Splinter Cell 3D
| Splinter Cell 3D

I'm not normally one of those embarrassingly into-it gamers. I don't contort my whole body in sync with a racing game, or dart and duck behind imaginary cover when playing an engrossing FPS.

But when it comes to stealthy espionage games like Metal Gear or Splinter Cell, I do try to peak around virtual corners to eye-up my prey.

I know I can't see any more of the battlefield than the flat image projected onto my plasma telly. But my primitive reptilian brain just can't figure that out - so I lean and squint and peak and turn, hoping to catch a glimpse of an enemy I can hear without putting gruff, stealth action-hero Sam Fisher in the thick of it.

It doesn't work on my TV. And on the 3DS, it's even worse. The three-dimensional illusion, normally a welcome piece of visual flair that turns grungy corridors into endless tunnels and springs Fisher out of the action like a pop-up book character, shatters.

Two-armed goons turn into four-armed goons, swinging lamps duplicate and potential hiding spots blur. In the most tense moments or frantic shootouts, I usually end up turning the 3D off, or closing one eye, to get the best view.


Is this Splinter Cell's problem, a niggle inherent to the 3DS, or an issue with my eyes? At this early stage in the console's life it's hard to be sure. But whatever the case, if you switch off the 3D this Splinter Cell remake loses its one and only bullet point.

Otherwise, it's a barebones port of Xbox favourite Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory: classic, brutally difficult stealth action from back when Sam Fisher was still snapping necks, turning out lights, and jamming optical cameras under doorways, instead of blasting machine guns, pulling off multiple headshots, and slamming heads into ovens.

It's also slow and methodical, complete with moving bodies, consulting maps, and eagle-eyeing guard patterns.

When it comes to old skool Splinter Cell, it's probably the best of the lot. It has imaginative level design and a huge arsenal of tricks and weapons. The engrossing Clancy yarn that underpins the action will give you the motivation to keep on killing and spying through a lengthy campaign.

Pandora Yesterday

Splinter Cell 3D does a valiant job of porting the experience to the dinky Nintendo handheld, but not without numerous concessions.

With only one analogue stick (used to move Fisher), you're left shoving the camera and aiming weapons with the face buttons, which is slow and imprecise. And that camera just doesn't handle the small screen well: you'll often be staring at blank walls, murky textures, or Sam Fisher's giant back.

The rest of the Xbox controller's buttons, and the huge variety of actions that Sam can perform, are relegated to touchscreen hotspots. Everything is done on this feature-filled ocean of buttons: moving bodies, changing ammo, turning off lights, opening doors, grabbing foes, and throwing grenades, just to name a few.

Some of the most handy, including the guard-luring wolf-whistle, are nestled right in the centre of the screen as a tiny box, smaller than a postage stamp.

It's just fiddly and frustrating - forgivable when skulking about and methodically making your next plan, but maddeningly unreliable in the action.

For example, during the old flashbang-and-throat-slit manoeuvre, I ended up slinging one of the dead goon's body over my shoulder, while the other rubbed his eyes and gunned me down. Not the best time for a control fumble.


There's also no multiplayer of any kind, with Chaos Theory's highly-regarded co-op mode chucked out of Splinter Cell 3D without mention. The only new feature seems to be floating objective text prompts, straight from Splinter Cell Conviction, which are either insultingly obvious ("Stay in the Dark"? Yeah, thanks for that) or obscure your view.

All of these missing features, fumbling controls, and annoying camera issues makes Splinter Cell 3D a hard game to recommend. Which is a shame since Chaos Theory is so highly regarded, and easily the best game in Fisher's terrorist-hunting spy series.

If you have the choice between Splinter Cell 3D and the high-definition Splinter Cell fun pack for PlayStation 3, it's probably best to grab your controller, fire up your massive TV, and enjoy the game in all its glory.

Some hamfisted 3D effects just aren't enough to recommend this inferior, handheld port.

Splinter Cell 3D

Splinter Cell 3D is a great game, ported badly. Some subtle 3D can't make up for controller and camera issues, or glaring missing features