Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow
Content at a glance:
Computer Platform: Xbox (Microsoft)
Produced by: Ubisoft
Learning curve time: 1-2 hrs.
Age level: Teen to Adult
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Reviewed By: Josh
VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER
Genre: Action Adventure
Christian Rating: 3 of 5 (average)
Gameplay: 5 of 5 (excellent)
Violence: 3 of 5 (mild)
Adult Content: 4 of 5 (barely present)
In a day in which shooting games are the norm, I find it quite refreshing to be able to play a slow paced game in which suspense surrounds both the story and the action. “Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow” is just that. Featuring spies, diverse locales, and tons of gadgets, “Pandora Tomorrow” is bound to please anyone who is remotely interested in modern military espionage or stealth games.
The year is 2006 and there is political unrest in Indonesia. Since the nation of East Timor gained its independence, the United States has established an embassy there to help the Timorese fight off Indonesian militants. In a surprise attack a militia called the Darah Dan Doa, led by CIA trained Suhadi Sadono, has taken the U.S. embassy by force. It is up to Third Echelon’s top agent Sam Fisher to extract data directly from the site, which could shed light on Sadono’s master plan.
“Pandora Tomorrow” is the second game set in the “Splinter Cell” universe. What this game was made to do it does extremely well; the core mechanics of “Pandora Tomorrow” are solid. In fact, the only real drawback is the high level of difficulty this game presents. It goes like this: either play by the game’s rules or you’re out. It is very easy to fail missions, and gamers who aren’t willing to redo big chunks of the levels will find themselves frustrated.
This game implements the Unreal Engine 2.0 to generate top notch light and shadow effects, which is a huge part of the gameplay. Since it is Fisher’s job to stay hidden, players need to remain in the shadows to avoid being seen by enemy patrols or civilian bystanders. There are a number of one-man stealth tactics that can be used, such as throwing objects to distract guards and performing SWAT turns over doorways. It is very important to pay attention to the environment, and players who do will be rewarded with alternate passages or extra equipment.
Sam is equipped with all kinds of gadgetry, and using these gadgets is half the fun. Knockout gas, sticky cameras, flash bangs, and silenced machine guns are included in his arsenal. Personally, my favorite gadget is the silenced pistol, which has more uses than any other tool in the game. You can use it to shoot out lights, to take out cameras, or to defend yourself. The pistol also comes with a laser sight, which both improves your aim and adds a nice dramatic touch.
There are also many athletic moves that the player can use in “Pandora Tomorrow.” I was happy to see the return of the split jump in this game, which can be used to by players to prop themselves up in narrow corridors. In some areas, players can climb up vertical pipes or hang from the ceiling to deliver sneak attacks from above.
I was especially pleased by the diversity of the game’s eight lengthy missions. In-game locales include an Indonesian village, a French cryogenics lab, the streets of Jerusalem, and the Los Angeles Intl. Airport. There are a few outdoor missions, which add a whole new dimension to the game thanks to their outstanding use of color balance, grass, and water effects.
“Pandora Tomorrow’s” graphics are still good even today. The game’s engine makes great use of dynamic lighting, and the designers created gorgeous character models and environments. In fact, without the high quality graphics and real-time lighting this game might have fallen apart. The audio is also some of the best I’ve heard in a video game. It’s not the roar of machine guns or the voice acting that impresses me most, but rather the pitter-patter of footsteps and the brushing of tall grass against your character. The subtleties of those kinds of effects are what place “Pandora Tomorrow” in a more immersive, more realistic atmosphere than most games.
“Pandora Tomorrow” has obvious political overtones to it, but this really captures the tension that the developers wanted it to have. Everything about the game is tense, from the plot to the well-done musical score.
The most common way to take care of enemies is to grab them from behind. From there you can interrogate the bad guy or knock him unconscious. Shooting is an option, but it is discouraged by your superiors. Using non-lethal tactics is really the best method to go about this game, as killing is forbidden in some parts of it. I found that it is possible to go the whole time without killing anybody until the last level, in which you are ordered to carry out an assassination.
This is my least favorite part of the game. Sam’s boss, Lambert, frequently uses the words d*** and h***. Whenever you blow your cover during a mission, he says, “For Christ’s sake, Fisher! The mission is over!” Not only is he using Christ’s name in vain, he sounds annoying while doing it!
There isn’t much spirituality about the game, although there are some references to religion in the Jerusalem level. At the start of the level your friend Coen says, “Welcome to Jerusalem, the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.” Sam Fisher replies, “So this is where all that peace and love came from?”
I was happy to see the following words inscribed on one of the buildings in Jerusalem: “Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Although it was probably meant to be no more than scenery, I was uplifted to see the name of Christ used correctly in a video game for once.
Other Concerns: *minor spoiler ahead*
The military/political setting of “Pandora Tomorrow” was created in typical Tom Clancy fashion, which means that the whole game is too complex for kids. In one cut-scene there are some disturbing images of smallpox, which ties in to the game’s plot.
What “Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow” delivers is the virtual thrill of silently infiltrating enemy territory. The action is realistic, yet far-out enough for players to realize that it’s just fictional. “Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow” is one of my favorite games because it offers a unique, challenging experience most of them lack these days.
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Year of Release — 2004
[tags] 4 stars, Action, Xbox (Microsoft), T (Teen), Ubisoft [/tags]
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.
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