Review: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (PlayStation 2)

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Review by William Kee

Sam Fisher is back with a whole whack of new missions and a brand new story to boot.

Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow is an Ubisoft developed and published game, and the second title in the franchise. The game starts off in the Spring of 2006, where the Darah Dan Doa, an islamist militant group led by Sudahi Sandono in East Timor, is receiving support from the United States in the form of training in their fight against Indonesian guerrilla militias. Sadano is CIA trained and considered a charismatic leader. The game starts off when you have to rescue your friend and ally Douglas Shetland. There is also a larger story in that an unknown drug known as ND133 makes a huge impact on the game’s story, and later becomes the focal point for the final chapter. The ND133 is a compact version of the smallpox virus, which of course if released, could spell deadly consequences.

You are once again put in the shoes of Sam Fisher (voiced by Michael Ironside) and assisted throughout the various missions in the game by Irving Lambert, Anna Grimsdottir, and a new character, Brunton.

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Jungle missions? Hell yes

The game was developed by Ubisoft Shanghai, while the first game was originally developed by Ubisoft’s Montreal team. However, Ubisoft does a great job of staying true to the game’s dark atmosphere and pacing in its story mode.

There are a lot of new changes that made progressing with stealth a lot easier this time around. For instance,  you can now perform a whistle with “LB”, which distracts the character and can help you get them away from any action. Health kits are now mounted on walls instead of spread around the levels as individual kits.

Your arsenal of gadgets and weapons stays pretty much the same, I didn’t notice any changes in that aspect. However, there were still some gadgets I found myself never getting around to using, including the Sticky Camera and the Ring Airfold Round, but that’s just me. Of course, my ever favorite Diversion Camera came back, and it helped me out of quite a few jams.

I really liked a lot of the missions this time around. I felt there was a lot more diverse locales that we were given the chance to explore, much like the first game, but this time, we got to head outdoors into the jungle for the first time, and act as stealthy as the cover art depicts.

The final level, however, was a bit irritating, and at times, it was never explained clear enough what to do in the mission and I found myself getting stuck multiple times and looking at playthroughs online. If you are as dull as a lightbulb like I am when it comes to stealth games, you’ll be pulling your hair.

Use stealth, remember? From the first game. I'll let you finish now.

Use stealth, remember? From the first game. I’ll let you finish now.

Regardless, I don’t think that detracts from the overall experience. However, as much as I enjoyed Pandora Tomorrow, I still have to lay all my chips down on the first Splinter Cell. I think to date, it’s done stealth action perfectly, and it was far more challenging than this game was. I admit, I was still faced with challenge in Pandora Tomorrow, but nothing to the level the first game put me through.

To add to my thought, with some of the changes put in place, some aspects of the game do become much easier. Those include the mounted wall health kits and the whistling. And in some cases, you will find yourself running into twice as much ammunition as you can carry. In every mission, I found ammo I didn’t even need, and even if I were to run out of my pistol, that wouldn’t matter as long as I could whistle for distraction, lure an enemy into darkness, and knock him out – rinse and repeat.

But first-time players, I’d definitely suggest starting with the original Splinter Cell before this one. Pandora Tomorrow is still worth the buy though, don’t get me wrong. Newcomers will find it a challenge because it’s not your typical run-and-gun scenario, there’s thinking involved. Are you sure you can handle that?

Final Score: 8 out of 10

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