The Remake You Never Needed
As I work my way through the 3DS catalog, I’m coming to a very distressing conclusion: the 3DS-make is the new Wii-Make. Need evidence? Rayman 3D was nothing more than Rayman 2 with 3D visuals. The most-anticipated title for the 3DS is the 3D remake of Ocarina of Time. And then there’s Splinter Cell 3D. Which is the same game you played nearly a decade ago, just without all the extra features.
At its core, Splinter Cell replicates the single-player experience of the original fairly well. You play as Sam Fisher, before he was saddled with all that emotional baggage, and I have to say that revisiting the original Splinter Cell is certainly refreshing. The story is told with all the same plot points, and even the voiceovers and cutscenes from the original have been ported directly over to this version with little to no discernable differences. If all you want to do is relive Sam Fisher’s earliest adventure, than you’ll have some fun with this title.
However, if you want more than just narrative, Splinter Cell 3D disappoints. Though the controls work surprisingly well (more on that in a minute), the gameplay and the Splinter Cell experience we’ve all come to expect fails magnificently. Let’s start with the core gameplay mechanic: stealth. Splinter Cell is all about doing things as quietly as possible and sticking to the shadows. Splinter Cell 3D throws all that out the window in favor of simplistic AI that can’t see you even when you are standing under a spotlight. And though it is still very satisfying to sneak up behind someone and knife them before they know you’re there, you really don’t have to. Running through the game, guns blazing, is the easiest way to progress, and you never really have to hide, as the enemy is almost never prepared for your attack. Maybe they were in the middle of telling their favorite joke or something. As enemies turn around and stare at you, you’ll have no problem picking them off one by one with relative ease.
What makes the ridiculous AI even more depressing to behold is the fact that the game actively encourages you to employ useless stealth strategies. It’s like the game overcompensates for the AI by giving you constant nagging suggestions so that maybe you’ll play the game the way it was intended and give yourself a challenge so that the game doesn’t have to work to challenge you. However, being a lazy gamer, I’ll just take the simple way out, thank you very much. Challenging me to challenge myself is just bad game design. Just giving me the tools is not enough, when I have no reason to use them.
And it’s not just the need to use stealth that’s missing from Splinter Cell 3D. The game has been stripped of all its extra multiplayer modes, which is even more depressing considering the DS port of Splinter Cell had multiplayer modes, and that was released six years ago! I know the 3DS has plenty of great multiplayer capabilities (see Super Street Fighter IV if you need proof), which makes me wonder just how rushed this title was. The lack of challenging AI coupled with no content beyond the single-player story mode makes this game either rushed out of production or a cheap cash-in. Neither of which is worth your $40.
The only two things that really work well in Splinter Cell 3D are the controls and the 3D visuals. Though I wouldn’t rush out to buy the game because of these two components, they do give me hope that the 3DS will see some decent third-person shooters in the future, as these are both areas where shooters feel flat on the original DS. The controls in particular are quite good, and are surprisingly intuitive. You use the slide pad to move around, and the face buttons to move the camera. Though this method does take some getting used to, once you get the hang of it, it replicates the twin-stick controls of the original fairly well. The shoulder buttons are then used to fire weapons, and if you need to change your weapon or interact with an object (such as a door or health pack) you can use the touch-screen. Of course, the only hiccup here is switching from the buttons to the stylus quickly, but if you can use your weapons strategically and clear a room before you switch weapons or pick up a health pack, you won’t have to fumble around with the stylus during shootouts.
The visuals also look great, and certainly show off the 3DS’ capacity to create almost measurable depth in complex setpieces. Enemies stick out nicely against varied environments, and though nothing really “pops” out of the background, the depth certainly helps shooting feel very precise, and is great for peering around objects in the foreground. Though the game doesn’t have the highly technical visuals that we’ve seen in games like Super Street Fighter IV and Samurai Warriors: Chronicles, it does a good job of mimicking the original’s visuals and sports a fair amount of detail.
Splinter Cell 3D isn’t a bad game, but it certainly is a missed opportunity. The Nintendo 3DS brings a lot to the table besides 3D, but it seems that the people behind Splinter Cell: 3D believe that adding a third dimension to the visuals is the only thing required to make a successful 3DS-make. This is not the case. Though the 3D visuals undeniably add something to the Splinter Cell experience (and it’s nice to have a functional shooter on the 3DS) too much has been stripped away from the core game to make this worth your $40.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
Visuals look nice enough, and 3D effect adds a pleasing amount of depth. 3.8 Control
Controls easily with the slide pad and face buttons controlling movement, and the shoulder buttons responsible for weapon fire. 2.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
If you like the sound from the original Splinter Cell, you’ll like the sound here, as it’s identical. 2.3 Play Value
The game is way too easy, and you’ll never use half of the gameplay mechanics. Add that to the lack of modes beyond the story, and you’ve got a game not worth your $40. 2.6 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best