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Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D

Fisher price.

If you're going to port a popular old game onto shiny new hardware, it's a smart idea to make sure said console can do it justice. Case in point - Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, a moody stealth adventure where you guide sneaky old Sam Fisher around as he snaps necks and hacks computers in perpetual darkness.

You don't have to be Miyamoto to know that shoehorning twin-stick action adventures onto one-stick handheld consoles is one of the seven deadly sins of game design. Splinter Cell 3D represents yet another example of this hateful practice in action. What's more, all that intense exasperation and rage will set you back £35. Have we learned nothing from the PSP?

For those who never got around to playing the third Splinter Cell back in spring 2005, it came across as a concerted attempt from Ubi to take the series mainstream. Massive acclaim was garnered as a result.

Gone were all the heinous difficulty spikes which characterised the original. In came one-hit close quarters kills and noticeably forgiving AI. But while it was a much more accessible, less frustrating experience, it wasn't really much of a stealth game any more. You didn't have to patiently hide the bodies, security camera could be dodged with ease and you could more or less headshot your way through large portions of the game.

The same applies to Splinter Cell 3D, but with the added 'fun' that comes from having to adapt to controlling the camera and aiming system with the 3DS's four face buttons. Were this any normal action game, the grizzled Third Echelon agent would be toast in about five seconds as you creakily wrestled the camera and aimed the reticule into position.

Fortunately, for those of a shaky disposition, Splinter Cell 3D features enemies seemingly even more handicapped than you. Once they awake from their torpor, they shamble towards you with all the fury of zombified ketamine addicts.

A single silenced pistol shot to the head is enough to ease them out of the picture, but even if there's another dozy sentry lurking nearby there's rarely anything to fret about. At best, they'll inexorably creep to the spot where their buddy met his fate, or fire a few cursory shots in your general direction.

Steal all the money.

It won't matter, though. Because if you've taken the obvious precaution of shooting the lights out, they probably won't spot you anyway, and they will give up looking after about ten seconds.

When you're not dispensing precision headshots or taking numbnuts down with a single well-placed blow, you can look forward to repeatedly deactivating insultingly straightforward security terminals, hacking computers and picking locks.

If that sounds like a little too much fun for you, you can always increase your inner fury by trying to comprehend your whereabouts via the entirely useless 3D map system.

On the plus side, the game does at least offer an intuitive touch screen interface which makes switching between weapons and gadgets straightforward. Other less frequent manoeuvres, such as the infamous split jump, get mapped onto context-sensitive dpad directions when you need them.

But, for the most part, you can get by just fine with the game's default actions and without having to tie yourself in knots. Whether that says more about the game's rather simplistic brand of stealth-lite than control design is another matter; ideally you should have to use a broader range of moves, but it's telling that the game rarely requires you to bother.

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Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Nintendo 3DS

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Kristan Reed avatar

Kristan Reed


Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.