Opinions may well be splintered as to the worth of the 3D effect in 3DS games, but surely a genre that relies heqavily upon peeking around corners could benefit from the depth and perception of 3D?
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is undoubtedly one of the best games in the Splinter Cell series, combining the early emphasis on stealth with a good helping of pure action. This being said, it is understandable that Ubisoft would choose this title, along with Rayman 2, to port onto the spanky new Nintendo 3D handheld.
In what is typical Tom Clancy fare, the player takes on the role of Sam Fisher and infiltrates the bases of some of the world’s nastiest pieces of work. All of this is done with a methodical approach that will have Sam sneaking through the shadows and studying the patrol patterns of guards so as to get in and out with the least amount of fuss. With a huge array of different weapons and gadgets to aid you, including a new goggle setting that actually shows everything that the player really needs to see such as enemies and objectives, one would be forgiven for thinking that Sam’s job would be a walk in the park. But across the the varied locations from the game, as the player follows the carefully crafted and engaging story, the player will soon discover that no amount of gadgets and firepower can substitute for the simple action of hiding in the shadows. The game is difficult without being impossible, but a lot of this comes down to the couple of major problems that can be found in the game.
One of the major problems appears to be an oversight on the part of the developers. It is quite simply that Sam Fisher is too big. The character can obscure as much as half of the screen, making it very difficult for the player to do anything with any kind of subtlety, which is a major flaw in a game that revolves around stealth. The other major problem is the controls…
It can be said that the inclusion of the circle pad has certainly improved the controlling of most games, and Splinter Cell 3D is no different. Using the pad makes moving Sam a joy. But from a control point of view, that is the only joy to be had. A lot of sam’s actions have been mapped to the d-pad, beneath the circle pad. Such actions as crouching and jumping require the player to stop their movement and move their thumb down to the d-pad to execute, killing the flow and requiring the player to ensure they are in the right position before using such actions. The camera controls are equally as awkward, mapped to the A/B/Y/X face buttons. As a result, the camera doesn’t move as smoothly as it should, leaving the player not able to see properly what they need. Then you have the touch screen upon which are assigned various other functions. This is really uncomfortable to use and actions such as changing weapons become a test of patience.
All of which is a major issue for Splinter Cell 3D. For the most part, these problems can be overcome with practice, but is it worth putting the effort in? Well, considering that there is no multiplayer of any kind, no StreetPass and the only real innovations that take advantage of the 3DS’ capabilities, beyond the 3D effect, are wiggling the optic cable using the built-in gyroscope and some snazzy floating text as can be found in Conviction. Maybe that is enough for you?
Or maybe not. Splinter Cell 3D is a straight forward port of Chaos Theory that brings very little new to the table. That in itself would have been fine were it not for the awkward controls and obscuring view-point. As it stands, this game is difficult to recommend to any gamer.
Whilst having the 3D effect turned on can be quite impressive in adding to the atmosphere of the game, a lot of the environments make the 3D useless. It also has a negative effect on playing the game as judging distances becomes more difficult. Best played with 3D turned off.