Third outing for Third Echelon
Joint Xbox and PS2 review
It's quite interesting to watch the development of the Splinter Cell series of games, games which I feel have redefined the genre of stealth action along with Thief and of course Metal Gear Solid. Sam Fisher has been in three games now and the franchise is growing and growing, with the third instalment being the one to really up the ante.
When I see the name Tom Clancy I immediately know I am going to be in for one heck of a thrill-ride in regards to the story. It's 2008 and information warfare is the new weapon, the new battlefields are the tech-info highways of the world and things are about to go really bad. Once again though I am not here to spoil the story, let's just say that things unfold in true Clancy style from the moment you're sent into enemy territory.
Every time they make a new SC game they seem to add in a few new moves, mostly acrobatic ones. Not this time, the gameplay of Chaos Theory has been well and truly refined and new features have been implemented across both versions of the game, this being a comparison review we'll get down to the biggest gameplay change on the PS2 compared to the Xbox.
PS2: While the fluidity of the moves remains the same in both versions, the PS2 is given an extra lethal attack move where Sam can leap out of the water and drag an enemy guard in, drowning them, quickly and quietly. There are several key places this can be done and you can't miss the actual spot right at the start of the PS2 version when you enter the caves.
Xbox: Lacking the water attack move has not diminished the Xbox version of the game in the slightest. The main reason for this is that while the PS2 has the water attack, the Xbox levels are more open and allow for more stealth gameplay, this will be discussed later on in the section upon level design.
Core stealth gameplay has been upgraded for Chaos Theory and the controls have been tightened up, you're never unsure of what button does what move and a lot of Sam's actions are context sensitive now, if you move towards a thin gap that Sam can get through he'll put his back to the wall and slide along it, rather than you needing to know what button to press.
When you're pressed to a wall Sam will also move around corners rather than you having to click off and click on again. These kinds of refinements add to the overall gameplay strategy and give you more options when trying to remain invisible.
You now have an ambient noise marker on your HUD that gives you the noise of such things like generators or thunder-storms which can mask your movement if timed right, if your noise meter peaks over the marker then there's a good chance an alert guard will come looking for the source of the sound.
The light meter remains unchanged.
Gone too are the irritating button presses needed to perform the split-jump or the half-split, when Sam's in a hallway or area he can do the move, all you need to do is face the wall and hit the jump button...he's a smart enough cookie to realise what you want to do and do it, rather than just scratching his head.
There's a new look to the lock picking, night vision and Sam's goggles have an updated EMF view function (Allowing him to see electro magnetic fields). The Zoom is there and added to the tri-goggles (EEV) is the ability to remotely access computers and hack computers or door lock panels from afar (This is harder than normal hacking).
Actions that can be attempted on an object appear in the top right of the HUD and you can always choose to return to game, when you're not sure of doing something or you want to change your option.
Doors work in a significantly different way now and you can pick locked ones, break the lock with the knife, open them or open them stealthily. (Slowly peeking through and opening the door with the analogue stick) The final option can be used by sneaky players in conjunction with Sam's EEV (Thermal image allows you to see through thin walls and doors) mode and is called: Bash, no prizes for guessing the effect it has on the poor sucker on the other side.
Doors can be closed and opened when Sam is unburdened or when he's carrying a dead or unconscious guard. So you don't need to drop the body to open and close a door, this is a great addition and those people that played the original first game will love Ubi for it.
Sam can now leap over a railing and hang there waiting for a guard to come along, you can use the 'whistle' move and attract their attention of course but it's risky, some of the guards aren't as stupid as you think they are and they will respond to a trap. But for the hapless mook that gets close enough to the railing, Sam can pitch them over the side and hurl them to their doom, this works wherever there's a suitable fall and a rail to hang from. Experimentation is the key to success.
The inventory has been upgraded and the process for selecting weapons, equipment and special weapons has been significantly improved. It takes no time at all now to switch items with the white button and this has certainly been one of the better additions to the game, there are of course many more.
