Overall Rating: 8.9
The addition of multiplayer does not compensate for a short single player campaign.
Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow is an impressive game. The sequel to the best selling original, Splinter Cell, Pandora Tomorrow picks up where it left off by offering a great action stealth experience that will draw you in like no other game out there. The first Splinter Cell is such a wonderful game that prior to playing Pandora Tomorrow (PT) I didn't quite know what I could expect to be improved upon, aside from the obvious upgrades in graphics, character modeling, voice acting (Dennis Haysbert joins the cast...President Palmer on "24"), and environments. Now that I have played the game a few times it is easy to see that PT is one heck of an awesome sequel, although it is too short.
The game is simply more polished and fleshed out than the original and that's a huge compliment. PT fits like a glove. Everything from controlling Sam, our hero, to interacting with the HUD is second-nature, especially for those of you who played the original.
Tiny annoyances like odd jumping mechanics and less-than-informative descriptions as to why alarms went off have been fixed. Jumping now has logic behind it and when an alarm goes off it's much easier to see why. Also, alarms reset in PT, unlike the original. Say that you set off 2 out of 3 permitted alarms so far on a level. If you stay out of trouble for a while and reach a certain point the alarm will reset and you'll be back to zero. A nice feature, if you ask me.
The level of the alarm determines what gear your enemies don. For example, after the first alarm you set off they will put on flak jackets. Set off a second alarm and they'll protect their noggins with helmets, making them all the harder to kill, if necessary. Of course, there are many levels that don't allow any mistakes whatsoever meaning you can't set off any alarms.
The core of Pandora Tomorrow is pure blooded Splinter Cell. Stealth is your best friend and patience is a virtue. For those of you who want a Max Payne shoot-em-up button masher, this is not your game. There are several levels that can take an hour. In fact, it took me an hour and a half to get through Jerusalem the first time. Why so long? Because when you can't be seen once by any of the copious guards and can't use any deadly force you have to be quiet and patient; lots of crouching, shooting out light bulbs, and learning guards' patterns. Did I mention shooting out light bulbs? Yes I did. Much more so than the original, PT's environments are designed so that you can shoot out strategic light fixtures as you go along. Of course, the popping of the glass may get the attention of a guard. A calculated risk.
This is a thinking gamer's stealth action game. Where games like Metal Gear Solid 2 or the recent James Bonds allow you leniance when you are spotted by a guard, in that you can either shoot them all or just hide for a while, PT is not so forgiving. You will get frustrated playing this game. It will take you many attempts to get by the same set of guards and there are multiple ways to do so.
The only complaint that I have is that it is too short. Allison and I, taking our time, finished it in two days. When we replayed it while writing the
walkthrough, it only took us a day and a half. Ubisoft claims there are 17 single player missions but to the average gamer, there would only seem to be eight. Sure, within those eight levels there are some "sub-levels" if you will, but let's not split hairs here. I say there are eight single player levels and although a few of them are quite long, I was expecting more. I guess you can't be too greedy with a great game, though.
Perhaps the designers felt that since they gave us such a great multiplayer game they didn't need to make the single player campaign any longer. I don't know. Granted the multiplayer is awesome (to read more about multiplayer, check out the introduction in our walkthrough) but it's not awesome enough to compensate for the lack of length in the single player campaign. This is especially true if you don't like multiplayer games or don't have XboxLIVE, even though the first 650,000 copies of PT come with at least 2 free months.
This game is a great rental if you don't care about the multiplayer. It is a must buy if you do.
PS: Our gamertag is LUNABEAN.