Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow

released on Mar 23, 2004

Pandora Tomorrow takes place in Indonesia during the spring of 2006, in which the United States has established a military presence in the newly independent country of East Timor to train that country's military forces in their fight against anti-separatist Indonesian guerrilla militias. Foremost among these Indonesian militias is the Darah Dan Doa (Blood and Prayer), led by Suhadi Sadono.

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This game has some of the most inspired level ideas in the entire series--the train, Jerusalem, LAX--but the whole thing is riddled with little issues that bring the whole experience down. Granted, some of that is on the PC port (I was playing with the shadows fix, don't worry) but some of it isn't. Hair-trigger guard AI, occasionally illogical level design, and a half-baked story make the whole thing feel significantly less polished than the original. The story is truly bizarre and the game just kind of ends all of a sudden. I still don't know why it opened with a close-up shot of someone in handcuffs, and the ending made me laugh out loud.
Still! It's very much worth it if you really like Splinter Cell. When it hits, it really hits. And you get to play Chaos Theory afterward!

Pandora Tomorrow...honestly, what a nothing game. Even after finishing it, the events of the plot and the levels themselves escape me. It's like it all went in one ear and out the other, except this isn't some lecture from my high school algebra class.
Lambert has had a change in voice actor for this game, alongside a change of character. He and Sam are no longer cracking jokes at each other all buddy-buddy. In fact, Lambert's serious tone feels downright abrasive against Sam in many cases. There's a new guy on your team whom I cannot begin to remember the name of, he feels like such an afterthought (looked it up, his name's "Brunton"). Sam still keeps his mostly serious, occasionally sarcastic quips. Story is something something Indonesia, something something Smallpox, something something viruses. For some reason I really couldn't give less of a crap.
The game doesn't have any huge setpieces or interesting bits that come to mind. There were like, some frozen brains, a brief infiltration inside a submarine, and a section where you had to stay under a spotlight to prevent a guard with night-vision goggles from seeing you. I mostly remember how when the game asks you to do something highly context-sensitive, you know that section is going to be a real stinker. The alarm limits placed on you are extremely game-y in design, and not in a fun way. Far too much of this game is like playing Metal Gear Solid 2/3 on "European Extreme" difficulty; aka, being spotted is an instant game over. One of the ways the game raises the alert counter feels like it's downright cheating. If you don't bother to hide bodies in darkness, the game performs a rudimentary check as you pass certain points in the level, and raises security by one level. The problem becomes clear if you keep advancing after that happens: it'll keep happening at each subsequent point until your alert count fails the mission. On that note, a ton of the levels in this game take place in broad daylight, which feels weirdly unfitting for a sneaking game. In simpler terms, there are a lot less light sources you can shoot out to negate (unless you could shoot out the sun like a lightbulb this whole time, and I just didn't try to).
This game was made by Ubisoft Shanghai, Splinter Cell's "B-team". In the shadows behind Pandora Tomorrow, Ubisoft Montreal was working hard on Chaos Theory, giving it some extra time in the oven. I feel as though I enjoyed the first Splinter Cell more than this, so the A-team must have an understanding of Splinter Cell that the B-team clearly just couldn't grasp.

messy collection of thoughts
Somewhat better than the original (maybe?). The level design feels less restrictive than what I remember from there, though it's still incredibly rigid and doesn't attempt to hide to it. Guards, cameras, light, shadows, all objects, really, are set up in such an artificial manner that the developers may as well have put a big blinking arrow telling you where to go. It ends up feeling less like sneaking and more like instinctively following the clear path created for you.
I'm not expecting Thief or Hitman levels of openness either, just some interesting bits of level design, Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2 are both fairly linear stealth games and provide more interesting scenarios than anything here. I know Splinter Cell is capable of it too, the last mission shows it. You enter an airport to take down some terrorists, standard stuff, but you suddenly get notified that some are disguised as civilians. Now you're actually challenged by having to stealthily take out specific targets, keeping yourself and their deaths hidden from the real civilians. It's far more exciting than anything the game has done before, and I had a spike in joy before realising this was only happening in the last level.
Mechanics here are fine, mostly the same as the original but with a couple new additions. The gunplay is still terrible, however. "Aiming in" is slow and spread is wide, even reaching beyond the crosshairs at maximum accuracy. Quicksaving before any attempt at shooting a light is practically essential. I still don't understand either why Ubisoft have created an accuracy system that discourages you from playing this like action game, yet there are several forced shooting sequences.
Pandora Tomorrow also has real issues with not utilising its mechanics enough too. Sticky cams and rappelling and shooting upside down from pipes and sneaking through gaps by hugging walls and that weird split jump thing that you can climb from, those are all cool but they're barely used. When they are it's usually because they're the only thing you should do. This makes the existence of the boring level design just that bit more frustrating. The mechanics needed to give it flavour are there, just not implemented enough.

Una buena apuesta en lo referente a los juegos de espionaje y sigilo. Pandora Tomorrow llega a la Game Cube de Nintendo con las mejores gráficas en lo referente a sus múltiples ports entre consolas y con nuevas misiones que solo se pueden encontrar en el pequeño disco del cubo nipón. Es un juego que hace honor a la paciencia y la táctica, implementando mecánicas que no les serán de mucho agrado a los jugadores acostumbrados a disparar en todo momento. Un título muy bien concebido, con un diseño de niveles bastante sorprendente y una historia que logra convencernos. Recomendado para todos, solo es cuestión de probarlo para darse cuenta de su calidad.

this game might be better than the original.
While the original game was some shit about taking down a russ-dictator bent on warcriming the planet , this game has a much more James Bond type of setup thats about stopping armageddon.
You have some great levels here that strike a perfect balance between really pushing you to be stealthy and then a few segments where you can cut lose and use all your gadgets.
Overall much more memorable than the first and with a few improvements that seem really missing when you go back to splinter cell 1.