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May 28, 2007
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
28/3/2007UbisoftUbisoftUbisoft Shanghai, Annecy and Milan12-6
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Graphics in Splinter Cell are very nice.
The first thing gamers should note about the PS3 version of Splinter Cell: Double Agent is that it is quite different to the PS2 version which we reviewed some time ago (and you can check out here). Primarily this next-gen version has a couple of extra levels to play through and includes support for the Sixaxis controller. Naturally, and as expected, the graphics have also been given a major boost with next-generation hardware. Interestingly the game was developed in three Ubisoft studios - not an uncommon practice for the company. Ubisoft Shanghai (China) has handled the single player campaign while Ubisoft Annecy (France) has worked on the multi-player development and Ubisoft Milan (Italy) developed the additional levels for this PS3 release. So how does this stack up as a game in its own right, and against the XBox 360 version? You may be surprised...

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Sam Fisher can swim underwater to reach targets.
The story in Splinter Cell: Double Agent is engrossing to say the least. At the beginning of the game Sam Fisher is placed in jail for six months - this isn't all bad as he is put there to gain the trust of a terrorist organization known as JBA, or John Brown's Army. After escaping from jail Sam must balance his actions with the JBA, and also keep the NSA (America's National Security Agency) happy as well. The story in this game is riveting, and is so much more enjoyable then the 'kill all terrorists' type plot in previous, and similar, games.

In case you are unaware the Splinter Cell series is a first and third person action/stealth title. Indeed it was the first game in this series on the XBox that really showed the gaming public that stealth based titles could be just as riveting, if not more so, then straight out action games. In the games Sam can be moved around with the left analogue stick while the right analogue stick can be used to look around the levels. He is equipped with a series of weapons from pistols to machine guns and grenades to take out enemies when required, but staying to the shadows will allow him to achieve the best results.

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Flame effects are awesome.
One of the key gameplay changes in this title is that Sam now has two gauges which monitor how you are performing for the terrorists, and for the NSA. You must strike a balance and keep both factions happy with your performance. Kill too many criminals and you'll blow your cover and the terrorists will kill millions. By adding this gameplay element Ubisoft have ensured that the stealth elements of the game remain a key gameplay element, rather then just a distraction. The last couple of games in the series allowed gamers to charge in killing everyone in sight without penalty. That's no longer the case. The game also now includes automatically regenerating health to keep the action flowing. The game now also includes multiple endings depending on your actions and performance during the game.

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Sneaking up to the computer!
So what is new in this PS3 version of Splinter Cell: Double Agent you ask? Well the multiplayer mode features an additional new spy character - a 174cm, 20-28 year old female who is just as able to take out the enemies as Sam Fisher. The game also includes two entirely new multi-player maps based on NSA training centre and Kinshasa. Developed at Ubisoft Milan these levels are very well developed and slot in well to this games online modes for up to six players. The developers have also made use of the Sixaxis' tilt mechanism in the controller during the lock picking or controlling flying objects such as a drone. Rather then turn the analogue stick, you can turn the entire controller.

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It's Spider-man, oh wait, not its not!
There are a few problems which we have with this game. Firstly, despite the fact the game copies a chunk of data to the hard drive there are still considerable amounts of loading in the game. It may be between levels for the most part, but it is there, and it does annoy mildly. I also miss the fact that there is no online co-op mode in the game.

Surprisingly it's the graphics that take a hit on the PS3 compared to the XBox 360. Despite running at the same 720p resolution as the XBox 360 version this game suffers with a variable frame rate. This occurs during both the cinematics and while you're playing the game. Fortunately it never reaches the point where things are ruined but having played the near perfect Xbox 360 title, and given the passing of several months I would have expected this title to look better, not worse, then the 360 version.

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On the water near the Statue of Liberty.
But that's the bad news. The good news is that this is certainly the best that Sam Fisher has looked in any game with the next-gen systems allowing the developers to beef up the graphics considerably. Texturing is very good and the three different vision goggles each have benefits - and look spectacular in the process. The games cut scenes tell the story well and have been developed with quite a bit of detail and thought. Another neat feature is that the developers give you the ability to changed both the brightness and contrast in the game - and with our 1080p Samsung LCD we had to tune them a little bit to get the optimal viewing settings as the game is quite dark in places.

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Creeping up behind the enemy...
Audio plays a key role in this series and Splinter Cell: Double Agent yet again provides the goods. Michael Ironside has yet again voiced Sam Fisher and does a decent enough job. Michael McCann has scored the music in the game and it does a wonderful job of alerting you to danger when you've been spotted. Also impressive are the ambient effects, enemies talk, you can whistle to distract them which increases their chatter, while there are plenty of environmental effects.

In our preview of this game we said that 'Splinter Cell should be a fantastic title on the PS3'. The key word there is should. It certainly should have been a brilliant title, but we can't quite award it that status. Splinter Cell: Double Agent is a wonderful title make no mistake about it however having played portions of the XBox 360 version one can't feel slightly underwhelmed by this version. It doesn't quite look as sharp or polished. Having said that if you don't have a 360 this PS3 version is still a great game for fans of the series.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSAnother game which has inferior visuals to other versions. Still, if you only have PS3 it's not terrible.
SOUNDAudio in this game is very immersive with some great ambient effects.
GAMEPLAYSolid single player and multi-player modes with engrossing stealth sections. Splinter Cell is a joy to play.
VALUESeveral bonus maps, Sixaxis and female characters. Still, the XBox 360 version is superior and preferable if you have both systems.
OVERALLSplinter Cell: Double Agent is a very good title that (surprisingly) is technically inferior to the XBox 360 version. Still if you don't have that system this game plays just as well.

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