Sam Fisher is bac…. uhh, actually, no, he’s not. He is making another appearance in another Splinter Cell-branded title, though. However, it’s a remake of one of the most beloved Splinter Cell titles of all time: Chaos Theory. The third instalment in the series, Chaos Theory had, by far, the most interesting storyline, coupled with ridiculously amazing graphics, and a thrilling conclusion to it all that is worthy of the highest-budget action films. This game keeps that intact for the most part, but loses one of the most important parts of the series: Artificial Intelligence. More on that in a bit.
The game gets right a lot of what made it famous the first time around: the audio is phenomenal and sounds just like it did in the original, which is quite a feat considering we’re comparing very, very late-generation XBOX to early generation 3DS. With that said, I guess it speaks more for the capability for the hardware than it does for the developer – I’m not sure that much care would’ve really been put into this game if it had been made from scratch.
Speaking of reused materials – all the cutscenes in the game are taken from the original game, which is not a bad thing at all, but the difference between the in-game graphics and cutscenes is much larger than it was when we rocked this game on the XBOX all those years ago. The graphics simply aren’t great on this tiny screen, and the 3D effect doesn’t do anything but ghost the image a bit.
Those familiar with the series will actually find themselves given a bit more of a challenge this time around, not because the games are harder, but rather because they’re laid out in a way that is presumably less of a memory hog on the portable console. With that said, the level design is still up there with the best of the best, so you’re not missing out on anything there.
There are three other real shortcomings of Splinter Cell 3D: loading times, the control scheme, and the AI. Loading times aren’t horrendous, except that, well, yes they actually are, and there are so many spots in which you need to reload! What happened to the good ol’ days that meant that cartridge based games didn’t need loading? That just doesn’t make any sense to me. The control scheme was horrible at first, but you’ll get used to it. They’ve gone with a fake dual-analog setup in which the ABXY buttons actually become your right joystick for moving the camera around. It works quite well once you’ve had about a half hour to get used to it. Using the touchscreen to select items is effective, although not super responsive nor is it as quick as it should be for being a secret agent super-spy like Sam Fisher. Lastly, the AI. Yuck. Let’s just say that you can get away with a lot of running and gunning in this game. Okay, not so much running and gunning as running and knocking the guy in the face, but you get my point. Often, enemies look around when you’re right in front of them and other times they’re shooting at nothing, and you can literally watch and laugh at them. Beyond that, the game has an interesting dynamic to tell you when the enemies have lost sight of you, since the game relies less on light and dark and more on, well, guessing that you’re invisible to the enemy.
Overall, Splinter Cell 3D holds up incredibly well for a game that was released back in the first half of last decade, and it really doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. Think about it – Ubisoft released four Splinter Cell games in six years and then took another four just to release one. Now, that one (Conviction, of course), was great – and you should read our review of it HERE – and the devs even used somethings like projected text on this version of the game as well. Okay, so the projected text was really just floating 3D text, but nonetheless, it looks pretty neat and helps out quite a bit when you’re not quite sure what to do.