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Splinter Cell: Double Agent (GameCube) Review

It's a very sad sight to see a console on it's last legs, especially one that's given gaming so many world class experiences. The GameCube is certainly one of those consoles and the old girl is now getting ready to pack herself away as the younger, more attractive Wii prepares to enter the console market. She's given us some great experiences, with the likes of Metroid Prime and SSBM embedding themselves firmly into gaming folklore but the old problem of "kiddy" Nintendo has haunted the little purple box and meant it never really captured the imagination of the public. It's ironic then that one of the final games to appear on the console is a dark look into the world of terrorism and the life of a double agent. Sam Fisher's life is over so he's taken his most dangerous assignment yet, but will it act as a superb swansong for the GameCube or will GC owners everywhere be hoping Sam doesn't return from this mission...

The Tom Clancy branch of games has certainly reinvented itself this generation. It was previously thought of as primarily the domain of the PC with any console conversions suffering from overly complex controls and a generally poor gameplay experience. Now we have the likes of Rainbow Six looking at home on consoles and the Splinter Cell series combining the realism of the Clancy world with the playability of a console action game. For many Chaos Theory was the epitome of the franchise with all the aspects refined brilliantly and graphics that were simply stunning, so to change things Ubi Soft decided to turn the whole series on it's head by handing the gamer more power than ever before. Now you choose which side Sam obeys, you choose which objectives to complete and you choose what path the plot takes. Well at least in theory, you see...being a double agent turns out to be a very familiar experience.
On a regular mission Sam and a fellow Splinter Cell discover that a nuclear device has slipped into terrorist hands, however the mission is cancelled close to the end as Sam's daughter has been killed in a car accident. Sam decides to go renegade along with his boss and become a double agent, infiltrating the organisation by winning a terrorist ally in prison and helping said ally break out. Very risky, very dangerous... but Sam has nothing left to live for so may as well take the most dangerous missions left. Upon infiltrating he finds out that the NSA now know of the action and will supply objectives of their own to complete. The idea is that you have to try and balance the wants of the terrorists and the NSA without attracting suspicion or ignoring either. Ignore the NSA and you'll essentially lose all respect and get killed. Ignore the terrorists and you die.

Screenshot for Splinter Cell: Double Agent on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

In reality though it doesn't work like this, because the entire alliance system is simply not refined enough. The way it works is that in each mission you'll have a list of objectives for whichever organisation you are working for. Within this there will be one or two objectives that you can do in differing ways. For example, an early mission has you discover a traitor within the terrorist ranks. The NSA want it the info to try and use him themselves, the terrorists want it to kill him and make him an example. Whichever one you choose will swing your allegiances to the terrorists or the NSA. Whichever one you swing towards will adjust the missions you play and the equipment you get. The problem is if you play through normally then inevitably you'll sit with zero allegiances and get the neutral ending, and the game rewards this by giving you the pick of equipment.
Another problem is that whether or not you work for the terrorists or the NSA the gameplay stays the same as previous games in the series. There are one or two new mechanics and new moves but it's pretty much indistinguishable from Chaos Theory. Most missions still have you sneaking around, minimizing casualties and getting to a computer or something similar to transmit info or destroy it. This would be fine if we hadn't already had three games displaying this gameplay but when the potential was there for a genuinely different gameplay experience, well it disappoints slightly. There are new parts when you can influence a cutscene through button presses (think Shenmue QTE's) but these are few and far between and only act as set piece cutscenes between the traditional Splinter Cell gameplay. Perhaps it's time to look at the series and really renovate it for the next iteration...

Screenshot for Splinter Cell: Double Agent on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Only a fool would think that this version would have the same time and love given to it as the Xbox 360/PS2 version. We know this will have been rushed in comparison and as a result will not be as polished and not make full use of the hardware. However that is no excuse for the frankly embarrassing graphics on show that detract hugely from the atmosphere that the series is famous for. Textures are simply laughable and character models are hilarious. You rarely see Sam's face in game but when you do he looks like he's had one too many cans of Red Bull and is just a bit hyper. Eyes wide open and mouth slightly ajar, compared to the concept art he looks like a different person. The aforementioned poor textures really have to be seen to be believed but trust us when we say that N64 quality is no exaggeration. Imagine standing and being baffled as to how to climb to a window, before squinting at the screen and seeing that the drain pipe is so poorly drawn against the poor looking wall that you can't see it. Incidences like this crop up all through the game and whilst we at Cubed3 do not judge games solely on graphics it's clearly a major problem when a game so relying on atmosphere has graphics so poor that it affects gameplay. There's really no excuse for it as well, Chaos Theory had better graphics... hell Pandora Tomorrow looks better. The soundtrack is as impressive as ever with subtle use to heighten tension and superb use of no music at all at times to truly unsettle the gamer. Voice acting is of a very high quality and the various "guard chatter" whilst similar to Chaos Theory does the job superbly.

