGN wrote
You're better off playing in standard 2D to avoid feeling nauseous or dizzy.
suggest that you played large sections without the 3D on. This is fine, but perhaps something that needs to be changed in the 3DS reviews?
3 years ago
While I think a second stick is a huge benefit, I also think the best devs are the ones that can accomidate controls to a touch screen. When I see things like "Splinter Cell 3DS" I always hope they're not just copy/paste console ports, or even play exactly the same way. To mean, even if it had a second control stick, it's the most boring and uninventive way to take the franchise to a new platform. Even if it works well, its like...I'd rather play this on a console/PC, because its not doing anything to seperate itself from it's bigger brothers.

Idealy, all 3DS games would be built specifically for the 3DS. Even if that involves shaking up the controls and mechanics, because that is what will make each individual game unique and not just a downscaled console port.

But, you know, that's the ideal situation, and when I take a step out of dream land and into the real world the reality certain developers cant be arsed taking the time and effort to do this, and a happy to shoehorn whatever they've got onto another platform to make a quick buck.
3 years ago
Nintendo, from past experience, do not give out much in the way of documentation or support to devs leading up to console launch titles. They tend to get that in order and sent out a bit down the track. Well, outside of a few select parties that is.

At any rate, a lot of the initial time with these paltforms is figuring out how to work with them effectively - add to that a rush to get ready for launch, and you tend to get pretty ordinary results.

Not trying to excuse poor design decisions, but it's also not purely down to developer laziness / etc. in these matters.
3 years ago
Didn't Nintendo confirm that Ubisoft had the most time with the console before release? I'm almost certain they did, and nobody forced them to rush Splinter Cell, it was their decision. No excuses as far as I'm concerned.
3 years ago
Well, if they had access significantly earlier than other parties it would be so that they could produce launch titles. They're not going to give extended access without reason, Nintendo aren't all that forthcoming with their tools/hardware.

Still, Ubi should have been able to do better - at least from a design perspective. It's a shame.
3 years ago
Ubi becoming the new EA/Activision.

Sacrificing quality over quantity.

Ubi my fav devs last gen for their PoP and SC games. All time classics.

Can't comment on other series like Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six etc as I have never played them.,,,,but the Ubi games I have previously played have gone down in quality this gen.

Far Cry 2, beauty without substance. Conviction poor. PoP 2008 and Forgotten Sands not memorable. Only Creed is their only shining light this gen IMO.

Still they are very profitable due to their dancing games they are focusing more on this gen.
3 years ago
I'll take Far Cry 2, flaws and all, over the Creed series any day of the week.
3 years ago
Oh no he didn't.
3 years ago
The Genius wrote
PoP 2008 not memorable.
You say that like it doesn't have the best damm ending of this generation of console games.
3 years ago
Sootydog wrote
This might sound pedantic, but can we get an idea of whether or not you played it with 3D on all the time?
I had 3D turned on most of the time, but it really wasn't worth losing battery life over. I can understand how many readers want to hear all about the effect, but writing 1200 words on that single aspect wouldn't be possible. Really, we're reviewing the game, not the gimmick. That's how I would look at it anyway. No point yapping on about 3D when there are so many problems that need to be highlighted.
3 years ago
Still, the 3D is a part of the game, even if it is optional. To write a complete review, you need to cover it. All you need is a small piece in the review about it. I think you did a good job of working it in, Cian.
3 years ago
Far Cry 2 over Creed? NEVER!
3 years ago
LeonJ wrote
Far Cry 2 over Creed? NEVER!
To be fair I'd take a sack of razor blades to the face over Creed.

Well, almost.
3 years ago
LeonJ wrote
Far Cry 2 over Creed? NEVER!
It depends, are we talking Creed 1 or 2?
3 years ago
I just find it hard to believe anyone rating Far Cry 2 over anything else ever made by humans.
3 years ago
It's better than MW2.
3 years ago
Sin Ogaris wrote
It's better than MW2.
Sure, and Quantum Theory was the best game of 2010.

I just don't know how game critics can get it so wrong.
3 years ago
Because you take bribes. Crazy bribe taking journalists.
3 years ago
I was clearly bribed to give QT the lowest score on the Internet...
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  31/03/2011 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Ubisoft
Genre:
  Stealth
Year Made:
  2010

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