Ubi have also added a loadout screen prior to the start of the mission, you can listen to briefings and so on, then go to the loadout and choose from the options. This varies the equipment you take into the field and you're given several choices, from Stealth to downright Assault.
Secondary Objectives: Numerous small side missions inside the main missions, listen to your HQ for hints on what you need to do.
This game is packed with a veritable plethora of nice new moves and some old favourites, here's the list of moves in Chaos Theory and remember the PS2 version adds the water attack move to this repertoire.
Crouching: Gives Fisher slower movement and makes him less visible, a good way to remain undetected against a nearby crate or box.
Mantling: The art of climbing up onto crates or tables, the mantling in this version of the game is significantly improved from previous outings and can be used to set up for quiet knockdowns and just general hiding.
Climbing: Sam can climb a pipe or ladder, vertical cable or even a fence. This is a context sensitive move that will trigger when you press into the object in question.
Close Attack: Brand new to Chaos Theory, Sam can now deliver vicious close-quarters moves based on Sam's position when triggering the move, if he's crouched or so on. You can choose between lethal or non-lethal. Keeping the trigger pressed will allow you to pick up the dead or stunned guard without having to select body from the HUD.
New to Chaos Theory is the Combat Knife, explained in the equipment section.
Back to Wall: The Back to Wall move has been upgraded to allow Sam to effortlessly slip around corners now. Gone is the ability to peek out and shoot around with the pistol, this has been removed for some reason and I am not quite sure why.
Shimmying: This remains unchanged from previous games although if a guard comes into contact with Sam as he's shimmying the ledge with a railing above him, the interaction option that allows you to pitch him over the side, should come up.
Hand over Hand: Horizontal pipes give Sam a much needed heads up on his enemies, can be used to cross impassable gaps above their heads either legs up or down or as an ambush point for the:
Inverted Neck Snap: This move has been two games coming but its well worth it, one of the best things about being on a pipe is the option to grab an enemy below you and either knock them out by stranglehold or quickly break their neck.
Zip Line: Sloped wires or zip lines can be used to get to the ground quickly or just cross to an area that might be otherwise too dangerous to go to on foot.
Throwing: The throwing system has been improved and it's now just a case of point and throw, there's a small target cursor and gone are the annoying marker-lines from the previous games.
Rolling: Sam can roll, useful when evading angry guards or just to look classy while running.
Split Jump: It's back again and easier to do, face a wall and press jump, sorted. Just make sure you're in an area or corridor that's high enough and not too wide.
Half Split Jump: Smaller areas and corridors allow for the half split, it's done the same as the full version above.
Drop attack: If you're above an enemy and you land on his head, Sam will either use his hands or the back of his heel to send the guard into la-la land.
Rappelling: Interact with a hook point and rappel away, you can move up or down and kick-off the wall to get down faster.
Rappel shooting: When in a rappel Sam can use his rifle or pistol to shoot, nothing more needs to be said.
Hanging shooting: If on a pipe. When Sam's legs are up he'll swing down and shoot backwards, if his legs are down he'll aim forwards.
Split jump shooting: When in the split jump mode Sam can also equip a weapon and fire.
Switch shoulder: Allows for aiming at any angle, click in the left thumbstick to switch shoulder and perform this trick.
Doors: Stealth, Bash, Lock picking and Break lock are all available with doors, as well as the good old normal open move.
NPC moves: Move a body (Dropping it suddenly with Y or pressing X to whip out your weapon) or grab an enemy from behind and from this move you can choose to knock them out, kill them or if they have information...tease it out of them with the knife. If you come under attack press X and make them into a human shield. Some NPCs will have to be forced to use objects in the game world, for this move them to the object and select forced interaction.
Guns and Gadgets
No spy genre game would be complete without the good old gadgets and guns, Fisher is no James Bond so don't expect a laser watch or other such goodies, expect some nice toys however, this section of the review will detail most of them and what you can expect them to do.