Screenshot for Splinter Cell: Double Agent on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The Splinter Cell series (whilst successful) is in no way consistent. The first was sublime, Pandora Tomorrow was poor and Chaos Theory marked a return to form. The signs were that this could be a new era for the series, back-to-back impressive games and with an intriguing new double agent system. Alas we have another disappointment with no change in gameplay, an allegiance system that is easily manipulated and graphics that show this up for the poor port that it is. That's not to say it's a bad game, if you enjoy the series then it offers a similar experience... it's just we were promised so much more. And even if you do enjoy the game it's sad to say but the GC version is probably the worst port you could pick up, Ubi Soft have always been great supporters of the GC but this is a very sad way for them to sign out of GameCube development. Do yourself a favour and pick up Chaos Theory cheap if you need a stealth fix, you'll save money and show Ubi that we deserve more than half assed ports of above average games.

Screenshot for Splinter Cell: Double Agent on GameCube- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

The whole double agent aspect is pretty easy to keep in check and doesn't affect gameplay as much as we were lead to believe prior to release. Core gameplay is identical to previous games in the series, but it's really time to get some fresh ideas into the series.

Graphics

Pathetic, utterly disgraceful for a last gen title and shows this up for the lazy port it is.

Sound

As always with Tom Clancy games the soundtrack shines out with intelligent use of music and ambient sounds to set the atmosphere. Combined with great voice acting and you have a major saving grace for the game.

Value

Multiple endings and non linear paths through levels means if you do enjoy the game then you'll get quite a lot of mileage out of it.

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Average

About this score

A major disappointment from a game that promised so much but delivers so many flawed aspects that cripple the game. If only the double agent aspect affected gameplay more, and if they'd taken more time over the GC version then this would have a much higher score but alas this just feels like a rushed sequel on a dead console. Bested by the previous games of the series and sits firmly in the average category of GC games.

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05.11.2006

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5452

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Developer

Ubisoft

Publisher

Ubisoft

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (4 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Dang, that's a real shame. Why be so lazy porting it? I LOVE Splinter Cell games but I'm not about to waste my money on this. Hopefully it'll be better on the Wii, it sure looks cool from the gameplay videos.

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

Hate to tell you but apparently it's unplayable on Wii as it's a very rushed job.

The X360 version is the best by far.

I've never played a Gamecube version of Splinter Cell, always on the Xbox, but by the sounds of things; on current gen this is a big dissapointment.

Hate to tell you but apparently it's unplayable on Wii as it's a very rushed job.

Damnit Ubisoft :roll:

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

From the videos I've seen it didn't look anywhere near as bad as that hands on made the Wii version seem. I think I'll probably just get it for the GC anyway, but it's true, they're always terrible compared to the other ports... Such a shame... Such brilliant games ;_;

Still a proud member of the 'omfg amazing water in games' society

So much for the screenshots.

It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.

Yeah, no idea which "current gen" they took those from. Can only be a high end pc in my opinion.

Oh dear and after enjoying all three splinter cell games that have came out, even the mobile phone game.
The poor graphics aspect really pisses me off though as I think that Chaos theory had some of the best graphics on Gamecube.

-Have you any idea what it's like to be a Fembot living in a Manbot's Manputer's world?
-What?

Oh that sucks...Splinter Cell is better than Metal Gear and I don't want to have to result to buying a Sony game...

Personally never seen what was so good about Splinter Cell games.


Mike Gee of iZINE said, "...The Verve, as he promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the clichť. They were the statement and the definition."

Shame. The Wii one will probably be just the same with the added 'brilliance' of waggling the remote to pick some locks.

Good review, though.

Ubisoft need to start talking to ALL their devisions to take Nintendo consoles seriously and not just a select few putting in the effort, or else.........

With lack-lustered and totally lazy developement, they wonder why people refuse to buy this for their Gamecube? Bunch of lazy fools......Anyway with the new genertion consoles, with each company taking a substantially different approach from the other, guess what developers.......porting games is gonna be harder........

and all you lazy developers and you know your rotten names, that churned out low quality tripe in the form of ports to unique consoles such as Gamecube are gonna find it so difficult to do in this console era that you'll just have to accept the facts which is YOU HAVE NO TALENT and should happily spend the rest of your miserable days in a vat of boiling water, or the dole queue.......especially you wanks making the Splinter Cell games at Ubisoft...........you're a bunch of sad losers.......!

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