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March 16, 2003
Splinter Cell - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
27/3/2003UbiSoftUbiSoft China1$99.95

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Yes, the PS2 version has shadows.
Splinter Cell. Without this game the XBox would have had a very lean, and dare I say it, disasterous Christmas. However the game was released, sold over 1.6 million copies worldwide, and scored much critical praise from reviewers. But the exclusivity on the XBox ended with the new year, and while PS2 owners (as well as PC, GBA and Gamecube) are going to have to wait a little longer then originally expected - or should that be hoped - the wait will certainly be worthwhile.

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Sam Fisher in all his glory.
The story for Splinter Cell serves as a nice backdrop to the action. You play the role of Sam Fisher, a member of a sub agency of the (American) National Security Agency call Third Echelon. The Third Echelon deploys Splinter Cells, or highly trained operatives, into various locations around the world in 2004 to uphold American values. In doing this job it is your task to bring stability to the world and prevent World War III. Naturally, if ever captured your existance will be denied by the governments. As you progress the missions are reported in TV styled news network presentations, who naturally get many of the facts, including your own existance, wrong.

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Ewww... spider webs.
Gameplay is very similar to Konami's Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty with much of the action based upon the characters stealth abilities rather then all out action. But sneaking around isn't all you'll be able to do with a wide variety of weapons on offer to dispatch enemies. The primary weapon of choice for Sam is the SC-20K AR rifle, which has a secondary fire mode for gas grenades, cameras etc. Some of the other items that can be used during the missions include a pistol, lock picks, wall mines, chemical flares, frag grenades and Medikits.

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Check out the wonderful lighting.
Playstation 2 owners will also be glad to hear that their version of the game will include a bonus level, bringing the level count up to ten. This new level is a Power Plant which is placed around the middle of the game. The biggest change from the XBox version, however, is the inclusion of cut scenes. Due to Microsoft's insistance that the XBox version be relesaed prior to Christmas many cut scenes were dropped from the title. The great news is that these cut scenes will all be present in the PS2 game. Another niggle with the XBox game was the control system which UbiSoft China (who are developing the PS2 game) are promising will be altered for the better. Time will tell, but early indications are good.

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Using the night vision goggles.
As you can see from the surrounding screenshots Splinter Cell is very impressive to look at. One of the great achievements for the development team is the replication of the lighting and shadows which form an integral part of the gameplay. There are bound to be some drops in detail given the older technology of the Playstation 2, and some people have mentioned the fire effects in the first level, but on the whole the modelling, animation and texturing looks surprisingly close. This will be an interesting title to compare the power of the two systems directly as UbiSoft are going all out to make it the best on each system.

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Who said the PS2 can't do textures?
With a release date now set for March 27th in Australia and the rest of the world there isn't that much longer to wait for Splinter Cell. The game averages a massive 93% from over 50 reviews on the XBox according to Game Rankings, and there is no reason at all to believe this Playstation 2 version won't be as good. In fact, with an improved control system, one (or, as rumoured, possibly two) extra missions it's conceivable that this game may even be better then the XBox version. Start saving for this title now. You know you want it.