SC-20K: Sam's rifle, equipped with a new attachment system, this lethal firearm is capable of much more than a bog-standard issue rifle. It has an integral scope for precision shots and holding the left trigger will stabilise the gun as Sam takes a breath, reducing sight wobble to nil.
SC-20K attachments: Attachments can be swapped by quickly tapping the white button when holding the rifle and not in inventory mode. Note, the rifle can only have two attachments as defined by the loadout menu.
1. Fore-grip: Provides a stable firing solution for the rifle and eliminates recoil to next-to-nothing.
2. Launcher: This is Sam's multi-purpose specialist weapon launcher that no Third Echelon Op should be without; it can mount the following devices.
• Sticky Shocker: Welcome return of an old favourite, shocking charge when it hits the target, also can conduct through water - be inventive.
• Sticky Camera: Sam's useful surveillance device can be retrieved unless damaged by gunfire or CS gas deployment has occurred. The camera has night vision and thermal modes, it can make a noise to attract/distract enemies and deploy CS gas with a touch of a button. It is possible to switch out of the view and back in again as long as Sam's in proximity to the device. (note: Camera will also discharge CS if it hits a target)
• Gas Grenade: Hydrochloric fumes that knock out enemies not protected by gas masks and env-hazard suits.
• Ring Airfoil: A solid circle of pain that will strike with some force, this can knock enemies over rails and to their deaths - caution is advised.
3. Sniper Attachment: A better scope and high-impact armour penetration allow you to see further and blast through armoured cover/hard targets. This is not advised for Stealth and should only be used if you're looking to make a noise.
4. Shotgun Attachment: There are times when only close impact spread lead will do the job and this semi-auto shotgun is perfect for felling heavy armed guards but it makes a shedload of noise and should be used with caution.
OCP Pistol (Optically Channelled Potentiator): Sam's pistol has been upgraded with a device that allows him to disable computers, cameras, lights and other objects that can be affected for a short period of time. It also spits out lead and has been improved accuracy wise.
EEV (Click right thumbstick): Sam's tri (Electronically Enhanced Vision) goggles can now scan certain objects in the environment; refer to the Chaos Theory manual for the icons and what they mean. It will show up objects or so that can be, OCP affected, hacked, explosive, laser designated and remote accessed.
The EEV has a small zoom ability, you can move around while using it but slower and it has the thermal, emf and night vision modes available as well.
Combat Knife: This all purpose attack weapon and tool can be used to interrogate guards, pierce generator casings and drain fuel, cut wires and slice through soft materials like plastic or tents.
Optical Cable: A welcome old favourite returns and remains unchanged allowing Sam to peek under doors.
There are other equipment choices that you'll come across in the game, like Wall Mines and Grenades but they're always fun to find out how to use by yourself. I am not writing a FAQ here - though parts of this review could be used as so.
Just before we move on to the nuts and bolts of the game Chaos Theory introduces a new gameplay element, hacking, into the mix. Hacking is performed by matching up the numbers to a display on the left hand side, again the manual explains this in detail and the game also has a number of good tutorial videos to explain the finer details of play, narrated by Sam Fisher.
The final thing I want to say and this gives me great pleasure to do so, the game has finally matured and evolved by removing the annoying fact that you have to put every body in a shadow, or an automatic level transition alarm goes off because you left someone's arm hanging out to be noticed by an invisible guard. Because Chaos Theory works on a different system based on guards actively searching if they become suspicious - the game plays much better than both of its previous outings.
As a note: lights can be shot out and thrown objects can break some bulbs too, along with knocking out enemies if you hit them in the head. It's also cool to see that Sam can put out candles he comes across with a soft huff of breath.
Checkpoints, quick saves and normal saves (At long last) are now implemented in the game. Save anywhere on the Xbox version and try and get 100% on all levels.
Graphics, Textures, Lighting
This series of games has always been a reason to own an Xbox or a powerful PC since the graphics push the envelope in so many ways, and Chaos Theory goes several steps further proving the team are a talented bunch indeed. They manage to squeeze a chunk-load of performance into the Xbox version and the quality is simply stunning.
