Review: Splinter Cell

You've played it on Xbox, you've played it on PS2 and now it has finally come to Ninty's Gamecube: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. Gamecube owners will finally know what it feels like to take control of secret agent Sam Fisher and infiltrate behind enemy lines using silenced handguns, night vision goggles, optic cables and many more nifty gadgets.

For all of you who haven't gotten a chance to play SC on any of the other platforms, here's a brief explanation of what the game is all about: you take control of special agent Sam Fisher, who has been recruited by the United States' National security Agency (NSA) as a member of the top-secret unit Third Echelon. It's your mission to head to the former USSR-state of Georgia to investigate the disappearance of two of your colleage's. As you venture further and further into the game, you'll find out that there's definately something rotten going on in Georgia and eventually, all that stands between our planet and World War III But it may take a while before you get THAT far.

Splinter Cell is all about stealth. Burst through the door with guns blazing, and you'll often end up dead. Make too many noises, and there's a fair chance you'll end up dead too. Get spotted by guards, and you'll end up dead for sure. This game is not easy at all. To be succesful at playing this game you'll have to stay sharp, and be patient all the time. Sometimes you need to wait for minutes on end for a sentry to leave his post, so that you have some time to pass through a hallway or corridor. Don't expect enemy guards to just forget about you once they've spotted you. They will call a comrade, sound the alarm or just hunt you down relentlessly. Because Sam doesn't have any official backing from his superiors, it's absolutely nessessary to remain on your guard...too many alarms and the mission's over.

Luckily, Sam's got a whole bunch of moves at his disposal. He's a definate sneaking-champion, he can sidle along the walls, peek around corners, rappel from buildings and do a Van Damme-style split jump. On top of that, he's got all kinds of cool equipment: night vision goggles, an optic cable to peek under doors, a lockpick for, well...picking locks, a silenced handgun and many more handy gadgets to make his job easier. The further you progress in the game, the more items become available. During missions, you'll constantly receive new orders and information from your superiors. Not only do they provide you with up-to-date intelligence, their radio-contact with you also helps to keep the story going.
A special treat for GBA-owners is that, by linking up with Splinter Cell, you can view a radar on the little handheld's screen. This feature can be a real life-saver, because it gives the player critical information on the wherabouts of enemies, mines and security camera's. Also, during some missions it's possible to place 'sticky bombs' on walls or even enemies' backs! This is a GBA-only feature, so in order to start bombing you need to link-up. This treat isn't present in the other versions of SC and you might expect it to 'lessen' the difficulty a bit. Not so, because bombing your way through a level isn't exactly 'stealthy'. Caution should always be top priority: don't leave any traces that could give you away. Hide the bodies of defeated enemies in the shadows or someone else is bound to discover them, raising the security level.


The graphics look good. Unfortunately, they don't look as good as in the Xbox-version. Some of the scenery has been 'simplified' a bit because the Cube just doesn't have all the raw power that the Xbox has. No matter though, because other effects, like lighting and shadow effects are all handled very well. The design team has done an outstanding job with the animation. Whether Sam is sneaking, crawling, climbing, it all looks absolutely believable. It's a pity that sometimes some clipping occurs; an arm disappearing in the wall kind of 'breaks' the enchantment.

The environments in which the game take place also look very realistic. You have to appreciate the little details: tv-screens, books lying on the ground, paintings, kitchen furniture. The developers did their best to make every setting look as real as possible.


The sound effects are clear, crispy and functional. As with the graphics, there's plenty of detail here. It really makes a difference whether you're walking on grass, metal or glass shards. Of course, experienced SC-players want to make as little sound as possible. However, you can use sound to distract enemies as well: just throw an empty bottle and the loud noise it makes will lure any guard away from their curent location. Beware though! Some guards are smart enough to check out WHERE the bottle came from.

The voice acting isn't spectacular, but it's absolutely not bad at all. The voice of Sam really suits him, but on the other hand: it's just a bit corny to give all the (mostly Russian) enemies a "Command & Conquer"-style accent. (Remember "Reporting"?)


As always, the most important factor. For all it's greatness, I do have a few problems with Splinter Cell's gameplay. Although there are multiple ways to get past a sentry, the game lets you follow a very strict path: obtain data, find contact, kill mobster. There isn't much to do OUTSIDE your specified orders. It makes sense of course, because it would be a pretty dumb idea to go and start playing around during a top secret black-op, but I'm the kind of person that likes a little exploration in a game.

Secondly, why isn't it possible to save at any time during a mission? Only during specific moments the game offers you the opportunity to save your game and there are various 'checkpoints' to restart from if you screw up. But in a game like this, I want to be able to decide WHERE and WHEN I save.

And that is mainly because of this game's sheer difficulty. Don't get me wrong, it's not the hardest game ever...but still. You need to keep your wits above you at all times, or you're done for. The enemy A.I. is high, but luckily(?) you can sometimes take advantage of it's 'stupidity'. What about knocking a person down while three meters away there's someone else not noticing a thing? Strange...he should've heard the 'oomph' sound of his comrade.

These are minor 'mistakes' though... more important are the controls, which are very responsive, although it may take a while before you fully get to grips with it. The camera can be a pain sometimes, but you'll get used to it. Just be sure to keep that C-stick handy.

Final say

This is a game that might not appeal to everybody. Don't get me wrong, Splinter Cell is a *very good* product, but if you're not a big fan of the creepy, sneaky business than this might not be the right game for you. If you DO like stealth games however, than you absolutely have to check this one out. Hiding in the shadows never has been a more thrilling experience! A welcome addition to the GC library and a classic in it's own right.

N-Europe Final Verdict

SC provides an excellent gameplay experience and you will find yourself coming back to it time and again.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals4
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Lots of exitement
Realistic feel
One of a kind


Slighty linear gameplay
Perhaps not for everybody

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