Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory DS Review

The DS has niche games captured. No other console will end up pulling off some of the software this console will. In their effort to be unique, Nintendo didn't make the console readily available to some of console gaming's biggest names, Splinter Cell included. While fans love the series for its deep involving gameplay, the DS is not the console that should feature this style of play.

Simply put, this game needs to be dumbed down. As absurd as it may sound, this could be a capable port if it borrowed from the Game Boy Advance and cell phone versions of the game instead of the Xbox. The controls were simple, the gameplay was 2-D, but it was still pure Splinter Cell. On the Xbox, player controlled Sam Fisher had the advantage with countless moves and utilities.

To use them on the DS, it's a rough, convoluted control scheme involving the touch screen and face buttons. In a situation where you're forced to use them together, you'll die. Targeting is the biggest problem, aiming the touch screen, firing with the buttons, and moving with the d-pad. Just like the console versions, Fisher takes up quite a bit of screen space, and trying to just see your enemy is difficult.

Of course, all they do is walk around in a pre-determined pattern, usually a loose circle. They sport little of the AI the series has become famous for, as the ugly graphics engine alone has enough trouble rendering things smoothly. Using night vision or thermal goggles sends the game into a frame fit, rendering the game unplayable in these two vision modes.

The camera is probably the second biggest deterring factor, never keeping up and rarely being in position to make the right move. Attempting to maneuver around boxes (or worse, up them) is brutally difficult. You'll likely need to stop, adjust the camera with the touch screen, and then make your move. Since the game is paced as it is, it's not terribly out of place, but that doesn't excuse not making these levels fit the console better.

The lack of an analog stick means Fisher can only run or crawl. There's no sneaking up on someone by walking likely. You'll need to do that in a crouch. That also means just maneuvering Sam out of corner is unnecessarily confusing. This can be blamed on the camera and the controls combined.

The extended missions on the DS randomly save at certain points for some added portability, yet there's no indication of when you'll be near a spot. These extended missions closely mimic the home version of the title, though voices have been cut (almost entirely) and the music becomes monotonous. It's high quality and perfect accompanying music, there's just not enough of it to cover an entire mission.

It's hard to understand why this game even exists, especially for as poorly as it turned out. This is one for either the most die-hard Splinter Cell fanatics, or those with enough patience to continually fiddle with their controls. The core of the franchise is here; the problem is it's on a console that simply wasn't made for it.

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