PS2: The graphics in the PS2 version are passable and they look nice, best looking game on the PS2 so far as far as I am concerned. But when you put the two versions side by side you can see where the devs have had to cut back on the graphics quality and the lighting effects - the PS2 is still up there but does not compare with the quality of the Xbox.
Xbox: The clear winner in the arena in this respect is the Xbox due to the fact that the graphics have a lot more depth, textures are sharper and the colour palette is richer - the various quirks between both versions such as the PS2 washed-out night vision compared to the Xbox detailed night vision and the subtler use of lighting on the Xbox really prove to me that the XB version is clearly much better graphically and implements, lighting and shadows, textures and other features with a lot more style and skill.
I do reiterate however that the PS2 version of Chaos Theory is still good looking compared to a lot of other PS2 games.
The hallmark of the series in terms of level design has always been the sense of environmental awareness that you get, even on the earlier versions of the game some of the level areas were massive (the level loads were tedious) and this is where we get into the murky depths of the variances between the PS2 and Xbox again. They even added crawl-spaces and vents for even more ways in and out of level areas.
PS2: I was disappointed with the PS2 version's level design compared to the Xbox; it is not as impressive or as expansive. You have long level load times between sections; the levels are differently designed and built with less detail. There are also fewer areas where Sam can use his inverted neck break (Lighthouse interrogation area) and other acrobatic moves. This seems to have been so that the designers can squeeze every frame out of the PS2 that's possible. Annoyingly a lot of the lights in the PS2 version cannot be shot out.
The Bank PS2: Most annoying level that has been split into level-loaded Hub and outer wing levels, a nightmare since the game requires you to traverse back and forth between locations, several level loads later and I was wishing I was back on the XB version.
Xbox: The true heavy-weight contender in this bout is the Xbox as it hammers the PS2 with a fully expansive non-sectioned level that's loaded in at once. The environments on the Xbox are much nicer and you can see where the team has taken the horsepower of the machine and used it to create areas where you can go to town with stealth options, pipes, fences and ropes.
The Bank Xbox: A sprawling fully designed bank awaits Sam in the Xbox version and you can go anywhere, do anything, several routes are available to keep to the shadows and sneak around virtually undetected. A big winner as far as I am concerned is the no-level load design for the Xbox, please Ubi keep this up!
The level design is definitely far superior both technically and aesthetically in the Xbox version and differs significantly in terms of looks and creation compared to the PS2.
Model design in the Xbox version takes advantage of the machine's horsepower compared to the PS2 and allows for a much better level of detail on the Xbox. The PS2 version models look a little plastic and it's obvious that the detail is lacking on many of the main game enemies and characters.
The Xbox version boasts higher poly-counts and a much better level of detail across every game model and item. The weapons look better and Sam himself looks utterly superb, highly detailed and every piece of kit is visible including the shealth for the knife.
You'll also see reflective surfaces and lenses, like a guard's glasses that distort his eyes a little, this kind of thing really shines on the Xbox.
This remains unchanged across both games and the Chaos Theory animations especially for Sam blend fluidly from motion to motion, he reaches for his knife as he gets closer to an enemy and it gives you a good indication of what he's about to do. The animations in the game in general are stunning and leave a lot of other games gasping for breath in terms of quality, motion and even originality - the inverted neck snap and new hand to hand moves are simply breathtaking.
This level of animation extends to the faces and characters as well, Sam's eyes move and every enemy is lip scynched and detailed as much as Fisher himself motion wise, sweeping the air with a flare or ducking for cover are all fluid and well timed.
Where to begin? Well for a start the PS2 version seems to have a bug in one of the levels (The one with the National Guard) that causes an enemy to become stuck on a wall and remain there, making taking his friend down with stealth downright near-impossible. Not a good start for the PS2 sadly.
Overall though with this minor glitch aside the AI in Splinter Cell reacts as the Xbox version across both versions of the game. Although the AI in the PS2 version seems to be a lot quicker at spotting you in a shadow even at low light levels, which is another irritation.
