Tom Clancys Splinter Cell: Conviction SP review
Tom Clancys Splinter Cell: Conviction was a game long in the making. Released in 2010, while the previous title was released in 2006, plenty of Splinter Cell fans were salivating over the chance to jump back into the espionage shoes of Sam Fisher. Announced in 2007, and released in 2010, I think its a safe bet to say everyone was a little worried over what was taking so long. It appeared there were plenty of changes in the works for the core game mechanics, and I think for long time Splinter Cell fans (myself included), we were all a little worried about what was to come. Although, Ubisoft Montreal proved yet again why we should not get our backs up about titles they develop. Enter, Conviction.
Story and Motivation
Sam has disconnected his ties to Third Echelon and gone under the radar in Valetta, Malta. The game starts off by getting an urgent call from Anna Grimsdotter, a warning that there are agents on their way to you. The story as a whole this time is a little more cohesive, but i think thats because this time its more personal. Despite the fact there is still a terrorist plot against the United States, Fishers main motivation is the hint that his daughter is in fact not dead, therefore sparking an intense revenge tale.
The story is told through a couple different means. One is with interactive cutscenes where you interrogate your enemies, or simply beat the hell out of them. Second is by the addition of projected videos on walls that you can stop and watch. Third is mainly just ingame narritive. However once all of these work in tandem – and Michael Ironsides beautifully delivered dialogue, I was hooked right off the bat.
A good story is something we dont find often in videogames, though short stories are everywhere. Unfortunately this is one of Convictions biggest downfalls. The story will clock in around the 8 hour mark, or sooner if you’re Rambo at videogames like i am. I dont know where they could have taken the story to make it longer, and theres actually a level I think shouldnt have been in it to begin with, but I still didnt feel like i had enough time in the Splinter Cell Universe.
This however is only regarding the single player campaign, as the game offers more – but we’ll leave that for the multiplayer review.
Interrogate your prey, Sam Fisher style
Stealth, The Way of Conviction
Conviction is still based around stealth as previous titles, but does it in such a way that makes you feel empowered over your environments and enemies. This game does a number of things extremely well, but the most important to ME is gameplay. Moving from cover to cover, climbing walls, sliding under trucks, hoping into sewers; all of these are done so seamlessly that it really immerses you into the game.
Since stealth is so important to this franchise, Ubisoft Montreal decided to strip things down and make it easier for newcomers and veterans alike. Now while youre hidden in darkness, the color bleeds out of the screen to black and white. This is a simple and effective way to tell you youre hidden (though I must admit, i still miss my light meters). Another stealth addition is “Last Known Position”, where as it sounds, an image will appear where the enemy thinks you still are. This is a great way to flank enemies, or just play cat and mouse.
Another new ability is the “Mark and Execute”. Basically, you can tag up to 4 enemies and with the press of one button eliminate them all. This actually makes you feel a lot stronger than most hunter games make you feel, as you know how easily you can dispatch your prey. I’m not gonna lie though, when I first heard of this feature I thought “well, are they making this game for action junkies or what?”. While it is true that the game seems “dumbed down” at first glance, its more of a streamlining that many companies are doing nowadays. With the market growing as fast as it is, developers are thinking of ways that they can satisfy core gamers, yet reach a new audience at the same time.
I know for a fact there are people who still piss and moan about how easy this title can seem compared to the others, but try playing on the hardest difficulty and get noticed just ONCE… its unrelenting and challenging. Now Im not saying the other Splinter Cell games did movement and stealth poorly, as they have all been great espionage titles, but the way movement is streamlined in this title just bears no comparison.
Some stealth and hand to hand takedowns
Action? No need for Action
Getting noticed and being thrown into the action is a point I was a little let down in. While the stealth segments of the game is so fluid, the action segments are extremely frustrating. For some reason it seems that once you’re noticed, if you try and hold your ground, you will more often than not be overrun. I understand that this is where the “Last Known Position” and “Mark and Execute” abilities come into play, but if im playing the role of badass tough guy Sam Fisher, I should at least feel like I can stay put and mow some enemies down. I suppose this is a way to force you to play in a stealthy manner, but sometimes i kinda like to kick back and jump into the action. Which reminds me, one of the worst parts of the whole game is a mission that has you back in Iraq. I wont spoil anything, but theres no stealth here, which means you have to use the games less than stellar action for longer than youd want to… not fun.
in conclusion, I had a blast with Conviction. There’s amazing stealth aspects and a well delivered story. My hope is that they spent most of their time retooling things so that the next game will be longer and maybe back to a bigger political story. If you’ve been on the fence about picking this game up, its a definite buy.
+ Voice acting
+ Fluid stealth
+ Art direction
– Too short
– Complicated action sequences