Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (Xbox, 7.5 hours)

Pandora Tomorrow is probably a better game than the original Splinter Cell. Too bad it’s so short. The whole game can be finished in five hours. This time, it’s a lot more silent takedowns than before. You’re often presented with an open area and given some player choice as far as how you’re going to take down the guards. A Chinese development studio of Ubisoft handled making this one, and it feels very much like an iteration on the previous game’s formula. Though a better game than the original overall, Pandora Tomorrow is too short and ultimately doesn’t change enough about the original game.

The plot revolves around a man named Sadono, a militant Indonesian man tired of the United States interfering in Eastern affairs. Sadono is trying to release smallpox on a massive number of Americans, so obviously he must be stopped. This time, Lambert, your boss at the NSA, is voiced by a different voice actor, which is disappointing. The original voice actor would reprise his role in the sequel to this game, Chaos Theory. I liked the plot in Pandora Tomorrow more than the original Splinter Cell, though it’s rather hokey… like an off-brand James Bond movie.

Perhaps what I like best about Pandora Tomorrow is the locations you travel to. You infiltrate a passenger train, visit the black market in a Middle Eastern city, visit the jungle of Indonesia, and spend time in a marine laboratory. In the original game, you’re basically walking around industrialized parts of Georgia, or inside CIA headquarters, so the added locations make Pandora Tomorrow much more exciting. Also, the quality of the artwork in Pandora Tomorrow is good, though obviously nowhere near what a modern machine can do.

Sam’s abilities are mostly the same with some exceptions. You can now do a split between two nearby walls and then jump to reach higher platforms. Sam can glide across an open doorway to the other side undetected. Medkits are now permanently attached to the wall and not part of your inventory. You now can snipe enemies, and hold down a button to hold your breath to steady your shot. Finally, Sam can open doors when relocating bodies. Otherwise your move-set is identical.

As far as sequels go, this one is very much evolutionary, and not revolutionary. Even then, it can be a pretty boring game. For example, I found myself bored moving the body of an incapacitated guard to an unlikely location. There just aren’t enough changes from the original Splinter Cell to keep it interesting.   It is a very similar sequel developed by a team on almost the exact opposite end of the world, which bought Ubisoft Montreal some time while they worked on Chaos Theory, which is the highlight of the whole series. Don’t expect to be floored by Pandora Tomorrow.

3/5

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