Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D Review

By Darryl Kaye on April 12, 2011

Ubisoft has been one of the prime supporters of the Nintendo 3DS, sporting more launch titles than even Nintendo itself and some big name franchises too. One of those franchises is Splinter Cell, which appears in the form of Splinter Cell 3D. It's not a new game though, instead, it's a remake of a previous title, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. It's not the first time they've tried either, as a port was attempted on the Nintendo DS some years ago. But sometimes things are best left alone though, and that's exactly the case with Splinter Cell 3D.

As it's a remake, the story is much the same as the original Chaos Theory. You take control of Splinter Cell series veteran, Sam Fisher, as he attempts to stop World War III erupting. This will take you to numerous locations around the world, but you'll start off in a fairly low key environment, before making your way onto a ship. Before each mission, you'll be given a briefing, and then side-notes from many of the game's secondary characters - it's a nice touch, and helps to give you a bit more background information, if that's the thing you're looking for. If not, as the missions play out you'll be given on-the-fly directions and a little bit of filler.

The story isn't where Splinter Cell 3D's problems appear though, it's with almost everything else. Despite some re-worked controls, Splinter Cell 3D still feels very awkward to play, and not even remotely stealthy. For example, if you want to get up close to a wall, you have to neatly position yourself next to it, then take your finger off the analog stick (which controls movement), to press on the d-pad. To get out of this mode, you have to do the same thing. It makes something as simple as, attacking a guy who's around a corner, rather cumbersome.

The core mechanics are all here though, as you have detection meters for both sound and light. Sam's famous night-vision return too, which can be activated using the touch-screen. But due to the game's graphics, it's actually easier to look at the meter to tell whether you're in the light/dark than judge it for yourself. It's a bit disappointing really.

There are also the classic problems with the AI, whereby, if a guy manages to catch a glimpse of you before you take him down, the game will go into semi-alert. And despite nobody else even remotely seeing you, everyone will know where you are in an instant. It can be a little bit frustrating, because clearly the guy didn't have enough time to make a notable sound, or communicate with anyone.

Employing the game's various functions can also be a bit more troublesome than necessary. For example, if you wish to equip a firearm, you have to press the relevant part of the touch-pad, which will then put you into firing mode. If you want to go one-step further and then use a modification, like a grenade launcher extension, for example, you have to go into different menus, select it, and then come out before you can use it; at which point, you're probably dead. The same applies for grenades. If you went into a fight with the wrong grenade selected, you'll be dead before you can change it to the right one. Most of the time, it's easier to just stealth people using melee attacks, as sometimes guys won't die from gun shots, even if you hit them square in the head.

To compound the issue, the game's presentation is horrendous. Even when next to nothing is going on, the framerate will be rather low. Everything is jerky, and it gets really bad that when people are talking, their voice crackles and it gets interrupted because the game simply can't handle everything that's going on - it's not supposed to be that way. It's not like the game looks that great either, which is the disappointing thing. It just makes the entire experience feel rushed. There are other things too, like the alert music. Even after you've taken out the last guy, it will continue for at least another 5-10 seconds, making you think there's still someone else you need to take out.

Probably the only thing the touch-screen is useful for, is opening doors and selecting options. If you approach something that you can interact with, a little box will appear with options. Again, it's not that great if you're in a pinch, but otherwise it works perfectly fine and actually gives you quite a range of things.

Unfortunately, the game has little in the way of replay value. Once you complete the campaign, there's no multiplayer or versus mode options available. It's quite disappointing, although it could be seen as a good thing considering how the game plays.

Final Thoughts

Splinter Cell 3D feels like it was very rushed. It struggles to keep a stable framerate, even when nothing is going on, and most of the time it completely ruins the experience. It's not something that should happen on a console game, especially when it's a huge franchise like Splinter Cell. The gameplay is also rather fiddly, with too much reliance on the touch-pad for key elements. In short, you'll do well to completely ignore Splinter Cell 3D.

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