Tuesday 26 July 2016

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Team Stealth Action (Nokia N-Gage review)

Developer: Gameloft
Publisher: Gameloft
Released: 2003

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Team Stealth Action is a 2D version of the franchise that first appeared on the Xbox in 2002.

It includes nine missions and your job as Sam Fisher is to investigate the disappearance of two government agents. While armed with a Pistol and Gas Grenades, ammo is in limited supply meaning stealth is sometimes the only option; this sees you hiding in the shadows, hanging from ledges, sneaking around CCTV cameras and knocking out enemies from behind. There's also a Sticky Camera mode where you can explore the environment around you and strategically plan your next move. Unfortunately, moving Sam is clunky and many times you'll accidentally double tap the d-pad and start running, usually into fire or an enemy. The controls are also very stiff and feel ever-so-slightly delayed. The smaller width of the N-Gage's LCD doesn't help as enemies frequently spot you despite being off-screen. The level design is mostly uninspired with boring areas that look exactly the same and they give you no freedom to explore or experiment. However, to be fair, things loosen up later in the game as the levels become less rigid and repetitive. The CIA mission is a particular highlight as it discards the weak combat and tasks you with relying on pure stealth to advance; it also has a cool first-person moment where you need to take surveillance pictures from a nearby building. This POV idea continues into the tense final mission where you snipe criminals from a distance and blast down a helicopter before it escapes. There's also some fun Lock Picking and Safe Cracking mini-games scattered throughout the missions where you're against the clock and need to quickly resort to hacking to avoid setting off an alarm.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Team Stealth Action is a great idea but despite the promising move to 2D the gameplay and level design are generally bland. The terrible controls make the action infuriating at times and getting through each mission can be a real chore for what amounts to little reward.
Random trivia: This 2D version was also released on the Game Boy Advance in 2003.

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