I originally wrote a review several years ago when I purchased this game for the Xbox 360. I had forgotten about the review and stumbled upon it again and decided to update and upgrade my review since I am now playing it on the Playstation 3.
First, after my Xbox broke for the 8th time or so, I begrudgenly decided to purchase a PS3 and to buy this game, again. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the online gameplay is LEAGUES better on the PS3 versus the Xbox. Graphics are essentially the same. This review is geared solely toward the MULTIPLAYER game mode, since that is clearly the area where this game excels. Here are the pros and cons of the game broken down for you:
1) Sometimes (not often) the game will freeze your PS3 (however, it frequently froze the Xbox);
2) there are not as many parameters for the host to change, as was the case with Splinter Cell 3: Chaos Theory, such as time of the game, available weapons, etc.); and
3) there haven't been any releases of new maps since, approximately, the game was released.
1) Absolute heart-pounding action;
2) addictive gameplay that is not (so far) replicated by any other game;
3) six-players can enter a game (it used to be only four with prior installments); and
4) there are not as many parameters for the host to change (yes...this was listed as a "con," but I also feel its a "pro" since this levels out the playing field).
For those of you that are not familiar with this franchise, here is an explanation of the multiplayer gameplay:
To download two files from any combination of four terminals located on each map and then return the files to your base. Each game is 20 minutes.
To prevent the spies from downloading and returning the two files to their base.
BASIC INFORMATION (SPIES):
There are up to three spies that can play. Each spy has four lives. As you progress in experience points, you can unlock different suits for the spy. The most advanced male suit covers you entirely in black, thereby providing you with more cover in the shadows. The spies are acrobatic by nature and rely on stealth and hiding the shadows. The player controls the spy in 3rd person view. Spies can climb into ventilation systems, jump into ceilings. There are lights in every map that can be "hacked" (i.e., turned off) by the spies, providing additional coverage. A file can be downloaded by a spy when the spy is in close proximity to a terminal and, the closer the spy is to the terminal, the faster the download of the file. Spies can equip one of four available gadgets, which can be swapped out and refilled at any time in a weapons chest located in the spy base.
The gadgets are these:
1) Smoke Grenades: you have three smoke grenades that you can throw down. These cause the mercenaries to slow down and have difficulty moving, but they do not provide much cover.
2) Flash Grenade: Probably the most effective gadget, you have three of them to throw down and blind the mercenaries for several seconds, allowing you to escape or attempt a kill or disabling maneuver (explained more later).
3) Syringes: you have three of them to heal yourself or other spies in the event of injury.
4) Jammers: you have three of these to throw down...these little devices are, essentially, spy decoys since they sound like a spy and show up on the mercenaries' HUD as if a spy was there.
You can kill a mercenary in one of three ways:
1) go behind them and snap their neck;
2) jump on them twice or
3) pull them over a railing.
Spies also have two special types of vision modes to help them with their tough objectives:
1) night vision mode, to help them see in the dark and
2) heat vision mode, to help them see the mercenaries by sensing body heat.
BASIC INFORMATION (MERCENARIES):
Mercenaries have four lives and up to three mercenaries can play. Unlike the spies, mercenaries are played from a first-person point of view, which restricts your field of vision (a good thing for the spies!). Mercenaries are about raw firepower, being equipped with only three weapons: unlimited ammunition in a automatic machine gun (with scoping capabilities), three grenades that can be refilled at any time in the mercenaries' weapons chest located at the mercenary base and two "drones" that can also be re-supplied at the weapons chest. Drones are attached to the mercenaries' backs. Since mercenaries are NOT acrobatic and cannot jump into ceilings, vents, etc., a drone is critical for the mercenary. Once a drone is activated, the mercenary sees things through the drone, which can be controlled by the mercenary to enter vents, ceilings, etc. At the push of a button by the mercenary and three seconds later, the drone can self-destruct, killing anything within its range...spies AND other mercenaries, so be careful! Also, when a mercenary is "droning," one danger is that a spy can simply come up behind the mercenary and snap a neck, so one needs to be careful about that, too.
One of the biggest assets the mercenaries have is a flashlight attached to the head of the mercenary suit. The flashlight is critical for seeing a spy in the dark. Additionally, the mercenaries have an automatic motion sensor function that creates a white line around a spy that is running and also an "EMF" mode which allows the mercenaries to see a spy that is using a "hacking device." There is also a "pulse" that goes off if a spy is nearby, where the pulse gets louder and quicker the closer the mercenary gets to a spy, aiding the mercenary in finding the little devils. If there are not three players as mercenaries for a given game, "bots" can be selected to fill these spots so computer characters can fill this void...necessary, really, for these maps to have three mercenaries at any given time, particularly if you have an experienced spy. Like the spies, as you increase experience points, you unlock other mercenary suits. The top-level suit covers a mercenary in all black, making a mercenary harder to spot in dark places.
FINAL COMMENTS: I can tell you that there NO OTHER GAME mode causes me to have my hands shake from the heart-pounding action as the spy vs. merc multiplayer (Chaos Theory and Double Agent). When you are a spy, and you are trying to "hack" a terminal, and you see a glimpse of a mercenary's flash light, which means that the mercenary is on his way, the adrenaline rush is unbelievable! This game provides for unlimited hours of thrilling gameplay, as the re-playability of the online multiplayer is excellent. To this day, this is my favorite online game. Highly recommended to anyone who is interested in online gaming, and, if you have both a PS3 and an Xbox and you are interested in only purchasing this game for one system, hands down purchase the PS3 version.