With a less than impressive launch line-up for Nintendo’s new 3DS handheld, it’s difficult to recommend a single game anyone could consider a stellar title. The third parties reigned supreme on March 25th with some un-supreme games thanks to the glaringly shocking lack of good ol’ Mario. Fortunately, it wasn’t all bad news, Super Street Fighter IV showed off what the 3DS could do visually, and its wireless features showcased the underlying trinkets of the handheld’s capabilities. However, a lot of the other titles possessed no lasting appeal thanks to being regurgitated classics or ports. Speaking of ports, up rolls Splinter Cell 3D, a bare-bones port of arguably the best of the “old breed” of Splinter Cell titles: Chaos Theory.
Don’t get excited folks, what we have here is a run-of-the-mill cash-in port. Ubisoft, hoping to make the most of the new consoles debut, have taken a 2005 classic, slapped on a 3D sticker and excreted this lazy port onto the shelves of retailers before the deadline. Granted, it’s nice to see a more mature title surface from the launch, but this just stinks of wasted potential. The original Chaos Theory campaign is present and relatively untouched apart from a few minor map changes, and Sam’s arsenal of sneaky stealthmoves and silenced weapons make a welcome return as the bane of every mercenary’s existence. Sam Fisher? Still as stubbly and tough as ever.
So, what’s been sacrificed? Quite a lot unfortunately. We know what to expect when a big console title is released on a handheld with one analogue stick, so I won’t complain too much about this because it’s been said before. The analogue stick moves Sam around nice and smoothly, while the four face buttons are used for looking and aiming. Sure, it’s about as accurate as a drunken, one eyed, armless Wild West duel… between horses, but that’s not the point. Sam is a mega awesome sneaky man. This means you should manoeuvre him around his enemies instead of confronting them head on in a fire fight. This type of gameplay was fresh and fun on consoles in 2005 but its definitely lost its edge on the 3DS. The enemy AI has also suffered, as Sam can basically headshot his way to the campaign climax against mercenaries who appear to be literally blind.
Visually, it looks quite nice for a handheld title. For those who remember, Chaos Theory was also ported to the original DS. While it doesn’t compare visually to its newest iteration, it at least had wireless features. Something Ubisoft decided to completely abandon this time around on a handheld with incredibly strong online abilities (why?!). Regardless, Splinter Cell 3D more resembles the PS2 version, minus the obvious polish in detail.
Unfortunately, the only 3DS feature this game exploits is *spoiler* the 3D effects. Having said that, it’s actually employed rather effectively as, unlike other titles, it doesn’t rot your brain after a few hours play time. This means you can play Splinter Cell for hours without needing a break, but only if you find it good enough to be worth said hours.
There isn’t much left to say here. The franchise has been around long enough for gamers to have made a decision as to whether or not they fancy Sam’s sneaky exploits, but what I can say is this; if you’ve never played a Splinter Cell game, please, please don’t start with this. Save your money for the HD collection on PS3, or buy something different altogether, because this is definitely not a full price original game. Potentially great, ultimately poor.
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