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Splinter Cell 3D Review

The worst Nintendo 3DS launch game

Splinter Cell 3D review: Splinter Cell is a game in which you play a camera. A camera perpetually locked in orbit around secret agent Sam Fisher as he clumsily stalks the hideouts of some of the world's most dangerous cyber terrorists.

The 3DS face buttons spin you around Sam, the circle pad implores him to move in a given direction, while almost every other action is foisted on to the touchscreen like a tiny dinner tray of selectable parallelograms.

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Splinter Cell 3D's camera is powerfully uncooperative, requiring constant attention to keep it pointed in vaguely useful directions.

Incredibly it's the face buttons, rather than the analogue circle pad, that are used to aim weapons. The lower screen is a packed sardine can of vision modes, weapon selection and context sensitive commands.

Stroll up to a door in Splinter Cell 3D and you're presented with a cavalcade of possible actions, selectable only by cycling through options with one touchscreen button and choosing with another.

Such an overpowering array of choice is a side-effect of this being a shrunken version of a six year old PC game, and Splinter Cell 3D has made too few concessions to allow for the drastically reduced range of inputs available on 3DS.

With both hands required to make use of the faux-dual analogue stick controls, you're left using your right thumb to clumsily navigate these rammed touchscreen menus - practically impossible in the panicked moments immediately after being spotted.

Sam I am

This is the touted "one-touch stealth gameplay", and coupled with a camera that must be controlled as much, if not more, than Sam himself, it obfuscates what is an otherwise enjoyable stealth action adventure.

Locations are varied and interesting, the plot is Clancy-grade po-faced fun, and Michael Ironside voices Sam Fisher with dry, gallows humour. In particular, Fisher's whispered knife-point interrogations of captive guards are brilliantly written and filled with well-timed and irreverent gags.

The tri-focal goggles the series has become known for have had their broad functionality whittled down to, barring binocular-o-vision, a single vision mode. Where once there was electromagnetic vision, thermal vision and night vision, there's now one all-encompassing supervision, casting a shimmering white fuzz over the top screen and illuminating everything from objectives to enemies.

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It's universally helpful in such a dark game, allowing you to get right up next to guards and wrap your biceps around their faces before they even get a whiff of you.

Chaos Theory, the game on which Splinter Cell 3D is based, is regarded as the greatest in the series. It's clear why Ubisoft plucked it from their back catalogue, alongside Rayman, when considering their 3DS launch titles. But a lack of any online options (the original Chaos Theory features a celebrated co-op mode), the horrendously misjudged and uncustomisable controls and a camera that must be looked after like a sick child create such a firm barrier to enjoyment that Splinter Cell 3D becomes difficult to recommend.

Want to see the game in action? Here's a Splinter Cell 3D trailer.

Want to read more 3DS reviews? Here is a list of our Nintendo 3DS launch game reviews.

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