I have something to admit, I wasn't expecting much from this game. It was Ubisoft and my doubt was not coming from there; it was always going to be a highly polished game, the fear was whether after three games in a short period they could keep up the superb gameplay that had a small blip during Pandora Tomorrow. However Splinter Cell Chaos Theory is one of those games that can be hyped as much as anyone want, and it still manages to impress with the small details Ubisoft has put into the game. The fact is Chaos Theory is the best SC game yet and a must own game for Xbox users.
Sam Fisher is back once again as the super spy everyone has come to love over the three titles. This is his finest hour thus far however with a storyline that engrosses you and has twists and turns to the very end. The world is close to war once again and Sam has to gather data to stop the war. It sounds cliche considering the first two games were somewhat the same, but it's how Ubisoft have presented the story this time that makes it worth playing. Strong storyline, detailed cut scenes and Sam is as cynical as ever. In many ways the game is much deeper than the some of its parts, with some comments definitely from the deep and meaningful category.
The game is again played from the third person perspective and for most of the time Sam is pretty much the same super soldier he always was. However where the game has changed is the realism factor. This may sound silly but making the game more realistic has made the game easier to complete - for instance if you accidentally take out a soldier who is used with a retinal scanner, you can now hack it rather than being stuck. The game is much easier than the first two in terms of primary objectives but this leads to another area of change, the objectives.
They are split into four categories; primary, secondary; opportunity and bonus objectives. Bonus objectives are not displayed and must be found in each level while the others are shown in the PDA. Primary objectives must be completed, secondary are optional but add back story to the game and improve the spy ranking while opportunity is more a case of Lambert discovering something Sam can do on the ground which they had not planned. The more you do the better your spy ranking which doesn't really affect the game. Objectives are quite varied this time around as well but pretty much remain the same from the past game other than storyline specific objectives. There is a map to help you find the objectives but we found this to be more of a hindrance then something useful most of the time.
Aside from the single player game, Ubisoft has also again gone all out on a multiplayer mode adding co-operative for the first time to the franchise. Returning from Pandora Tomorrow is the adversarial mode but it has undergone some major changes to make it, in our opinion, a lot more interesting. Spies not only use modems and hack this time around. Tasks include placing bombs, stealing hard disks, hacking computers and other tasks. The mercenaries tasks remain the same as does the technology for both teams but it does seem a lot more balanced and fair this time around. The co-operative mode takes you through a unique campaign which ties into the single player with some 'trainee' Splinter Cells. The game is different to single player in that team work must be used to progress. You can't move while disabling cameras for instance.
One area where Chaos Theory shines is the level design and the levels that feature. Gone are the drab boring levels from Pandora, in are some fantastic new levels such as a Russian Boat, a security corporation and others. There are ten in the game overall but in a disappointment it will only take about 7-8 hours to complete if you choose do only focus on the primary objectives. The visuals of the game are stunning to say the least. Sam has had his animation movements completely overhauled and now features a much grittier, young look. The levels are highly detailed and there is much more you can 'turn off' now than lights. Candles for instance can be blown out. Sam also has a wider variety of moves to take out enemies such as a kick to the spine, a choker hold and a neck break now part of his arsenal. The music adds even more to the atmosphere with Tobin obviously very much in tune with the SC franchise due to the compositions he has chosen to include.
Splinter Cell Chaos Theory is by far the best of the three games and really, if you liked either of the first two games, you owe it to yourself to pick this up. Sam has been reinvigorated by Ubisoft and while there may have been a fear he was getting a bit old, Ubisoft has given him a fresh new look and new moveset as well as new tasks to complete to keep the game fresh throughout. If you want a game that you can finish and play over again, then this is it; throw in the multiplayer and you have one of the best packages for the Xbox to date.