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Splinter Cell Chaos Theory’ is a reason to own an xBox

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Political thrillers are hard to come by in video games, let alone ones with decent plots. The average video game feels as if it were penned by a teenager, with all the angst and illogical trappings that follow. So it is a rare treat that a famous author like Tom Clancy has helmed the plot behind the “Splinter Cell” theories.Tom Clancy is no stranger to political thrillers or video games for that matter. Having already written many books on politics, he has branched out into video games. Initially, he fostered the “Rainbow Six” series of games, which were well received and critically acclaimed. Now Clancy is lending his name and talents to “Splinter Cell” – and what a series it has become. “Splinter Cell” is now in its third installment and has grown to define the modern stealth action game. The plots always revolve around the standard Clancy formula, with the protagonist traveling around the world and foiling the bad guys. Usually there is someone who needs to be rescued, or someone else needs to be interrogated. However, the mission plotlines are not what stand out. A typical mission would seem at home in a couple of different games. Unlike previous versions, the player is given more of an option on how to proceed through each level. Sam Fisher, the hero of “Splinter Cell,” is a covert operative with many lethal skills. However, players did not previously get to see much of those skills, since Fisher had to remain in the shadows and avoid detection. The third installment has taken a different route. While it is recommended that Fisher stay in the shadows, this is not always necessary. For example – the rebels have a hostage in their camp, and only the hero can rescue him. Slinking through the shadows, you notice a spotlight you can’t avoid. Taking out your pistol, you shoot out the light, and proceed forward. A guard suddenly appears, drawn by the noise. In a few seconds he might see you, and raise the alarm. However, taking him out might expose your position. Such is one of the many choices given to the player.In a scene like this, players can use more aggressive routes and heavier weapons to move through the level. It is in the multiplayer setting that this game truly shines. For the first time, a cooperative mode has been added to “Splinter Cell.” This mode is standalone, separate from the main game. Two players can be operatives in training and help each other through many levels of espionage. It can also be done on a split-screen, so people without Live or a system link can still play together.The deathmatch style of multiplayer is still very good as well. Introduced in the second “Splinter Cell,” the deathmatch revolves approximately four players. Splinter Cell took a more thoughtful route than other games in doing away with the frenetic multiplayer. The four players are broken into two teams – the mercenaries and the spies. The spies play a lot like the single player campaign. Their view is in the third person, and they can perform all the acrobatic tricks Sam Fisher could. The mercenaries play a bit more like the standard deathmatch. Given a first person view similar to Halo’s, they are given weapons and must prevent the spies from achieving their objective. The combination of the two teams can lead to some intense deathmatches, as both sides are given some nasty little tricks.Overall, this is a very fun game. When in need of a stealth fix, look no further. “Splinter Cell Chaos Theory” is one of the reasons to own an X-Box.