Economy of Effort

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Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

I’ve finished the single-player mode of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. The series ranks among my very favorites, so as you can imagine, I had a good time with this game. A little bit of the “wow” factor has been lost along the way, given that this is the third game in the same console generation. It is, however, probably the most well-executed one. If there’s disappointment, it would be merely that it does not blow the last offering, Pandora Tomorrow, out of the water. Given that Pandora Tomorrow was a superb game that was denied sufficient “Game of the Year” opportunities thanks to its early-year release (the game that impressed you 8 months ago doesn’t quite maintain the same “bang” as the game that impressed you two weeks ago), one can’t exactly take that as a very negative statement. Chaos Theory’s missions were consistantly good, but perhaps not as inspired as the very best of Pandora Tomorrow’s offerings (but probably more consistant across the board).

Another disappointment, though, would be the loss of Dennis Haysbert (from 24, Major League, and the All-State commercials) as the voice of Irving Lambert. The actor that played the role in the original game returns. He’s good, but nowhere near as powerful and commanding of a voice as Haysbert. Some of the other voice actors aren’t so good, though. The core characters (all returning actors from previous versrions) are great, but a few of the characters you encounter in the field could be a lot better. I guess it’s nice when you can be picky about the voices of small part characters - only because the major characters are so good.

The inclusion of an excellent co-op mode, as well as the return and improvement of the “spies vs. mercenaries” mode introduced in Pandora Tomorrow, really pushes Chaos Theory to the top.

Reportedly, the next Splinter Cell game will be on both the current AND the next-generation consoles. Splinter Cell represents some of the best of the current generation’s technology, and is a prime choice to showcase the next gen’s. I’m worried, though, that the next game won’t take full advantage of the power of the next-gen consoles, if it also has to be ported to the current systems. Apparently the next game will be done by Ubisoft Shanghai, who did Pandora Tomorrow (Ubisoft Montreal did the original and Chaos Theory). The tag-team approach of having each developer do every other Splinter Cell game is unique, and so far, quite effective. It lets Ubi keep the Splinter Cell games coming, while giving them each enough development time to be A-level titles.

I plan to be playing this game on Xbox Live for some time to come.