New information from E3 will leave many looking forward to this one very disappointed.
Pandora Tomorrow was on the show floor among Nintendo's lineup of third-party titles. Only one demo level was available to us, wherein Sam needed in infiltrate an embassy in pitch-black conditions. Since virtually the entire level was completely dark, it was a bit hard to see what exactly the game looks like, but what little light we were able to get on Sam showed him off to be looking really good.
The big news here, however, is that all multiplayer elements have been completely removed from the GameCube version of the game, including any splitscreen option that might have been added as a substitute. Ubi Soft cites Nintendo's lack of broadband support for why it was decided that the feature not be included. In place of the multiplayer, Ubi is adding in three additional levels prior to the final one, adding in additional graphical effects, such as more realistic water, and otherwise trying to fill in the huge hole that the lack of any multiplayer mode left behind.
Even with basically half of the game removed from the GC version, Ubi Soft still plans to release Pandora Tomorrow at the full MSRP of $49.99 on July 1.
Last updated: 03/04/2004
This morning at the DICE Summit in Las Vegas, Ubisoft gave Planet GameCube
a look at Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. While there's still no
solid information on when the GameCube version will be released, we did get a
quick look at the Xbox version, which comes out later this month.
Pandora Tomorrow takes place in 2006, and Sam Fisher is investigating a new
worldwide terror network, headed by an Indonesian guerilla leader.
Ubisoft's Shanghai Studio used player feedback to focus in on improving
several aspects of the game. Sam's character is developed more, and the story
has been streamlined so it shouldn't be quite as hard to follow as in the first
game, where many players were known to just skim past the story and go
straight to the missions. Representatives also remarked that special attention
was given to the pacing to give players more breaks between really stressful
Ubisoft has also tried to find ways to give the player more choices, as many
stealth games tend to be very linear. They showed a train level which can be
completed multiple ways. You can go through the cars, creep across the roof of the
train, climb under the train, and at times, even hang from the side of the train.
Each direction requires a different strategy. Climbing around under the train will
have you using your worm camera to look through trap doors before going into
rooms. Hanging from the side of the train is necessary at times, but it requires
tricky timing. You'll be passing over windows, which means not only avoiding
being spotted by passengers looking directly out, but also timing your
movements so that you're not in front of a window when the train passes a street
light, since your shadow will also alert the guards.
Sam has a few more moves at his disposal now, and his previous gadgets have
been upgraded and put to better use as well. On the train, you'll be looking for a
man with a prosthetic leg, which you'll be able to spot by using the infrared setting on
your goggles. Sam can now perform a half split-jump and climb up from there to
reach a higher ledge, and whistling will distract guards and call them to your
location, where it may be easier to take them out.
We didn't get to see much of the enemy AI Ubisoft has been touting, but if you
start setting off alarms, the guards will start suiting up in body armor, and they'll get
more vigilant in their patrols.
Ubisoft also gave us a look at the online portion of the game, which is very
impressive, featuring teams of spies trying to sneak past teams of guards. The
spy teams play much like the single player mode, but they have more agility and can
only use non-lethal attacks. And since there are multiple spies, one can distract
a guard while the other immobilizes him. The guard teams play from a first-person perspective and have big guns to take spies out of the game
permanently. Online Splinter Cell is certainly a fresh concept, but unfortunately,
online play still hasn't been confirmed for GameCube. Since the GC's current
online library consists of two PSO games and there isn't any hardware or
structure set up for the unique voice interactions intended for this mode, chances are high that online play will not be featured in the GameCube version. This
possibility, paired with the still unannounced release date, will likely have many
Nintendo fans rightfully looking to Xbox and PC to get a Splinter Cell fix.