The AI has numerous reactions depending on their mood, morale and proximity to friendly units. They will now use cover a lot more, toss in grenades and certainly use flanking moves and techniques. If they search an area, be sure you've hidden the body in the right place, if you have left a veritable trail of breadcrumbs behind you. Some of the things guards will do are as follows:
• Search a dark room, switch on a light.
• Panic and light a flare if the lights go off or they hear a noise.
• Go into an active search, kick in doors and shout a lot. (Don't get caught behind a door they're trying to kick in, trust me, it hurts)
• Complain in various cool ways about the situation, while trying to rouse unconscious guards or finding dead bodies.
• Trigger alarms if they think something is wrong.
• Fetch their friends and take you down as team.
• Light blown out candles and various other light sources.
• React to picked locks, hacked panels and broken locks.
• React to lights that are out or broken, coming to check the room.
• React to noises in various ways, if you're using a distract noise from the cam, some guards will scoff and go into hiding. Some will shoot the camera and trigger the CS gas themselves.
The AI doesn't seem to be prone to many stupid moments in the Xbox version compared to the PS2 and it certainly seems to be a lot less accurate in terms of finding you, even in pitch black where you're sure you can't be seen. In short, the PS2 AI cheats at times and can even spot Sam in the pitch black.
In short, the AI in this game is top notch, phenomenal and superbly done. I want to see what they come up with next, best AI in a game so far!
The Xbox takes advantage of the usual state-of-the art sound systems for Chaos Theory and the PS2 keeps up quite nicely in the sound department. Both games feature the best sounds yet with a wide range of ambient, spot and special effects keyed to surfaces, location and character. It's a real meaty BOOM that comes from the shotgun or sniper attachment compared to the standard rifle for example, and the reverb effects in the caverns transform this sound into that akin to a thunder storm.
In short everything sounds great and the game gets top marks in the sound department.
Why oh Why? Did they choose the glaring Amon Tobin for their music compared to the likes of say, Harry Gregson Williams or Jeremy Seoul. I don't like the music in Chaos Theory at all and that's what really lowers the score for me. It's a glaring whine and technological clap-trap which jars into action and doesn't quite subside on the PS2 (You can't turn the music off on that version either). Thankfully the Xbox allows you to shut the racket off and concentrate on playing a stealth game, it really does break the immersion when the thump of Amon's electronic rubbish kicks off and you're trying to pretend you're a Spec Ops Ninja.
No, not high marks for the music at all.
Thankfully Ubi did not make the same mistake as they did with the music, they bring back Michael Ironside to reprise his roll as Sam Fisher and with two games under his belt Michael has finally settled into the voice of the grizzled operative, this being his best performance yet. Alongside Michael are an equally talented cast of major and minor voice actors, creating everything from amusing dialogue and speeches to the usual screams and shouts from the various characters.
Nothing has changed over both versions and it's definitely the best voice work yet in the series.
Good quality CGI rounds out the package and perfectly lip-synched characters using the CG engine are the order of the day, across both versions. No change although the Xbox version does seem to have a better resolution on my TV.
Ok. We shall now delve into the BEST part of the game for me, sadly mired on the PS2 version by the awful load times and sectional loading again. There's a real feeling of comradeship created between the two agents for this mode and I'll just get my comparison out of the way on behalf of the PS2 firstly.
PS2: Sectional level loads and totally different levels make this coop experience an interesting one, but not quite up to the Xbox version's level of design. It didn't feel as good as the Xbox game and sadly I felt as though I'd eaten a chocolate chip cookie, without the chips. It can be played, Split Screen, Link or over PS2 broadband.
Xbox: This is where the big black box once again sends a resounding uppercut to the PS2 and bodyslams the console to the floor. Xbox coop is a seamless level and the levels are massive, some take a good hour or so of cooperative work between players to get through. Playable over: Xbox LIVE, System Link and Split-screen modes.
