Sunday Bits

TODAY: Was Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory the best in the original trilogy? Find out why we think it is in this week’s Blast from the Past – Borderlands 3 is finally here, so we’ve put together a little guide to help you get started in Pandora

Blast From The Past

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory was a masterpiece of the original Tom Clancy classic

For me it’s always been Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory that’s managed to capture the very best parts of Ubisoft’s iconic Splinter Cell series as it improved on elements that needed reworking, and kept itself wrapped up in deep state political drama with that same careful diet of tension-breaking humour.

While the 2002 original still holds up today, and 2004’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow improved the formula, it was Chaos Theory in 2005 that seemed to really find Sam Fisher’s full groove. There was a bad guy out there and Fisher, Lambert and Grim are on the case to solve who’s really behind all this escalation in the Asia Pacific. All the crazier down-the-rabbit-hole conspiracies of the latter Splinter Cells haven’t started tearing out the foundations just yet.

”Lambert… Now that I’m holding fifty million bucks… I think we need to talk about that raise again.”

We’re given an objective, we’re told to try and be as quiet as possible, there’s plenty of lights to shoot out, guards to eavesdrop on, ledges to hang from, and all the usual bag of tricks for Fisher to lure in his next victim. You’re like the spider trying to attract the fly, only these flies usually pack automatic weapons, grenades and can call their buddies – yet the odds still aren’t in their favour. How could they be? I can split jump and shoot air-foils!

It’s all the tension of creeping about in the shadows and figuring out which guard you can pick off silently as you whittle down the patrols and sentries. There’s something oddly satisfying about incapacitating a whole enemy lair in Splinter Cell, even when you don’t have to. It’s like you’re not appreciating all the trouble Ubisoft went into designing the levels if you don’t, and then there are all the overheard conversations you’ll miss and computers to snoop on for emails and the occasional hack. Missions tended to have optional objectives too that would help give more backstory and make it feel like you’re really Third Echelon’s most badass burglar.

”Yeah, you must be a ninja. How else could you sneak up and grab me like that?”

It’s the little things in Splinter Cell games like how in a later level there’s a conversation about why the floorboards in a Japanese house make a distinct noise. They talk about how these ‘nightingale floors’ were made to alert guards to ninjas sneaking around centuries past. Fisher is somewhat ninja-like himself, so not only is this a way to warn you of how difficult it can be to sneak around but… what happens if you grab the guard just talking about it? He freaks out – he thinks you’re a ninja and won’t let Fisher get a word in. It was these little moments that always gave it that extra charm.

Chaos Theory also had a good variety of environments to deal with as you worked to uncover the conspiracy that’s driving the United States, Japan, South Korea, China and North Korea towards open conflict. Initially it’s the tried-and-true sneaking about a facility and dimming the lights, but later the stakes increase and you have to work through the war-ravaged streets of Seoul, Korea to help quickly end a major conflict from escalating even further. There are also plenty of twists and turns as you come to realise who’s ultimately responsible and the stakes at play. It’s Sam Fisher at his finest, with Lambert and Grim chatting his ear off.

Where to get Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory today?

This is super easy – no lock picking into Ubisoft headquarters, subduing security guards and planting server backdoors necessary. You can get Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory from Ubisoft through their Uplay store, or through Steam for £8.59. Usually these get heavily discounted in any sale events, but they’re also part of the Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Elite Echelon Edition and the more expensive Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Collection.

Getting Started Guide

Borderlands 3

At long last, Borderlands 3 is finally out! The original Loot Shooter is back, with original developer Gearbox at the helm, and it’s full of mad quests, exciting shoot-outs, thrilling car combat, sick loot, and even multiple planets to explore – in single-player and co-op! But it can be a little daunting for a newcomer. We’re here to get you going on your mission to take down the Calypso Twins, so let’s get started in Borderlands 3!

1. Pick a character – and the way you’re going to play

The first and most vital decision you need to make is which character you’re going to play as for the course of the game – because each character is wildly different. Choose wisely!

  • Amara the Siren is a more hands-on wizard class, with a few useful magic abilities such as being able to hold a single enemy motionless or a circular area attack.
  • Fl4k the Beast Master is a hunter who commands various beasts to join him in battle.
  • Moze the Gunner is a straightforward Soldier class, with the twist that she can summon a mech at any point – which you can control and fight in! A lot of fun in single-player.
  • Zane the Operative is an assassin-type, and while he specializes in long-range combat he is useful because he can equip two Action Skills at a time – such as spawning clones of himself, sending out drones, or dropping a barrier.

2. Practise your powers

Well done, you’ve chosen the character you’ll be stuck with for this entire playthrough of Borderlands 3. Your next job is to get used to those characters, and practice what makes them special. All the characters can use and collect any gun, drive any vehicle, or take on any quest, but it’s their skill trees and powers that make them unique – and they have multiple skill trees with different Action Skill powers for each tree. Practice those powers, try each one at least once, and try and mix them up to see which you like best – because each are useful in different situations, such as single-player or co-op.

3. Pick a car, any car

Not forgetting the Mad Max inspirations behind Borderlands – while you’ll spend a lot of time shooting things with guns on foot, there will also be significant vehicle sections too. You’ll be introduced to the Catch-A-Ride system by Ellie fairly quickly, which will give you a chance to try out your first armed car. You can pick up customizations for vehicles around the maps and with various quests, as well as other vehicles too – so you can make the death car of your dreams. Just make sure you get used to the controls though, they can be awkward if you’ve never played Halo…

4. Compare, contrast, and change weapons

On to weapons, and the most important part about them – getting rid of them! We kid (slightly), but honestly – Borderlands 3 isn’t like Doom, where you’ll only get a handful of guns and you’ll be sticking with them the entire game. Instead, you’ll get new guns every couple of minutes and will have to decide whether a new one’s better than your current one!

There are multiple compare options, either on the inventory screen – select the gun you want to compare, and then move over your other weapons – or on a store screen. Often you’ll have to use your best judgement – better damage or faster reload? – but in general you’ll want to get purple first (Legendary weapons) then work back with blue, green, and don’t bother with white. At the end of the day though – it’s your choice. Just try not to go out with two guns using the same ammo…

5. If a battle’s too tricky, come back later – or bring help

At the end of the day, Borderlands 3 isn’t so much a shooter as it is an open-world RPG – consequently, there are going to be parts that are too high level for your character. If you encounter some enemies, a scenario, location, or quest that is just too tough for you to handle alone, you have a choice: you can either level up and come back later with better weapons, or you can get help online. Remember, Borderlands 3 is really meant to be played in co-op with a group!

6. Explore the worlds

Borderlands 3 is vast, far bigger than previous games in the series – which were entirely based on the desert world of Pandora, whereas this game is spread over multiple planets. In other words, don’t feel compelled to stick rigidly to the story missions. Spread out a bit – there are secrets, side missions, challenges and more hidden around every single corner of the game. Explore, either on your own or with friends (preferably with friends), you won’t regret it! Enjoy Borderlands 3!

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