N-Gage Review: Splinter Cell Chaos Theory

If there's a system no one thought would see a fully 3-D Splinter Cell title, it's the N-Gage. Chaos Theory is a miraculously accurate translation of the same console title, and the control scheme becomes a highlight. Nothing here except for the graphics and sound has been stripped down. It's a more than admirable port, though the frame rate may be enough to turn off players more accustomed to the steadiness of the home versions.

All of lead character Sam Fisher's gadgets are tossed onto this tiny card. Everything is easily accessible through the keypad on the N-Gage. Once past the learning curve and into familiar territory, everything from switching weapons, aiming, and using visual aid feels like it was made from ground up for this setup.

Aiming is done via a combination of the d-pad and four keys. It's not analog control which means accuracy isn't its strongest suit, but it's acceptable given the pacing of the series. Stealth works on the console, even given the limited lighting capabilities. It's easy to spot a dark corner to take cover in, and the lights actually affect the models.

Mission structure is basic for the series veterans. The multiple objectives in each stage present varied challenges. When new ones are issues mid-mission, you will change the way you play these levels. It also adds some replay value since the secondary missions are not required. You'll head back to ensure you've seen everything.

Even more incredible, the co-operative mode is here. It's complete, as is a four player versus mode. If the core missions are becoming frustrating (and they will), this is a great way to unwind while still taking part in some well-crafted action.

Every mode is hindered by the frame rate however. Rarely does it rise above single digits, and the graphics trade off isn't worth it. Yes, the walls and character models look superb, but when you have trouble squeezing through a wide open door, there's a problem. In an open firefight, there's little chance for success. It's barely a problem when shooting from cover, but that's not always the situation, even if you play the game right.

Even with some of the atmosphere lost, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is one of the better N-Gage titles you'll find. Take the training mode to appreciate the intuitiveness of the controls and adjust to the horrid frame rate. Once past that, you'll have a hard time trying to criticize this title when in comparison to other titles on the platform.

(**** out of *****)

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