Reviews

Splinter Cell: Conviction review

 

Release Date: Out now
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Singleplayer: yes
Splitscreen: yes, 2 player
Multiplayer: 2, 1v1 game type
PEGI: 15+
 

  

Splinter Cell: Conviction is a fairly large departure from the previous iteration of Splinter Cell games as it goes for a more aggressive stealth and more action feeling.
In fact as I played through its dark rooms, open outside area’s and other varied landscapes I began to get a familiar feeling, after a little though I placed that feeling as Batman: Arkham Asylum

Now, I’m not inferring that Sam Fisher has suddenly started wearing a cape and calling himself Sam the Bat, I simply mean that in Batman: Arkham Asylum you used the shadows as a weapon, leaping out and taking out the helpless enemies before disappearing back into the dark, it’s a fear inducing tool more than anything else.
Conviction has also taken this route, Sam is out for revenge this time around and he’s rogue, and so he has a much more brutal and aggressive feeling to him now and just like Arkham Asylum, shadows are now something to be feared by Merc’s. 

Sam now slides out from the shadows before using one of his brutal new hand to hand kills on an unsuspecting enemy, this in turn earns him “marks” which are part of the new Mark & Execute feature.
Now you aim at an enemy and hit the RB button to mark him with a chevron (which can be seen through walls to allow tracking of enemies) and up to 3 more of his buddies (4 marks in total).
You then line yourself up, seeing each chevron turn a bright red to let you know when you’re in a good position, at that point you strike by hitting “Y” and unleashing a perfect headshot on each of your red marks.
It’s deadly and very fun to watch as you obliterate them.
At first it feels a little cheap as the game effectively hands you chances to get a hand to hand kill to earn your Mark & Execute feature, but as the game progress’s you have to earn this kills, making their subsequent use and timing important. 

A Co-op Mark & Execute delivers the pain

 

Gone are the sound meters of old, as are some of Fisher’s tricks such as hiding bodies and doing the splits in corridors to sit above guards, in some respects you could certainly claim that it’s dumbed down for the more casual gamer, an affliction that affects many of todays games.
It’s more streamlined and simpler now, if you’re crouching you’re silent, simple as that.
To depict if your hidden, the game will go black and white when you’re in shadows, showing that you’re hidden from view. On the one hand it’s a fairly interesting idea and is a very good way to show when your hidden, sadly it also takes away from the games graphical show.
Conviction breaks the trend of many current games being dull, murky colors and opts instead for a brighter palette which is a refreshing change, sadly the black and white stealth system means you’re often not going to be getting the full impact of these colors.
It’s certainly a pretty game, each location is well detailed and feels quite real, though dark warehouse’s are a little too overused, and animations all look and move fluidly.
There are some rough edges on many objects though, it’s a minor complaint however and certainly nothing major or game breaking. 

You don't mess with Sam Fisher

 

Touching upon the singleplayer, it’s a fun affair with a well told and acted storyline and while it’s not the most original it’s still a very enjoyable tale, the voice acting in particular is fantastic with Sam Fisher’s performance as a standout, it also uses some unique idea’s.
As you progress through the story, Sam’s memories of people or events are displayed upon walls in the game world, giving you the option to stop and watch them or carry on with the game, the same goes for objectives as they’re displayed on walls as well to help keep you immersed in the gameworld.
There are flaws however, the singleplayer never quite seems to get the balance of all out gunfights and stealth right, often I felt like I was being forced into “All guns blazing” situations instead of being given the option to use stealth to advance.
One level stands out as a bad moment for Convictions singleplayer, a moment where you’re forced to relive one of Sam’s memories, sadly this section takes the form on a straight up linear shooting section and while Convictions cover system and shooting mechanics are good for the style of game they do not suit a full-blown level.
Thankfully the level is short. 

"Dude!... what the hell happened to quiet?"

 

Speaking of the new cover system, it works extremely well. Simply pull the Left Trigger to take cover, it feels smooth and easy to get to cover and by looking at the next piece of cover you can simply tap “A” and Sam will dive, slide or roll into that cover, it’s very fluid and allows for quick movement when a guard is looking in your direction, it’s quick enough to stop you being spotted entirely and the animations look spot on. 

The singleplayer story will take around 6-7 hours on normal so it’s certainly not the longest game in the 360’s catalogue, however the game also includes a 2 player Co-op mode which is actually a prequel story to the singleplayer, so it provides a nice opportunity to get together with a friend and learn a little more of the Conviction storyline.
Each of the 4 co-op missions will last around an hour to an hour and a half so it adds some extra gametime, however if you don’t have a friend to play it with or don’t have Live at all then these 4 missions are pointless as they cannot be done in singleplayer. You can play with the general public as well. 

Splinter Cell: Conviction comes with the Deniable Op’s, these let you play several different modes on a range of maps, either by yourself or in 2 player co-op and they do add a decent amount of hours worth of gameplay, allowing you to hone skills, go for speedruns or just try different tactics. 

Happily both the Co-op story and Deniable Ops can be played in split-screen mode. 

Throughout all of these mode’s you can complete the P.E.C (persistent Elite Creation) challenges, these challenges earn you points to buy new uniforms, and most importantly upgrade your weapons with things like Laser sights, scopes and more.
Conviction actually contains a fairly large selection of weapons, though a complaint must be that most weapons sound rather week. 

Cometh the boot

 

There are plenty of other little gameplay features that add, like the LKP (Last Know Position) system which shows the last position that the enemy saw you in as a white ghost of your character, the enemy will concentrate on that area allowing you to outflank and kill them. 

Splinter Cell: Conviction may have angered a few hardcore fans thanks to its new take on the game, however it remains an incredibly enjoyable affair and the new gameplay feels smooth, fluid and importantly, fun. 

The Good;
+ the more aggressive gameplay feels very rewarding
+ Mark & execute makes for some “booyah” moments
+ Hand to hand kills feel satisfying
 

The Bad:
– does feel a little dumbed down
– frustrating Laser sections *grrrrr*
 

SCORES; 

Graphics: 8.5
A very pretty game with a few rough edges.
 

Sound: 8.5
Great voice acting, but enemies tend to repeat themselves far too much and guns sound weak and weedy.
 

Story: 9:
Well told and well acted, not the most original but some good twists.
 

Gameplay: 9
Slick, fun and smooth equals some great gaming and co-op adds to the package but some rather stupid AI do take away from the overall experience.
interrogations are very fun.
 

Lifespan: 7.5
Singleplayer is a little short and if you don’t have a co-op buddy then Deniable Ops will only last so long.
 

Overall: 8.5
Splinter Cell: Conviction is a very good game, it may have annoyed more hardcore fans but the new direction feels great to play and as a co-op game it’s fantastic fun to play.

 

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