But rather than talk technical turkey, we'll explore the actual idea behind the cooperative gameplay mode. Hopefully allaying fears of some gamers and so forth, this will really help to also showcase the coop moves system.
You are agent one and two, two new third echelon operatives that must work in the shadows supporting Fisher behind the scenes, there are times during the mission dialogue that you'll hear about the big man and at one point an amusing dialogue between Lambert, Fisher and the agents kicks off that raised a few smiles.
Regardless of all this you begin with a training mission that showcases the way agents are supposed to work together and gives you an idea of things to come. This mission is quite short and sets up the story for the next mission.
There are two types of Co-op moves, contextual and regular Co-op moves. Co-op moves are possible anywhere on the map, but contextual moves require you to be in the right position to perform them and the right location. If you can't do a move, the agent will give an audio and visual cue by speaking and shaking his head, Co-op moves are initiated off the black button in mission Co-op.
Short Scale/Boost: One agent crouches while the other is launched upwards, if there's a wall, the launched agent will be thrown over. If there's a ledge, he'll catch on to it.
Human Ladder: The hanging agent can be used as an impromptu human ladder by the agent beneath them, allowing the first agent to climb up.
Tomoe Nage/Long Jump: A move that throws an agent over a gap or over a laser grid. The agent that's thrown can also knock down enemies this way; the throwing agent can aim where he wants his companion to land.
Dual Rappelling: One player can control the rope and the other can use their weapons, the player in control of the rope can move the rope left or right.
Hang Over Team-mate: The player controlling the cable uses his triggers to move the cable up or down. The player on the cable can duck into cover by pulling his head up to his knees or use a weapon; they can also interact with guards (snapping their necks) and hack objects/access panels.
Stand on Team-mates shoulders: One player climbs on the others shoulders and can use his weapons or plant explosives on a hard to reach target area.
Share View: Disabled in split-screen mode this allows players to share camera views, optical cable and sticky cams.
Heal Team-Mate: Each agent has a recovery phial that can be used once; you have 30 seconds to reach the downed companion and use it. Or they die and that's mission over.
Equipment Share: You can give equipped gadgets to your fellow agent, allowing equipment swaps. All objects that are marked with a dot in the inventory can be shared.
Jammer: The OCP has been fitted to the agent's pistols and can be used in the same way, one small difference is it requires constant aim/trigger to use and will run down fairly quickly - useful for disabling a camera and allowing another agent past.
The Headset can be used to communicate with your partner in LIVE games, but be warned if you speak too loud...it will be heard by nearby guards and they will come looking for you both.
Not using the headset then the game will switch to audio cues if on System Link and enable the alternative comms system. Holding down the left thumb-stick and moving when in certain actions, like rappelling will trigger a command sent to your fellow agent.
When you're playing Split-screen agents will sometimes make random comments based on the move you're doing.
So with all these neat moves and tricks the four main levels of the game's Co-op story can be played with a friend. These might not seem like a lot and I found myself wishing for four more and so on, but for what we do have they really do define Co-op multiplayer like never before.
It truly is impressive when both of you work to solve puzzles and take down guards, while using cooperative stealth based tactics. Both hide either side of an arch and take down a pair of guards with non-lethal or lethal moves. Hang upside down from a pipe while your friend turns out a light and you snap a guards' neck.
I found myself humming Mission Impossible as I lowered a friend down to hack a panel, watching out for any patrolling guards that might just happen by.
The level of immersion and cooperation is unparalleled and there is truly no game out there on any system, like Chaos Theory for this reason.
For those of you that complete Story mode, you'll unlock Elite mode and this adds an extra level of difficulty to the game. Armed with only your knife, rifle and pistol (no ammo for either of those) you and a friend have to scavenge the levels for extra ammunition and so on.
Not content with showing off with their Co-op based gameplay versus four mission based levels, Ubi have brought back the popular Spies Vs Mercenaries gameplay mode and packed it full of Chaos Theory goodness.
The PS2 features the Pandora Tomorrow style of game and the tutorials are an exact copy of that game. So the PS2 owners can get a taste of the gameplay, but once again it's the Xbox that hammers the ground in this round.
