Whenever Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell is released, mobile gamers can expect nothing less from Gameloft as Splinter Cell was, is, and in Chaos Theory, continues to be setting the pace for original platform game work on cell phones. Splinter Cell so far has worked for Gameloft because of its attention to detail, good platform gaming design and engaging gameplay. Chaos Theory follows the route taken by its predecessors.
Even a cursory glance at the game suggests an improvement in the Chaos Theory’s graphics department. The lighting effects, crucial to a stealth title, are considerably improved. The characters in the game are much larger. This lets the artists really show their stuff in the animation department. It’s also functional too, letting the developers add a variety of complex moves to Sam Fisher’s arsenal.
The game continues to follow the loose story of its console counterpart taking into account the locales and characters you get to meet. Chaos Theory uses the same formula Gameloft has used before for briefings and mid-mission conversations. Although the quality of the conversations improved over the years, Chaos Theory is still woefully short on the expository side. You can’t listen in on enemy conversations for clues so the dialogue is restricted to giving you mission objectives.
Splinter Cell has always been and love or hate affair for me personally. The demand for absolute stealth is sometimes too much to bear, especially if you just want to sit down and have a quick game after work or school. That’s why whenever I need an espionage game fix, I’ve always found the wireless version to be better since the restrictions are more lax. You can shoot people once you acquire a weapon. You can raise alarms and such. But overall, your life will be much easier if you’re patient enough to find out the patrol patterns of the various guards employed in the game’s levels. The point is, in the console games, you often don’t have a choice period. In the wireless game, Chaos Theory lets you deviate to find your own solution to the obstacle.
The overall difficulty of the game is not very high and a generous tutorial will start you off so even action game novices will be able to find their way around. One of the nice things about Chaos Theory is the absence of memorizing all the moves in Fisher’s arsenal. Most moves are context sensitive so the touch of a button will have Fisher shimmy down a pipe or glide down a rope. Some interesting things the designers have done include adding a second level of depth to the game. You can enter structures to hide from foes and vice versa.
I like the fact that Chaos Theory does not feature a lot of backtracking that other platform games are prone to make players go through. The progression of the game is also logical. There were a few more times in this outing when I went “huh?” and asked myself where I was supposed to go. But those were generally minor annoyances.
Chaos Theory is a great evolutionary product that takes Splinter Cell to the next level. Whether Fisher’s next outing will convince Gameloft to take the game to 3D is a question that many gamers will wonder about. I for one would hope that Gameloft continues this 2D approach. Despite its familiarity, they have this kind of platform gaming honed to a tee.