It is time to step back into the shadows. Information warfare has evolved into the most dangerous threat to global stability. In the third release in the Splinter Cell series, Chaos Theory, the year is 2008 and you are once again Sam Fisher Third Echelon’s top agent. To achieve your missions you will have to kill at close-range, attack with your knife, shoot with your prototype Land Warrior rifle, and use my personal favorite, the inverted neck break. As an added bonus cooperative mode is back from Splinter Cell 2: Pandora Tomorrow where you and a friend can take on special infiltration missions.
Previous versions of Splinter Cell focused primarily on investigation and elimination of normal terrorism, but Chaos Theory ventures into terrorism in the information age, in this case called information warfare.
Japan, suffering from a storm of information terrorism, has created the Information Self Defense Force (ISDF). This is viewed by North Korea and China as a violation of international law, and they have taken the matter into their own hands using shipping blockades across the Korean strait. Seemingly unrelated missions at the beginning of the game naturally become tied together by the end of the game as Sam zips around the world.
The core game is very similar to previous versions, but there are some good improvements. Chaos Theory has ten single player missions. New to this version are multiple objectives (primary, secondary, and optional). The primary objectives are required, but secondary and optional objectives count towards your overall mission success rating. You are also rated on the total number of guards killed versus how often you are detected.
At the beginning of each mission, you receive a briefing, and then you get to choose your weapon loadout. The loadout choices are stealth, assault tactics, and the final option is a mix of the first two options. Even if you’re an experienced player, you’re probably going to want to experiment so that you can experience some of the new weapons.
These include a sniper and shotgun attachments for your SC-20K rifle. Back are the airfoil and sticky camera attachments. New to my memory is that the pistol gets an OCP that can be used to temporarily disrupt lights and surveillance cameras, which saves the use of ammo and helps to attract less attention. In addition to new rifle accessories, Sam’s abilities have been enhanced to include new stealth attacks, including expand use of the knife in both combat and non-combat situations.
New to Sam’s optic menu is EMF, which lights up electronic equipment. Also the noise meter now tracks the amount of ambient sound in the area and adjusts the amount of noise you can make without being heard.
Also new to my memory is that some doors require a code key. If you do not have to code key you need to hack the lock (sort of a mini-game). Other options include bashing in the door, which is helpful if you know a guard is just on the other side as you get an automatic KO, but if you make to much noise or take too long the table can be reversed on you. The final option is that you can smash the lock, but once this is spotted, the guards begin to search for you.
The AI for Chaos Theory seems to have undergone a significant improvement. The enemies seem to pay a lot more attention to the details around them including noticing broken glass, broken locks and other items that may have been moved. They also seem to search a wide area once alerted, and sometimes they take cover once attacked.
Multiplayer is back! There are 4 special co-op missions where you play two unnamed Third Echelon operatives. The missions happen simultaneously with the main game. With these missions teamwork seems to be the key to survival. Also back is the spies versus mercenaries game where two teams of two battle each other. There are six new maps and five retooled version of the maps found in Pandora Tomorrow. Disc Hunt mode is where spies need to collect all the discs in an area. Death match is basically team elimination. The final multiplayer mode is the story mode, where you take on normal splinter cell objectives such as extractions and such.
The graphics in Splinter Cell Chaos Theory are simply amazing. I have had the opportunity to see both the PC and Xbox versions of the game, and both are astounding. In the first mission you’re a sent to the Peruvian coast to infiltrate a lighthouse, and the coast looks like a moving photo.
Good audio is the hallmark of a good stealth game, and Splinter Cell has not lost its edge across the three versions.
Again taking on the voice of Sam Fisher is the great Michael Ironside, who has added his personality and humor to the role (Note: don’t skip the cut scenes in any SC game). I mentioned the beauty of the Peruvian coast a few seconds ago, add to that the subtle sounds of a crashing surf, and picture that throughout the entire game and you might be able to take in the amazingly wonderful audio in Chaos Theory. The last thing I am going to touch on, is make sure you listen to the guards as they walk around talking. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so just listen.
Splinter Cell Chaos Theory takes the stealth FPS to the next level. It is obvious that Ubi Soft put a lot of time and effort into every aspect of this game and it shows at every level. For me it is very rare to give a game top marks in every category, but in the case of SC Chaos Theory it is well deserved, and I knew it from the moment I started playing the first mission, and I was never disappointed from start to finish.