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The original Splinter Cell on Xbox was more or less a showcase for the Microsoft machine, boasting some extremely impressive visuals, whilst also (temporarily) heralding the somewhat erroneous "Only On Xbox" slogan amidst the marketing hype. The game did, however, receive a cross-platform release but, aside from owning an extremely competent PC setup, the Xbox version remained the one to own, thanks to its superior graphical prowess. Well the sequel is now upon us and, again, is debuting on the Xbox - although this time there are no longer any promises of continued exclusivity. Picking up where the original left off, Pandora Tomorrow offers a series of brand new adventures for protagonist Sam Fisher, introduces an assortment of new gameplay features, and also delivers a much-needed multiplayer element.
The game's story is set in the year 2006. US troops have become controversially embroiled in a conflict between East Timor and a band of government-supported Indonesian guerrillas. Guerrilla Militia leader Suhadi Sadono has made himself nearly invulnerable, having planted scattered smallpox carriers around the world, to be released if he dies. When Suhadi's men attack and occupy the US Embassy in Jakarta, taking dozens of civilian and military personnel hostage, the super-sneaky Sam is called in to put an end to the situation.
As you may expect, the game continues in similar fashion to its predecessor, with you taking on the role of Sam Fisher and stealthily taking on a wide range of top-secret missions, amidst an international assortment of shadowy environments. Along with an assortment of improved visual effects, the game introduces a range of new moves and gadgets, giving our Sam an even more diverse array of cool manoeuvres and abilities. As such, you can now jump up from split jumps, hang upside down, shooting from pipes, and perform special forces-style SWAT turns, which apparently make you almost invisible.
The most notable addition to Pandora Tomorrow however has to be the introduction of its multiplayer element. Strongly lacking from the original Splinter Cell and heavily touted from day one of Pandora Tomorrow's development, this new feature now allows you to hook up to Xbox Live and partake in an assortment of team-based games online. It's two-on-two, featuring the default Shadownet Team versus the ARGUS Corporation, and offers a range of different modes, including the likes of Neutralisation, Extraction and Sabotage.
A welcome addition to what's undoubtedly going to become a long running series, Pandora Tomorrow improves upon the original Splinter Cell, delivering an array of all-new adventures, whilst also throwing a few new ingredients into the mix.