Hankering for a stealth-action franchise but not in the mood to hear two people grouse about existentialism on the back of a snowmobile? Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is arguably your best option. Laden with real-world, high-tech gadgetry and "it could happen" global conflicts setting the stage, Splinter Cell has carved out its own path in the genre, admirably competing neck and snapped neck with Solid Snake's exploits.
Ubisoft has rereleased the first three games in the series with an HD upgrade in the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Trilogy for PlayStation 3. The trilogy is available both as a retail package that offers all three games on one Blu-ray disc or as a downloadable PSN bundle, both with added support for trophies.
Instead of focusing on each individual game in the franchise, this review will deal with the collection as a whole, what it offers to fans of the series, and most importantly, what it doesn't.
As soon as you pop the disc in your system, you must perform a mandatory 5.5 GB install onto your hard drive. Sit tight, grab an icy cold beverage and surf The Game Reviews Wiki; this will take around twenty minutes or so.
The HD presentations of each game make up the real meat and potatoes of the Trilogy's updates. All three games are presented in 1080p (although Chaos Theory does require some XMB finagling to get it to display in 1080p instead of 720p).
Unfortunately, aside from simply upping the resolution, the conversion team didn't do much to update the games at all. The first Splinter Cell and Pandora Tomorrow haven't aged very well, and what were once phenomenal lighting effects appear pretty poor by today's standards. While that may be forgivable at the onset, the framerate stutters consistently throughout the first two games. All in all, it doesn't look like anyone cared to add extra oomph to the visual presentation.
While the original game and Pandora Tomorrow look like a murky, choppy mess, Chaos Theory actually looks pretty good. The framerate remains solid in this port, and the lighting effects still hold up, making this the technical standout of the pack.
However, even though Chaos Theory is far and away the best of the bunch graphically, the game commits a fatal sin – the complete lack of multiplayer. Same goes for Pandora Tomorrow, which originally offered up a competitive multiplayer mode that pitted stealth players against well-armed mercenaries, while Chaos Theory featured a spin on the aforementioned mode as well as a set of great co-op stealth missions. Tragically, neither game offers what made them so unique in the first place.
In place of a really compelling multiplayer element, we get 3D support. While the effect looks cool at times (notably when you have your night-vision goggles activated), the framerate takes even more of a dive when activated. Any benefits that 3D may offer become negated when the on-screen action gets too jittery, so even if you have the setup to take advantage of this added perk, I suspect most players will turn it off before too long.
By offering some solid graphical upgrades to bring the collection up to par with the current gen a la Halo Anniversary, Ubisoft could’ve offered Splinter Cell fans a great look at the series’ roots. Unfortunately, we’ve instead been treated to a slapdash production with lousy visuals and no multiplayer.