Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow PlayStation 2
Developed by Ubisoft
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99
In March we looked at the sequel to the smash hit Splinter Cell and only the Xbox (the version we looked at) and the PC versions were available then but here we have the PlayStation version of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow. Of course the original Splinter Cell came out first on the Xbox and it was quite a while before it surfaced on the PlayStation 2. Everyone was expecting the PlayStation 2 to be graphically inferior and whilst that was the case there wasn't as much difference between the PlayStation 2 version and the Xbox version as many people had anticipated. Pandora Tomorrow on Xbox looked even better than Splinter Cell though so can Sony's console surprise us once more with what it can do?
Ridding the world of dangerous terrorists is once again your main task and the game is set in a futuristic 2006. The U.S. are intervening in political matters in the east (in the name of democracy of course) and it's causing growing tensions and resentment. This resentment has been heightened by the installation of a temporary military base on East Timor. Whilst the role of the U.S. has been met with opposition the fact that the Timorese democracy was under threat from Indonesian militias has been enough to appease the doubters. However the resentment boils over when guerilla militia leader Suhadi Sadono, in collaboration with certain factions of the Indonesian government, attack the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta taking hostages in the process. The game begins with Sam Fisher being ordered to enter the Embassy, not to rescue the hostages but to destroy certain, sensitive information before Sadono gets his hands on it.
If you've played the original Splinter Cell you'll notice from as early as the first mission all sorts of refinements that have been made. Sam can now turn a split-jump into a half-split jump and then jump again from this. In other words he can manoeuvre upwards in very tight spaces. A fancy SWAT turn can also be performed to allow Sam to pass lit gaps such as doorways with the minimum of fuss. This time around Sam has immediate access to the binoculars to allow him to see distant enemies. You can even enable thermal vision whilst using the binoculars. A new laser sight can also be used to increase your accuracy, however the red dot is there for all to see and it can warn enemies of your presence.
Splinter Cell was difficult and Pandora Tomorrow is certainly just as difficult, at least it was on the Xbox. Whilst the Xbox version had temporary checkpoints that you could go back to should you be spotted or killed they weren't permanent save points and would be erased when you turned off the console. The PlayStation 2 doesn't have any temporary save points as every single check point will allow you to save the game and this makes the game easier, much easier in fact. It's inevitable that you'll get caught at some stage though and some levels allow you to get away with temporary warnings and if you are seen three times then it's mission over. Music alerts hearing gamers to an enemy presence as it changes whenever danger is close by. It's only a small advantage for hearing gamers but nevertheless it means that deaf gamers who can't hear the music are not forewarned of impending disaster.
Pandora Tomorrow isn't just a single player experience like Splinter Cell was. Like the Xbox version it too can be taken online. You can either play as part of the Shadownet Team or the ARGUS Corporation. There are three different game modes, Neutralization, Extraction and Sabotage but they are all similar in the fact that the Shadownet Team will attempt to seize the ND133s (viral containers) and the ARGUS Corporation will attempt to stop them. Playing as the part of the Shadownet Team is pretty much the same as playing the single player game as played from a first person perspective. Playing as part of the ARGUS Corporation is a first person perspective affair which is similar to Halo or Rainbow Six 3 except for the fact that the controls don't feel quite as responsive. There are tutorials for both the Shadownet Team and the ARGUS Corporation and both these tutorials are delivered exclusively via text.
Whilst the graphics were brilliant on the Xbox the same can't be said for the PlayStation 2 version. Yes the graphics are good and yes if you haven't played the Xbox version or PC version of the game you won't know just how inferior this version of the game really is. However if you have played the PC or Xbox version then the PlayStation 2 version will look disappointing. The textures are nowhere near as good as on the other platforms and jagged edges can be seen all over the place. The famous lighting effects can also be seen in a greatly diminished form that highlights the lack of graphical muscle that the PlayStation 2 has. There are several graphical glitches too which knock even more polish off the visual quality of the game. However these aforementioned negative comments don't apply if you haven't played Pandora Tomorrow on another platform. Taken on its own merits Pandora Tomorrow looks respectable for a PlayStation 2 game and I suspect those who have the game on other formats wouldn't be looking at buying the game for the PlayStation 2 anyway.
Pandora Tomorrow on Xbox wasn't fully subtitled and unfortunately it's exactly the same on PlayStation 2. Again the cutscenes have not been subtitled and this prevents deaf gamers from getting the full flavour of the game. Whilst interrogating someone the information that you receive is not shown in text so in effect you'll be unaware of the information you've just gained. It's not all bad news though. The communications with Lambert are shown in text and the objectives are shown in text too. A flashing envelope icon will inform you that your objectives have been updated and pushing the select button will give you access to your goals, notes, inventory and data. When you drop a body into a location that offers suitable coverage your stealth meter (which gives you feedback on how well you're keeping out of the light) will flash twice to indicate that the body is well covered, which is a most welcome addition. I would have liked to have seen some kind of gauge that displayed how much noise you were making though as this would have been a great asset to deaf gamers.
Overall then the game is still a great stealth game that fans of the original Splinter Cell on the PlayStation 2 will really appreciate. It's the weakest version of Pandora Tomorrow you can buy though so if you can play the game on either a PC or Xbox then you'd be silly not to opt for those versions. The PlayStation 2 version has had to have certain compromises made such as the lowered difficulty setting, there are fewer enemies in some situations, with many more save points and some levels have been reworked to make this more manageable for the console. Longer load times are also a side effect of playing the game on the PlayStation 2. The multiplayer side of the game remains intact though and this is great news for those who like to play online. Pandora Tomorrow is not as impressive on the PlayStation 2 as it was on the Xbox but it's still one of the better games on the console.
Game Rating: 8.0/10
It's still a great game but it's not quite as impressive as it was on the Xbox.
There are a few issues for deaf gamers but the game is still very enjoyable.