Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow Review
This is a respectable port overall, and if you consider it only in the context of the PlayStation 2's library, it's still a great game.
Earlier this year, Ubisoft released Xbox and PC versions of the sequel to its blockbuster hit Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. Pandora Tomorrow not only offered more of the same sort of spectacular single-player stealth action from the first game, again starring ultrasecret agent Sam Fisher, but also boasted a genuinely innovative, new multiplayer mode for up to four players, in which small groups of spies must match wits with heavily armed mercenaries in a deadly game of hide-and-seek. Now this experience can be had in watered-down form on the PlayStation 2. This latest version of the game doesn't look as good as its counterparts, and, in particular, its single-player portion suffers from poor pacing caused by too many abrupt checkpoints, save points, and loading times that have been injected into each level. Fortunately, the multiplayer portion of the game is relatively intact. Nevertheless, if you have the means to play the Xbox or PC version of Pandora Tomorrow instead, then you should. But this is a respectable port overall, and if you consider it only in the context of the PlayStation 2's library, it's still a great game.
The title of Pandora Tomorrow refers to a code phrase used by the presumed villain of the game, a guerrilla leader threatening the free world with a biological contagion. In the single-player portion of the game, you'll reprise the role of Sam Fisher and track this culprit around the globe, in locations ranging from a speeding passenger train hurtling across Paris, to a military camp in Indonesia. The first Splinter Cell game took place predominantly in building interiors, which were richly detailed but naturally mundane. One of Pandora Tomorrow's obvious improvements on its predecessor is in how it takes place in more-exotic locales. In Indonesia, you'll creep through the brush, perhaps using the dense foliage to hide the bodies of your victims out of sight. On the passenger train, you'll shimmy along the outside to avoid detection and will come dangerously close to being flung to your death from the fast-moving car. This train level comes pretty early on in the campaign and is the shortest and probably the most impressive of the game's missions.
There are only eight missions in total, and while the previous versions' levels felt pretty substantial, these missions feel somewhat stripped down--regardless of whether you've played the other versions or not. As mentioned, your progress will be frequently interrupted by invisible barriers; sometimes you'll barely get past one or two guards before the next checkpoint or save point. In consequence, the missions lack a sense of cohesiveness, and when you combine that with this version's less-impressive graphics as compared to its counterparts, the result is a single-player campaign that's still pretty good, but not great.
The core gameplay is basically the same as in the first Splinter Cell. You'll sneak your way through the game's linear scenarios, avoiding or incapacitating any unsuspecting guards (or, sometimes, civilians) who might otherwise threaten your mission of secrecy. It's not difficult to alert passersby to your presence, either by moving too quickly (or otherwise making too much noise) or by blundering into a well-lit area. There are other nasty surprises in store for you. Hidden antipersonnel mines (visible only when you toggle your thermal vision), infrared trip wires (likewise), booby traps, motion detectors, security cameras, and other such devices can make the going pretty tough at times.
You've got plenty of tricks up your sleeve, too. Fisher is typically armed with a silenced pistol as well as his trusty SC20K multipurpose experimental assault rifle, which he can use for some silent sniping when lethal force is permitted or which he can use to fire off a variety of different gadgets. Those who played Splinter Cell will recognize all of these, which range from diversionary cameras to smoke grenades to electrifying (but nonlethal) rounds. Fisher's other gadgets include lock picks, an optical fiber wire used for seeing what's on the other side of a closed door, and his combined night vision/thermal vision goggles. He's decked out to get the job done by any means necessary.
Pandora Tomorrow's storyline is somewhat easier to follow than that of its predecessor, and some of the gameplay elements are thankfully a bit more transparent this time around. For example, the game inherits a somewhat contrived element from its predecessor: In Splinter Cell you needed to hide the bodies of your victims out of sight to avoid setting off an alarm, which would possibly result in the failure of your mission. You needed to hide all bodies even when there was no one left conscious to pay them much heed. Pandora Tomorrow at least makes it clear that this is always necessary, since you'll be chastised for not doing it. Also, in most missions, you don't automatically fail if an alarm is sounded; you'll be afforded up to three such mistakes, though at scripted points in each mission, the alarm stage will reset back to zero, and you'll be able to proceed somewhat less anxiously.
- Player Reviews: 69
- Game Universe:
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six (DC, GBC, N64, PS, PC),
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon (XBOX, PC, GC, PS2, MAC, NGE),
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 (XBOX, PS2, GC, MOBILE),
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear (PC, PS, DC, PS2, GBA, MAC),
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (XBOX, PC, PS2, GC, GBA, NGE, MOBILE, MAC, PS3),
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Island Thunder (PC, XBOX, PS2),
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow (PC, XBOX, PS2, GC, GBA, MOBILE, PS3),
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm (PS2, NGE, MOBILE),
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2 (PS2, XBOX, GC, PC),
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (PC, XBOX, NGE, PS2, GC, DS, 3DS)
- Offline Modes:
- Online Modes:
- Number of Players: