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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.


14 comments so far...
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  1. super yoshifan Friday 25th Mar 2011 at 16:16

    Take a bow Ubisoft ( :!: )

  2. chun-liisgr8init Friday 25th Mar 2011 at 17:11

    ubisoft r crud.

    you watch those crapy imagine games will b released next.

    capcom r cool how about a new viwtiful joe or powerstone game.

    P.S im not buying ghost recon just out of protest 4 such a crap line up from ubi.

  3. jobo Friday 25th Mar 2011 at 19:44

    Damn I actually bought this, It looked Ok in the shop.
    Oh well I got it for Ł20 anyway, So I might just trade it in when I complete it.

  4. zapper01 Friday 25th Mar 2011 at 22:07

    Shame, I thought this would be rather good. Guess the only launch games I'll be getting are Street fighter and pilotwings, possibly Nintendogs.

  5. 27darren Saturday 26th Mar 2011 at 00:49

    I'm truly gutted about this. I played it years back when it came out for xbox and it's certainly my favourite Splinter Cell game. I think the only thing Splinter Cell 3DS will make me do is fire up the old xbox and play through the orignal again.

  6. The_Jon Saturday 26th Mar 2011 at 06:32

    I was really looking forward to this game and when preordering my 3DS there was a toss up between this game and Ridge Racer. Perhaps I'll pick it out of a bargain bin in a few months.

  7. noodle link Saturday 26th Mar 2011 at 11:11

    I knew this would be crap XD

  8. Gordon Ramsey Saturday 26th Mar 2011 at 18:29

    I'm only enjoying it because I'm a massive SC fan and I'm comparing the levels. The controls can be fiddly, but SC isn't really a fast paced game and if you play it like SC is supposed to be played the controls will flow nicely. I just wish Ubisoft put more effort in the game and included accurate touch screen camera control (not like the also fiddly touch screen arrows used in Chaos Theory on the original DS). The lack of multiplayer is a killer, especially when you consider the original DS Chaos Theory had Co-op (2 player) and Competitive multiplayer (4 players) modes, though having added these features it would be obvious the game wouldn't be ready for release. Still, I think ONM are being a bit harsh with the overall score, I'd add 20% onto it if you have tried Splinter Cell before and found it to be atleast OK.

  9. MarioMayhem Saturday 26th Mar 2011 at 20:26

    I completely disagree. It may be the only launch game I have, but I believe that Splinter Cell 3D is the perfect remake of Chaos Theory. For example, you complained about how the camera effects are annoying and need to constantly be changed, but this only adds to the tension in the game. The point is that in these consequences you need to be constantly looking around for threats or objectives. Also, you mentioned the dodgy controls, but I have had no problem with these controls so far. In fact, I think they are very easy to use and very well layed-out so that the player doesn't have to be reaching around the system just to press a few buttons at the same time. To conclude, I believe 49% is way too harsh, and this fantastic remake deserves an 85%. P.S. Keep up the great magazine, I hope to see more on Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D!

  10. noodle link Sunday 27th Mar 2011 at 17:55


    The chances of a new Viewtiful Joe game are very slim, unfortunately.

  11. slangman Monday 28th Mar 2011 at 18:13

    What were people expecting? It's Ubisoft after all. When it comes to Nintendo console all they release is trash.

  12. 06harrisj Wednesday 30th Mar 2011 at 21:28

    I, along with a couple of other people who have commented, feel that this game should have got at least 20%-30% more than it was given; I actually found the touch screen controls to be precise and well organised, and I thought that using the face buttons to aim was perfectly accurate; the only problems I see arising from the controls would be if you were trying to race through the game COD-style, which isn't what this game is about. The only flaws worthy of mentioning in terms of gameplay that I found were the occasionally dull environments and the absolutely awful map. Apart from that, I'm enjoying this game, and I feel that it has been under rated.

  13. mafu1989 Thursday 31st Mar 2011 at 20:06

    Clocked about 4 hours into this game now. Once you get round using the face buttons to rotate the camera and the touch screen to use gadgets, the game is actually pretty good. I agree the score should be abit higher despite no multiplayer. Gameplay is pretty solid and is looks nice in 3D. Shame about the control style but if you stick with it, there's a decent game in there if your looking for a more mature game. Roll on Metal Gear :D

  14. Acidyl Sunday 10th Apr 2011 at 22:30

    I bought this myself. It's not super, but deserves better than this.

    I don't get it why most reviews seem to hammering on the controls and that the touch screen gets used alot, THAT'S WHAT IT'S THERE FOR.

    The controls are what they are for a handheld. Yes, the jump button is totally misplaced and they should have allowed button configuration, but how the camera could have been made better without a second analogue stick, I don't know. (And none of the negative reviews have gone so far as giving suggestions for improvement either)

    What's really bad about it? Graphics look bad, escpecially with all the smaller levels and knowing how the 3DS resident evil games look. Sound seems a bit low, even with the sound all cranked up.

    but otherwise? it's the same splinter cell 3 that got mostly 90% scores as far as levels and story go.

    The 3D effect is minimalistic, but does pop out really well on some scenes.

    I'd say a 65% is a fairer score, maybe even 70% if you like a serious story game and/or stealth games.

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