In comparison to other spy games, this one’s mechanics are the smoothest. Dynamic camera control is linked to the mouse, so I never had to guess where the next enemy was coming from. Sam’s animations are all fluid and precise, but within the realm of possibility. He can’t run on walls, but rappelling from a cliff isn’t beyond his capability.
There was only one element of the single player campaign that struck me as unrealistic. In almost every mission, you have a “fetch quest” objective. These require you to hunt down x number of crates/phones/computers and bug/tap/hack them. This got annoying fairly quickly, especially when a building is filled with computer terminals, and you have to search them all to find the special five that you have to hack. I don’t see the purpose here, and Chaos Theory loses a few points in this regard.
To the subject of visuals, Chaos Theory again crushes the competition. But, like Sam Fisher himself, you won’t really notice Chaos Theory crushing the competition unless you really look closely. This game isn’t Doom 3, with “OMG amazing graphics in my face” spectacles. It’s the subtle things, like how Sam’s suit gets soaked with rain and really looks wet, or how you can almost feel the texture of a vinyl tent. The lighting and shadow effects, a staple of the Splinter Cell games, have been fine tuned for a serious “wow” factor; the beam from a guard’s flashlight as he gets closer to detecting you will have you sweating with anxiety.
The audio is almost on par with the graphics, and follows the same concept of subtlety. Sound is a big factor in Chaos Theory, and you must be constantly aware how much noise you are making, or what the guards are talking about. Sound effects and voice acting are all believable, and once again Sam’s trademark sense of humor and bitter cynicism come through in his well performed lines. The accompanying music track is a mixture of techno and guitar riffs; it doesn’t blast in your ears but rather mounts almost imperceptibly in tandem with the action. The beat quickens with your pulse as guards search a dark room form your hunched, waiting form. In style with the rest of this game, the music and sound is integrated seamlessly and does its part without trying to steal the show.
So, I have made it clear that the single player experience outperforms anything else on the market. Wonderful. But, what about the multiplayer, you ask? Trust me, you will not be disappointed. If you’ve played Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow, you probably remember how fresh and innovative the “spies vs. mercenaries” mode was. Chaos Theory takes that idea and injects it with a healthy dose of creativity and replay value, pushing it past its original boundaries. The basic scenarios return, with added improvements.
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