I've whined incessantly, but it's only because I have so much love for the original. What I said at the start of this review holds true: Chaos Theory was a fantastic game in its day. Returning to the theme of information warfare that defined the original Splinter Cell, Third Echelon's most trusted agent is sent into East Asia to recover an abducted computer programmer. The plot that unfolds around this mission quickly escalates, putting Fisher in the middle of a situation with terrifying ramifications (World War 3, of course).
The boat infiltration and faked bank robbery were both memorable missions back in 2005, and despite the control issues it's clear to see why. Fisher's impressive range of moves and gadgets offer numerous strategies for success, with options for stealth, action or a happy blend of the two. Most levels work on a three-stage alarm system. If you fail to notice that infra-red beam or security camera, an alarm will ring through the air and nearby enemies will flock to your location. A light gauge at the top of the screen shows how well hidden you are, encouraging you to take out sources of light and stick to the shadows. If you're good enough, you won't have to rely on your guns, but Fisher carries a silenced pistol and a SC-20K just in case.
What's also nice is the addition of fancy text-based objectives integrated in the game world, which have been brought over from Splinter Cell: Conviction. There are other additions since the original, too. Hacking computer terminals has also evolved from matching binary codes to solving interactive 3D puzzles. As well as the thermal goggles, Fisher also has Fusion goggles at his disposal, as well as an OCP electronic disabling device, wall mines, and several add-ons to SC-20K rifle.
Perhaps the best thing about the game (other than the fingerprint scanner that replaces the usual 'press start' on the main menu) is the Optical Cable, which can be slid under doors to scout the next area for enemies. In order to manipulate the view from this gadget, you need to tilt the 3DS in the corresponding direction. While most doors can be walked through without too much fuss, I found myself using the gadget anyway just to make use of the tilt sensor. Despite my overall apathy towards the game, it's commendable that Ubisoft has spent the time updating the product with these technologically relevant features.
Sadly, this isn't enough to save the game from mediocrity. Splinter Cell 3D's biggest shortcoming is that it's simply not a game suited to a handheld console. Ultimately it's an awkward game to play. Grin and bear its problems and the nine-mission campaign is still a good one, but playing Chaos Theory on this handheld is considerably less enjoyable than it should be.