The Xbox version boasts better maps, much better gameplay and of course is packed with a plethora of spy gear and equipment.
The Shadownet Spies have a goal and the Argus Mercenaries must stop them, the goals of the Shadownet can be numerous and they are easily identified on the screen.
Again it's teams of 2 V 2 and that's all you need for the stealth based jiggery-pokery on offer here, it really does totally rock when you get a good partner as either Spy or Merc and the game modes are all good ones, even the Deathmatch mode since you can use all of your skills/equipment and Co-op moves in these modes.
Spy moves are the same as Sam's but they get even more cool tricks in Versus mode.
The manual details lots of these moves for both the Spy and the Mercenary and its well worth checking them out if you intend to play the competitive mode a lot. Wall jumping and back to the wall, shooting around corners like in previous SC games are just a few of the spies abilities, while the Mercs can adapt to low light areas and slam spies with their weapons.
Spies can knock out or kill Mercs with a couple of hand to hand moves, right trigger will smack them with an elbow shot or grabbing a Merc with A then hitting A again will break their neck.
There's a lot more that can be done, but I think I'll let you figure that out by yourselves if you get the game, it's a lot of fun though.
Spies and Mercs all get cool toys to play with and some of the highlights are the Spy gun which fires a micro-sticky-shocker which recharges over time and non-lethal grenades.
The Mercs get the lethal option and can choose between a rifle, shotgun and SMG.
Some other highlights are the thermoptic camo for the spies, rendering them invisible in a neat Predator style cloaking device for a limited duration. Just like Predator it can't be used in the rain and will be disabled if moving too fast.
The Mercs get equally cool toys to play with like mines, spy finders, camera browsers and tazers.
The levels in the Xbox version have been designed with interactivity in mind and there are numerous secret ways to make them work to your advantage. You can blow through a vent with a grenade and it might open up a new access route for instance, hack a panel or computer and cause some confusion - the levels are really impressive and are massive, another reason to play this mode.
Spies can also use a range of Co-op moves just like in the proper Co-op mode and this allows them to access higher points in the map, move around with much more freedom and generally make the Mercs life a living hell. The Mercs might have firepower on their side and all sorts of gadgets but the spies can move around the level with a lot more freedom.
Perhaps one day we'll see a Spies Vs Spies mode and that would be insane.
In conclusion, the MP in this game is some of the best action and bang for your buck, with the Co-op modes and the Competitive gameplay, it's got the best range of MP options in any game even the market leaders like Unreal Tournament 2004.
With all its greatness I felt the Co-op Multiplayer lacked in quantity not quality and so the game lost out on a few points for that, 4 missions is really a short number even though they are big ones. I would like to see 4 more from Ubi over Xbox LIVE or released on a magazine cover-disk or something, this mode is one that really needs to be expanded and perfected - for a sequel for certain I would like to see a few more levels added right from the start. Perhaps even a way to play the SP levels with a friend.
The music really honked me off and I hope that Ubi actually pick a subtler score this time around, regardless of their reasons the game lost out on a few points there and the fact I couldn't turn it off on the PS2 really annoyed me.
PS2: Long level load times are annoying
Xbox: Long level load times but once the game's loaded in, that's it for the rest of the mission.
The Xbox version doesn't seem to suffer from many other problems, the SP game is short compared to the original and Pandora Tomorrow, or seems that way. I don't like the segmented PS2 level-system and that really turned me off that version.
Apart from that I can't pick too many faults with this game and it's a massive improvement over the last two games. I hope that Ubi keep to the formula and moves in Chaos Theroy, perhaps re-adding the Swat Turn and corner-shooting from SC and Pandora.
So that's really it, hope you got a good idea of how the game is from all levels of gameplay and graphics, it easily stands shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Half life 2, Far Cry and Doom 3 in terms of looks and style and I look forwards to the next SC game in the series - until then, I am off to sneak around some more with a friend.