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July 15, 2004

Splinter Cell: Pandora Tommorow

I don’t expect you to be very excited about Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, the sequel to the multiplatform hit Splinter Cell. The game sold very well on the Xbox and good on the PS2, but sales seemed to lag on the GameCube despite the exclusive GBA-connectivity features. And while we were too busy with Soul Calibur 2, Prince of Persia and of course Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker to care back then, we now must pay for our apathy. Yes, Pandora Tomorrow is still headed towards all three consoles, but the GameCube version will almost certainly be missing one important feature owners of the other two consoles will be enjoying immensely: Online play.

Wait! Before you roll your eyes and dismiss this preview, know now that this is not another rant about Nintendo’s lack of online support. Rather, it is a wake up call for those who seriously want to see online gaming supported on our favorite console. You see, Ubisoft is seriously considering the possibility of online play for the GameCube version of Pandora Tomorrow, but that possibility becomes slimmer every passing day. And it’s a shame really. This isn’t just a deathmatch version of the single-player game -- Pandora’s online multiplayer is an experience, and If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to touch that experience.



The original Splinter Cell was famous for its clever (and beautiful) use of shadows and lighting. It played an integral part of the stealth factor of the game. And while the prequel features amazing graphics, Pandora Tomorrow absolutely blows the mind. The backgrounds, models and animations are so detailed and well-done that you’ll almost wish that you spent less time lurking in the shadows to catch more glimpses of the beautifully fleshed out forests and cities. Almost…

The gameplay has been given an overhaul with new moves such as the ability to hang upside down from ceiling objects and new gadgets like chaff grenades to disrupt enemy surveillance equipment, so Sam Fisher has even more defenses against the enemy. The entire game just feels more refined and polished than its predecessor does, and that’s a feat on it’s own.

The multiplayer aspect of Pandora Tomorrow is unlike anything we’ve experienced before. I am a firm believer in that consoles are best offline and that the PC is the only platform you need for online gaming, but the multiplayer mode in this game has even my interest caught. Rather than trying to imitate popular online PC games, Pandora Tomorrow branches out where no game has gone before: A multiplayer Stealth-Action game that pits two teams of two against one another, each one taking the roles of either the spies or the mercenaries. The developers have struggled endlessly to make sure both sides are finely balanced, yet play completely differently.

The spies play somewhat like the single-player game -- you employ non-lethal darts, cameras, smoke grenades and special vision goggles. The mercenaries, on the other hand, boast semi and fully automatic machine guns as well as other nasty surprises such as proximity mines and tripwire mines. Spies must use stealth to move about the levels and reach their objective points. Their advantage lies in that they can see without being seen. The mercenaries, meanwhile, don’t give a rat’s ass about subtlety. Wielding powerful weapons and a charging melee attack, the mercenaries are given the task of hunting down both spies and eliminating them before they can complete their objective. The spies are given a third person view, just like the single-player game, while the mercenaries are limited to first person to emulate the guard cone-of-vision seen on such games as Metal Gear Solid.

word on the street

At the Ubisoft development studio in Paris, France, thousands of people have experienced Pandora Tomorrow’s innovative take on multiplayer gaming. The public beta test was mainly for balance issues and feedback to refine the final game before release. The press and public have so far been addicted to the incredibly fun spy-on-merc battles. If these beta tests are any indication, Pandora Tomorrow can ride on its multiplayer side alone.

press release notes

  • The multiplayer games are 2 on 2 only. Ubisoft decided to limit the number of players in each game (despite the fact that the engine could handle many more players) because too many players made the game too hectic; rewarding players less for strategy and more for reflexes.
  • The stories of the single-player and multiplayer games are somehow related in a clever fashion.
  • In single-player, the time of day will actually change, shifting the sun’s overhead position and hence creating new shadows and fading away others. This forces you to keep the time of day in mind when moving through a level.
  • The guards in the single-player game equip themselves with more powerful weapons and armor as your alarm level rises (their awareness of your presence). They also become more cautious and intelligent as the alarm level increases.
  • Sam Fisher boasts an arsenal of new gadgets and moves, but nothing completely revolutionary. The idea was to keep the same basic gameplay but refine it.


While the single-player game looks very promising, the multiplayer is a huge aspect us GameCube users will probably miss out on. Want that to change? Then do something about it. Demand it from Ubisoft. Make noise. If they know we want it they’ll give it to us. And if the GameCube version of Pandora Tomorrow does omit the online aspect, buy it anyway! Ubisoft will know there is a market for adult GameCube games if they’re being bought. It’s not like you’ll be stuck with a crappy game, just a slightly incomplete game.

Staff Avatar Kwan Perng
Staff Profile | Email
"Relax, it's just a game."

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