Reviews// Splinter Cell: Double Agent Review (Nintendo Wii)

A big question answered

Posted 15 Dec 2006 13:05 by
In a launch line-up sadly lacking quality and hit by what looks to me like a policy of title withholding at Nintendo (I mean, where on earth is WarioWare?) Splinter Cell: Double Agent stands as one of the 'real' games adopters have the option of picking up. Bridging the hardcore and casual gaming gulf with consummate ease, this westernised take on Konami's Metal Gear Solid genre-spawning mega-franchise has been historically well-received by all.

A version using the Wii Remote is more than tempting as the series has always walked the line between offering a satisfying amount of user-input and being, well, a bit annoying and fiddly. I have enjoyed what I've played in the series: the original title and the recent and well-tuned Chaos Theory. It's not in my Top Ten game series, not even close, but I do find enjoyment in stealth games even though I understand that they are, for want of a better phrase, a bit boring.

There is a great and endless debate between proponents of Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid as to which is the best franchise. In my infinite wisdom and role as self-appointed expert on all things gaming, I'll take this opportunity to settle things. Splinter Cell is the best videogame, Metal Gear Solid is the coolest interactive experience - as long as you can get over the rampant homoerotica.

The big “LOL ur Wii is t3h Gayzt!” point holder that other platforms will seize upon is the somewhat shonky graphical representation of Sam Fischer's World of Spying Version 4. Nintendo will tell you graphics don't matter anymore. This is true in some areas of gaming, untrue in others. Splinter Cell lives as an interactive movie and although it isn't short on gaming content, (you're busy a great deal of the time, especially when compared with Metal Gear Solid's at times endless loneliness) it should, and has in the past, offered users a rich immersive and well-detailed play environment.

Double Agent isn't a terrible-looking game by any means. It just lacks the magic I'd hoped for. The lack of attention to detail marks the game as being slightly unpolished. This surprises me as Splinter Cell is in Ubisoft's top tier of franchises, an IP it wholly it owns and has served it well since 2003.

Consistency in the retail build sometimes flops: some glass is reflection-mapped, some is not; some characters but not all of them, can speak without moving their lips.

The graphic engineering is up to the usual standards of the series and as such is very high. There is a craft on show in the game that elevates it greatly from so many other third-person titles available on the market; it's great to see it developed by Ubi's Montreal Studio.

Characters’ hands firmly and believably grasp pipes, railings and other environmental items. There is no fudging and no grey areas with the actual interaction within the game world (however drab it might be). Fischer does tangibly exist in his various spy movie cliché settings.

Aside from ropey textures and the other graphical glitches: SC: DA - some items are too bright, others just don't fit in. It's as though the game was sent for a post-cut paint job, similar to that applied to old black and white movies, and the results are less than ideal. It's not a disaster my any means, just that against so much drabness (Fischer's natural environment) some the palate needed to be toned down, other parts of it enhanced.
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